If you’re unsure about what content your site has and what information it’s missing, you might need to do a content audit.
Websites are powerhouses for data and information. Disorganized content throws a wrench in your content management process and can further complicate updates to your site. Whether you want to tackle a full architecture overhaul or a redesign, a content audit is a great way to analyze the organization of your website and how that affects its usability. An audit helps you understand more about how much information is on your website and how that information is layered. This is especially useful if your site has been up for a long time and contains a significant amount of legacy content.
The task may seem daunting, but the results will pay off. Start simple, and go from there.
Build Your Content Inventory
The first step is to format your spreadsheet in a way that can effectively house an inventory of all your site’s content.
Our team typically uses Google Spreadsheets because they’re conducive to sharing and editing with team members. You need several columns to categorize information and a way to organize it so that it’s easy to find what you’re looking for at a glance.
Next, add your content. According to UX Mastery, the most important pieces of information for a content audit sheet are the Navigation Title, Page Name, URL, Content Hierarchy, and a space for you to make notes.
If you want to go more in depth with your spreadsheet, you can add information like who authored the content or what shows up on that page as related content.
Add the Content
Start with your homepage. Then add the page that informs people who you are and what you do, like your about page. Plug in the URLs and keep track of when that content was last updated or when it’s due for editing. Creating a numbered system is a good way to keep track of the website’s pages and how sub-pages are related.
Color code the cells as you go along to designate what needs work, what needs to be deleted, and what can stay as is.
How to Use It
The usability of your website is essential to attracting users and retaining their attention. If your site has an overwhelming amount of content, or the pages aren’t organized in a way that makes sense to a visitor, people are more inclined to exit their browser and forget about what you have to offer. Performing a content audit and streamlining what the site truly needs will prevent this from happening.
Now that you have your content audit spreadsheet, you can use it as a tool to help you accomplish tasks that require knowledge of your website’s organization at the drop of a hat.
If you are simply restructuring, you can use the spreadsheet to help determine what pages will stay the same and which will change. Create the new URLs and add them to the spreadsheet next to the current ones to keep track of where your content will end up. If you’re looking to make minor changes, create a column to keep track of the content’s progress.
While it’s important to show your history, legacy content can often provide too much information that is no longer relevant. If your website tries too hard to be a blast from the past, it won’t engage people in the present. Use your content audit to determine what history is relevant and what can be left behind.
Optimize Your Site
A content audit spreadsheet will help you save time, money, and some sanity. You'll have an inventory of all of your site's content in one easily accessible and organized location. Prioritize content edits and updates, determine information gaps and create an editorial calendar, and remove older, irrelevant content.
You want your website to be optimized for SEO, usability, and the content itself. A short-term investment to keep your site’s content organized is well worth it in the long run.
If you have performed a content audit, what are some of your tips? If you haven’t done one yet, what questions do you have? Leave a comment and let us know!