Content Auditing: the Basics

Vincent Sevilla
Vincent Sevilla

Let’s get this out of the way first.

Auditing content can be tedious, boring, and can eat up a lot of your time. It’s the kind of job that is capable of making you look like you’re not doing anything even if you’re horrendously busy and working hard to get it all under control.

Nevertheless, these downsides don’t make it less important. If anything, the content audit is one of the most crucial parts of revamping a site.

Without further ado, here are the essentials you need to learn about content auditing and how it’s done.

What is Content Auditing?

Content audit, also known as content assessment, begins with identifying all of the website’s existing content and aggregating all of it into a master list. This is then followed by checking the content. The complexity of the checking process depends on your reasons for the audit.

There are three ways to audit content. The first is a full content audit, which requires the list of content to be complete and comprehensive, including downloadable files such as photos and videos. The second is a partial content audit. This method necessitates only a list of subcategories, especially the ones that are on the top of the hierarchy. Lastly, there is the content sampling, wherein you examine samples of content in a less comprehensive way.

Ideally, you should carry out content auditing once a month to be sure that your website’s engines are well oiled. This means you don’t have to wait until something is wrong with your site or when its visitors start complaining about the navigation.

Be careful, however, not to confuse content auditing with content inventory. Basically, their difference is that auditing is on the qualitative side, while the inventory is on the quantitative. While it’s possible to do one without the other, you would want to take up on both if you’re planning to undertake a full-on assessment.

Why is Content Auditing Important?

Content auditing is useful when you’re reconstructing the information available on your site. It is also handy when you’re migrating to a different content management system.

Either way, it is likely that you’ll have to keep on going back to the details of your existing content since it can also help you detect duplicates and map out how each part of your site’s content is connected with another.

Let the Auditing Begin

Content auditing is usually done by SEO managers, content developers, managers, directors, and website designers. You’re probably one among the mentioned specialists, but being one does not always mean that you’re a whiz at content auditing.

To help you out, here are the steps on how to carry out a substantial content assessment. This task could be dragging, but in the end, you’ll find all the sitting and working worth it.

Undertake a Content Inventory

And so you go back to these words—content inventory. This refers to the compilation of the quantifiable data you must extract from your website. Once you figure this out, record it in a spreadsheet and create a nomenclature.

This can depend on the hierarchy of the content structure wherein you follow the order of the most significant parts of the site such as products list, resources, and newsletter.  You can also categorize by the type of content available. Some of these types include articles, photos, videos, audio, e-books, and comments/reviews.

When quantifying the data, include details like the URL, size, status code, title, and a description. Quality, on the other hand, deals with topics, accuracy, tone, and redundancies (if there are any).

Track Your Content

Learn how far your content has gone on the Internet by tracking it. This covers the website itself, the content published in it, and other materials you own and associated to your site.

You should also track the content you posted on your social networking accounts to determine whether you still own the rights to them. Lastly, monitor the content you circulated in other sites like guest posts.

Catalog the Content You Have

The spreadsheet is the choice documenting tool used by auditors when compiling content, because it’s highly flexible and practically bottomless which can be quite useful when recording tons of data.

Fill your column headers with the following: category or classification of content; content title; content URL; short description; content type; dates of creation of the latest modification; content rights; and content size.

Utilize Content Audit Tools

Auditing an entire website’s worth of content, or even a part of it, could be monotonous.

Thankfully, there are tools that can help make it a little less taxing for auditors.

An example is the Content Analysis Tool (CAT), which can assist you in the gathering of the data you need. CAT makes use of screenshots of your site’s pages for easier detection of the following: relevant content; metadata such as keywords, description, and dates; links that direct within and from your pages to determine orphaned ones; webpage titles to check consistency; and a list of images to see if your multimedia content has duplicates or redundancies.

Be aware, though, that even if computers can do a marvelous job at amassing data, the efficiency of the audit ultimately remains on the supervision of the human auditor.

Assess Every Content Sample

Another arduous part of the entire content audit show is scrutinizing every single piece of content you collect. The good news is you can narrow the classification down to five categories—the ones that need to be kept, fixed, improved, protected, or deleted.

When assessing content, you can do the following: keep the ones that are still of value; fix the ones that are affected by technical problems such as broken links or those that do not load properly; improve the content that requires an overhaul in terms of fact-checking and formatting; protect the ones that require passwords; and delete the ones that are obsolete and superfluous.

Plan Your Next Audit

If you’ve audited content before, it’s likely that you already have a system for doing it. But if this is your first time, this is the perfect time to devise one. Either way, you can do with an effective way of doing future audits.

Whether you’re the one who’ll do the audit (again) or you’ll have someone else do it, determine a process for how it should be done, even if that process is modified over time. This will not only help you, but also those to whom you might delegate tasks and those who do the job in future.

You also need to establish a way of creating versions so that you’ll know which content was audited at a specific session and a specific date and time. Also, make sure you have a backup of your files. You’ll never know when your computer is going to crash.

Before embarking on a full-blown website renovation, perform a content audit first. Not only will it help you diagnose the website realistically, it also leads you to the proper direction of developing it and making it better.

Have you ever undertaken a content audit? Are you planning to? Share your experiences, tips and questions in the comments.