Published on August 11th, 2011 | by Rahel Bailie2
The Brief Content Audit
Cleve Gibbon generously contributed this article about the brief content audit, for the series of content strategy deliverables.
Successful websites grow to satisfy their customers’ needs. At some point, someone needs to really know in detail what content they have. Maybe as part of a re-design project? New technology? Company merger/acquisition? Changing the solution provider? It’s time for a content audit.
A content audit determines what you don’t know about your content. Regardless of the site size, an open ended content audit will, according to Parkinson’s Law, expand fill to all available time. Don’t do this. A results-driven content audit will yield both valuable and actionable insights. And by keeping it brief, it can be completed with significant reductions in time and cost.
What to look for, briefly
A brief content audit focuses largely on the quantitative site aspects to answer the following key questions:
- Substance: What content do you have?
- Structure: How is it organised?
- Workflow: Who creates/consumes it?
A couple years ago, this used to be enough. Today, content audits should go one step further to include the following:
- SEO – How findable is the content? What keywords and backlinks are being used?
- Metadata – What data is being used to support how the content is organised?
How to do it, briefly
What content do you have? Use tools to download the external facing site. They exist. For example, httrack.com if a free website copier that allows you to download site(s), filtering by asset type such as PDFs, videos, audio, html.
How is it organised? Write/buy a script that can be used to parse the download logs and extract the page title, URLs, asset type and present it in a content inventory spreadsheet format.
Who creates/consumes it? Use analytics, web logs and other tools to determine how content is consumed and interview internal staff to work out how content is created, managed and measured.
Why do it, briefly
If left unchecked, websites get messy. And the more you don’t know, the less likely you want to know. A content audit shines a light on your content. For larger content sites, there is just not enough time to do a full audit. In these circumstances, a brief content audit can be used to capture enough information to provide the required evidence for a more detailed version and/or just to highlight key content trends.