Creating a content inventory

A content inventory is a list of all your content. It’s the basis for your content audit because you can’t start auditing until you know what you have and where it is.

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How to create a content inventory

There are a few different ways to create an inventory:

  • Use a tool to crawl your site and create the list
  • Export a list of pages from your CMS
  • Export pages from Google Analytics (but bear in mind this will only show pages people have visited – on big sites, or sites with poor navigation there are likely to be pages no one has looked at)
  • Use your XML sitemap
  • Export a list from Google Search Console

Screaming Frog is my preferred tool. I’ve included step-by-step instructions for how to use it in the next module. I’ve also included a list of free and paid tools at the end of this page.

What to include in your content inventory

As a baseline, your inventory should include:

  • URL
  • H1
  • Title tag
  • Meta description

You could also include:

  • Publication date
  • Last updated date
  • Author
  • Content owner
  • Content type
  • Tags
  • Topic
  • Word count
  • Sentence count
  • Header count
  • Paragraph count
  • Reading time
  • Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level*
  • Images
  • Images alt text
  • Videos
  • External links
  • Internal links

Finally, you can also bring in metrics. What you include will depend on what tracking you have set up, but you might want to look at:

  • Pageviews
  • Entrances
  • Exits
  • Bounce rate
  • Exit rate
  • Time on page
  • Page speed
  • Events (for example: scroll depth, clicks, etc.)
  • Goal completion rate (for example: email sign-ups, purchases, downloads, etc.)
  • Total events (for example: call to action clicks) 
  • User feedback (for example response rate to a ‘Did you find this page useful?’ question)
*Flesch-Kincaid and other readability formulas are useful in an auditing context, but they’re not infallible. Don’t assume a good score means something is readable, or a bad score means something is not. You’ll need to read the content to verify the score.

Readability formulas, UX Matters

7 reasons to avoid them and what to do instead

How to get the data

If you’re doing a CMS download, you may be able to get some of this data from that.

An easy option to populate your inventory with a lot of data is to use a tool. I recommend URL Profiler, because it includes some helpful features like readability scoring, and integrates with Google tools like Analytics and Search Console, and SEO tools like Moz and Majestic. You upload your list of URLs, connect your accounts, choose the criteria you want to pull into your audit, and the tool does the rest. There’s a two-week free trial, which means you can probably get what you need for free.

If the two-week free trial doesn’t give you enough time, and you don’t want to or can’t spend the money, you can get some of this data for free by using scraping formulas in Excel and Google. You can use the formula/functionality to pull in data for each URL, like the title tag, meta description, date, etc. Big caveat: this can take a long time to load, and is not a workable solution if you have thousands of pages on your site. You can also use the VLOOKUP formula to match your URLs with data from Google Analytics.

Site crawling tools

Name

Cost*

Pros

Cons

Screaming Frog

  • Simple crawls of up to 500 pages are free
  • £149 a year
  • Loads of useful features
  • Great value if you’ll use all the functionality
  • The best option for very big sites
  • Connects with Google Analytics
  • Not the most intuitive interface
  • Only 500 pages are included in the free plan
  • Can be slow if you’re auditing a big site

Moz Pro

  • 30-day free trial of the medium plan (500,000 pages per week)
  • From $99/c£75 a month
  • The free trial will give most people enough to carry out their audit
  • Helpful SEO recommendations
  • Connects with Google Analytics
  • High monthly fee
  • SEO focused

Semrush

  • Limited free trial
  • $120/c£90 a month
  • Helpful SEO recommendations
  • Connects with Google Analytics
  • Low page crawl limits – not ideal for big sites
  • Free trial is limited
  • High monthly fee
  • SEO focused

Sitebulb

  • 14-day free trial of all features 
  • From £10 a month, plus VAT 
  • The free trial will give most people enough to carry out their audit
  • Helpful SEO recommendations
  • Low fee
  • SEO focused

DYNO Mapper

  • 14-day free trial
  • From $49/c£37 a month
  • Specifically designed for content inventories
  • Connects with Google Analytics
  • Low page crawl limits – not ideal for big sites
  • Free trial is limited
  • High monthly fee
  • SEO focused

XML Sitemap Generator

  • Free for 2,000 pages
  • Free for 2,000 pages
  • Plugin for Wordpress sites
  • Very basic
  • Not suitable for large sites

Free Sitemap Generator

  • Free for 5,000 pages
  • Free for 5,000 pages
  • Very basic
  • Not suitable for large sites

*Correct as of December 2021

Before you move on...

Identify the data sources and tools you're going to use to get a list of pages for your inventory. You'll need to consider your budget as part of this. See section 6 in your planner.

(If you haven't made a copy yet, the planner is linked on the content audit toolkit homepage.)

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