A content audit is a toothbrush for your website

Auditing is the content equivalent of showering and brushing your teeth: it's basic hygiene. Plus, the benefits are huge. So why isn’t everyone auditing all the time?
A wooden toothbrush on a plain background

A content audit is the website equivalent of brushing your teeth: it’s basic hygiene. Plus, the benefits are huge. So why isn’t everyone auditing?

As a baby content strategist, content auditing felt like the most natural thing in the world to me. I was in charge of a website, I wanted to know what we had, what worked, and what didn’t. I wanted to feel like I had a handle on things, so I could make a plan and decide where to focus my time.

So I made an inventory of pages, got data from Google Analytics, and started going through them one by one. I didn’t have a name for it, but what I was doing was a content audit.

I’m not saying that I was a content strategy prodigy. Content auditing is a logical thing to do. It’s essential hygiene, like brushing your teeth and showering. But I’m genuinely surprised by the number of organisations I speak to that have never done a content audit, and aren’t reviewing on a regular basis.

If you have content, you should be doing regular reviews. Publishing and moving on is a lazy, wasteful option. You need to go back and check on your content, make improvements, and delete it if/when it’s no longer useful. This isn’t ‘one and done’ either. Your content needs to be reviewed on a regular basis throughout its lifespan.

If you’re not auditing, you could be missing important things like:

  • outdated or inaccurate content that represents a legal or reputation risk
  • pages with no traffic and no purpose creating pointless carbon emissions (content has a carbon footprint),
  • missed opportunities to add value to users and your organisation
  • quick wins that can improve experience, conversion, and engagement for very little effort.

A content audit is also a really useful process to go through if you’re:

  • thinking about/doing a website redesign or refresh
  • starting a new role
  • losing control of a sprawling website
  • about to embark on a product/service/campaign launch
  • keen to start making decisions about what work to do based on data

I understand why audits get bypassed. This isn’t ‘sexy’ work that people get excited about. What’s more, it’s hard work and a more complex process than it might seem. The impulse to audit might have come naturally to me, but the process did not. I made many mistakes while I was learning what to do. For example:

  • I used to take a look at the page and some data and come up with a conclusion. No rigour, no consistency, no structure. So of course I missed all sorts of issues and opportunities.
  • The first time I wrote a proposal for an audit of a really big website (well over 100,000 pages) the client said they wanted me to audit everything so I duly priced it up. It came out at over £200,000. Now I know to have a realistic conversation about scope and how to pick a representative sample of content.
  • When I committed to auditing all day, every day for three weeks. I got so fed up I was thinking about a career change. From that I learnt to audit for 2 hours a day, maximum.

I really believe in content audits and I want to see more people getting the benefits of them. So I’ve tried to make the process quicker, easier and more accessible with my content audit toolkit. It’s the culmination of everything I’ve learnt about running an effective audit, from how to get a definitive list of pages to how to share your findings with stakeholders.

Content audit toolkit

Find out what’s really going on with your website. This toolkit is made up of 12 modules and 4 templates to guide you through planning and carrying out an effective audit. Spot ways to improve your user experience, increase conversion, and reduce your carbon footprint.

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