Five Steps to a Successful Content Audit

May 17, 2016

A content audit, based on a comprehensive content inventory, is a foundational step in developing a content-first, user-centric content strategy. Here are a few quick tips to set up and conduct a successful audit.

1. Know your stuff

Analyzing your content begins with knowing what you have. Inventory your content assets to scope your project (use CAT to get an automated inventory quickly and easily), understand how it’s structured, and set a baseline for measuring improvement. A comprehensive inventory sets the stage for a qualitative audit based on accurate understanding of the content. Layer in performance analytics to help you know where to focus.

Tip: Automate your content inventory with the Content Analysis Tool to speed you on your way to the audit.

2. Set your standards

Why are you auditing? What is the business need that triggered the effort? You need that context to help plan for an audit that leads to measurable results. Understanding your business goals and your user needs is critical background for analyzing how content supports them. Spend time upfront immersing yourself in everything you know about your business and users so you can accurately assess how your content is doing.

Tip: Review your brand and editorial guidelines before you start so you can audit for consistency and quality

3. Pick your team

Many hands make light work. Divide the work of auditing a large content set among a select team of content, user experience, business intelligence, and marketing colleagues to get a multi-faceted view of your content. Break down areas of expertise and engage a team who know your content lifecycle, so everyone who is part of the process gains greater insight into the content.

Tip: Define roles, responsibilities, and dependencies and regularly communicate your progress

4. Focus, focus, focus

Lacking enough time and resources to audit every piece of content? Scope the problem down by deciding which content is most important to focus on. Review business goals and user goals and the content most relevant to achieving them. Use personas and journey maps to find areas of focus. Matrix your content data by adding in audience and goal information. Sort and filter by audience, goal, and performance metrics to see what’s working and what isn’t.

Tip: Enhance your inventory with relevant data points and information about the content so you can find patterns

5. Get insightful

An audit is more than data in a spreadsheet. It’s what you make of that data. To derive actionable insights from your audit, you need to understand the implications of how the content is performing against your goals and standards. Do you need to revise content? Remove it? Create it? Are there process improvements you can make to ensure that content is created and managed to your standards? Deliver your recommendations to your stakeholders, along with an accurate assessment of what it will take to address the issues and the risks of not taking action.

Tip: Adopt the rolling inventory and audit to regularly assess content and address issues early

Want more? I wrote a whole book on the topic: Content Audits and Inventories: A Handbook. Available from a fine online bookseller near you.

Category: Content Audit Tips

Paula Land


Paula Land is co-founder and CEO of Content Insight and author of Content Audits and Inventories: A Handbook.

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