The word “audit” can strike fear into the most stoic of hearts. A Content Audit, however, is nothing to be feared. It is simply the process of taking an inventory of the content on your website. It is a large, detailed list of the information on your website and most often is in the form of a spreadsheet. This list will be the basis for the re-organization of your site.
There are three types of audits: Full, Partial and Sample. A Full audit is just as it sounds; a complete accounting of every page, file and media. A Partial audit’s parameters are less specific. However it will include every section of your site as well as a subset, which can be the top few levels of a hierarchical site or the last few months of articles written. A Sample audit is a compilation of example content.
Why Conduct a Content Audit?
We’ve all gone through our closets at some point in our lives to determine what we have, what we need, what we should keep and what we should throw away. We essentially performed an “audit” of our wardrobe and walked away with a newly reorganized closet, a feeling of accomplishment and a great excuse to go shopping. Auditing the content of the closet known as your website will provide you with a similar result for you and your users.
It allows you to know exactly what information you have on your site, what information you need on your site, what pages you need to keep and what pages are duplicative and can be “thrown away”. In addition it provides you with the information to address potential user pain points as well as opportunities for added value to your user. When you have completed your audit, you will now possess the information platform to create a newly streamlined and re-organized information architecture for your site, a better understanding of your content and great reason to get innovative in the solutions you provide your users.
How to Conduct a Content Audit?
There are different ways that you can audit the content of your website and there are different pieces of data that you can include.
The main recommended categories are:
Navigation Title (main link to the content)
URL (web address)
Comments (any notes you’d like to remember)
Content Hierarchy (how the content relates to each other).
Other suggested categories are:
Content Type (page, blog post, media, attachment, article, etc.)
Entry Points (how the user gets to that information)
Last Date Updated
Secure/Open (is the page open to all or secure?)
In order to conduct a successful Content Audit , use the following steps:
Start with a blank spreadsheet. List your categories in the first row and your main pages or section in the first column
Choose one page and list the information according to the categories
If there are sub-pages, create a separate row for each under the main page/section and gather the same information for those as well
Repeat these steps until every page is listed.
Using this spreadsheet, analyze to determine where the opportunities and pain points are.