Content audit questions

Find out more about what a content audit is, why you should do one, and what the process of doing one is like. If you’re not sure whether or not you need to do a content audit, you’re in the right place.

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A content audit is a review of the information on your website. Working page-by-page, you look at how your content is performing against different qualitative criteria and quantitative metrics. It’s a process that you complete in order to understand what content you have, what state it’s in, and how you can improve it.

A content inventory is a list of all your content. It should also include key information about your content, like the URL, H1, title tag, meta description, and more.

Your content inventory is the foundation for your content audit because you can’t start auditing until you know what you have and where it is.

The short answer is:

  1. Create a list of pages (your content inventory)
  2. Choose which criteria and metrics matter to you
  3. Work through your pages one by one, assess them against your criteria, and see how they perform for your metrics.

The long answer is that there’s a lot of complexity hidden in that simple-looking process. You need to get an accurate list of all your pages and pull in data from different sources. Then you need to decide what criteria to audit for and how to do that in a consistent, objective way. If you’ve got a big site, you need to decide whether to audit all the pages or just a sample. And that’s just the beginning. But it’s worth it because there are some big benefits to doing a content audit.

A content audit is essential hygiene for your website, like brushing your teeth and showering. If you have content, you should be doing regular reviews. Some of the benefits of a content audit include:

  • Increase sales and retention: Identify improvements to your content, and make a positive impact on KPIs like sales and retention.
  • Spot gaps and opportunities: See what’s missing from your site and reveal opportunities for new content.
  • Cut your carbon footprint: Reveal outdated, unused content that you can delete to cut the carbon footprint of your site.
  • Improve your user experience: Highlight ways to improve the experience your users have on your site through better content.
  • Get a prioritised to-do list: Get a clear idea of where to focus your time and effort to improve your content.

A content audit is 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

It’s good to get into a pattern of regular content auditing too. For example, if you have a 1200 page site, you might look at 100 pages a month so that you work through all the pages in a year.

The criteria you audit your content against will depend on your content, who it is for, and what you’re trying to achieve. To choose your criteria, think about what you need to know in order to decide whether to keep, delete, or improve a piece of content (and what you need to know to actually improve it too). The more you add, the more actionable your to-do list will be when it comes to improving content. It will also help you make decisions about what to delete, keep, and improve later on.

Some criteria you might want to include are:

  • Will the page help the reader with something they want to find/learn/do?
  • Is the page up to date?
  • Is the information accurate?
  • Are there typos, grammatical mistakes, etc.?
  • Do all images have appropriate alt text?

How long a content audit will take depends on how much content you have and how many criteria you choose.

It’ll probably take you a day or two to get an inventory together and set your criteria.

For the audit itself, as a rule of thumb, expect to be able to audit an average of six pages per hour. So to audit everything on of a 100-page website might take two or three days. You’ll probably want to spread that out over a week or two though, as auditing can be hard work.

If you have a big site, a content audit will expand to fit the time available, so it’s really up to you to decide how much time you want to spend on it. Rather than auditing every page, choose a smart, representative sample of content.

Pretty much, yes. Just make sure you think about your criteria carefully before you get started to make sure they’ll work for your intranet and its users.

Got a question that isn’t answered here? Ask it and I’ll do my best to answer.

More thinking on content audits

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A website is never ‘done’

One thing I’d love to change about how people see their website or content, is the idea that this is work that can be ‘finished’.

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How to do a content audit

If you want to find out how to do a content audit, this is a good place to start. Get tips to make auditing quicker, easier, and more effective.