While content plays a central role in your website’s success, you may struggle to keep tabs on it. Often, it can be challenging to know what you have and whether it’s genuinely serving your goals and users. If your website’s content might benefit from some spring cleaning, keep reading. I’ll share a simple introduction to a website content audit to leave you empowered to either start one on your own or make sure your agency partner meets your needs.
What is a website content audit?
A leader in the field of content strategy, Kristina Halvorson, defines a content audit as “an accounting of the content your organization currently has online.” This definition remains intentionally vague, as content audits can vary dramatically to suit both an organization and its objectives.
As someone who fell down the Marie Kondo home organizing rabbit hole (and still maintains vertically-folded rainbow-ordered drawers of clothing), I see the parallel with website content audits. Just as people dump the contents of their closets onto their bed and hold up each item for evaluation, a content audit centers on understanding what you already have by cataloging your content and assessing each piece.
While a professional organizer can help structure the process and offer the wisdom of their experience, each individual ultimately chooses what stays in the “keep” pile. As a content strategy agency, Kalamuna empowers our partners in the same way.
In the following sections, we’ll examine both when and how to conduct a website content audit, with a focus on what you can do yourself and when you might seek help.
When to do a website content audit
We determine when to conduct a website content audit by first asking why, so we can understand the purpose of your content audit. If you’ve collaborated with Kalamuna before, this probably does not come as a surprise, because we ground every recommendation in understanding. Before we complete any task or analysis, it’s critical to understand why we’re doing it. In the following section, I will dive into some reasons why you might conduct a content audit, along with associated timing recommendations.
“My organization’s content is unknown or out of control”
If you don’t know what’s lurking in the corner of your metaphorical closet, a spring-cleaning content audit may be in order. Beyond cluttering up the user experience, making it difficult or frustrating for your audience to find what they seek, stale or dated content can negatively impact your organization. For instance, it may damage your brand by communicating things that are no longer true about it. At Kalamuna, we used to have a singular headquarters in Oakland. Now, we also have an office in Toronto. It’s important that this update is clearly communicated across our content to avoid inconsistencies and confusion.
We recommend setting up a regular schedule for reviewing your content to determine if it needs to be repaired, eliminated, or even elevated to a more prime location. Depending on the time you have to put toward this, you could schedule audits on a quarterly, biannual, or annual cadence.
“My organization anticipates or has just begun a migration or redesign”
We meet many of our partners and collaborate on their content audit at this stage. They are about to pack all of their website content into boxes and move it, either between major versions of a content management system (CMS) or to a new CMS entirely. As with moving our belongings to a new home or city, the cost and complexity increase with the amount of stuff we bring with us. Beyond this consideration, many organizations take this opportunity to clear out content that no longer serves their objectives or their audience’s needs. A content audit at this stage can also identify new content that needs to be created before launch.
When should this audit be completed? You can start the process before you select a digital agency partner. However, we recommend keeping it as a work-in-progress, as they likely have tools and guidance that will be invaluable in supporting your efforts. We often begin a website content audit in the initial Discovery or research phase of a project. Along with setting up the template and lending our expertise to the analysis, we use tools like SEO Spider to populate certain sections automatically. It helps focus our efforts and reduces the time needed to complete the audit.
How to do a website content audit
A quick Google search for “content audit template” includes over 86 million results. That’s a lot of templates! I’m not aiming to be comprehensive here. This blog is all about empowerment, and at Kalamuna, we see that as synonymous with simplicity. We want the experiences we create to feel easy for the user, and that includes you as a reader of this blog. With that in mind, let’s dig into your why, as it will also shape how you conduct your website content audit.
“I want to start a content audit on my own”
As I mentioned in the previous section, not every website content audit begins with a digital agency partner, nor does it always need one. Start by understanding what you want to know about your content before translating it into spreadsheet columns. Be honest about the expertise you have in-house and include what you can confidently analyze.
Depending on the time you have to complete your audit and your site’s size, you may review every page or just a selection of pages. If you have a tool like Google Analytics installed, you can prioritize your audit by pageviews to focus on the highest-traffic pages. Though, we always recommend a deep-dive of any page linked from your main navigation.
Things you’ll most certainly want to include in your audit:
- Quantitative information about the content
- ID number (note: assign each page a number so it can be easily referenced)
- Section of the site
- Pageviews in the past 12 months (note: pulled from your analytics tool if possible, and you may choose a different time frame based on your circumstances)
- Qualitative analysis generated as part of the audit
- Notes from your analysis (note: should express the “why” behind your recommendations)
- Recommendations (note: divide your content into three “piles”: keep / modify / delete)
Things you may include to augment your content audit (Note: This list could be vast, so I’ve simplified it to a list from Kristina Halvorson to get you started):
- Knowledge level
- Business value
- Brand/voice appropriateness
“I’ve partnered with a digital agency to complete my audit”
Consider what’s important to you. Take a look at the list of qualitative audit options above for some inspiration. Let your agency partner know so that they can plan your audit accordingly.
Advocate for your expertise. Anyone conducting a content audit for you ought to loop you into the process, as there are elements of the audit that benefit significantly from everything you know about your organization. Make sure sections like business value and accuracy benefit from your insights.
Leverage the expertise of your partner. If they have an established content strategy practice like Kalamuna, partners can be invaluable in assessing elements like usability and findability. Take advantage and be as open as you can to their recommendations.
“I’ve audited my content; now what?”
First, congratulations! You went from a mountain of stuff to strategically-curated piles. If you’ve conducted an audit on your own, start by presenting your recommendations along with (you guessed it) your “why’s” to internal stakeholders. Get alignment before you take any action, especially if archiving or dramatically changing content. To reduce risk, focus first on fixing any spelling or grammar mistakes, and any inaccuracies within your content.
If you’re up for a deeper-dive, consider reading Content Strategy for the Web, which inspired this blog in part. While it looks like a textbook, it reads like a helpful friend. I found it an inspiring example of content done well (beyond its practical subject matter).
Are you looking for a partner to help you audit or improve your content? Learn more about Kalamuna’s content strategy services.