Content is what attracts people to your website. Content is what impresses people into becoming your customers. Content is what you use to communicate your message to your audience. But you already knew that. Yet, often websites resemble and old closet where things collect, multiply and grow until we stare in horror at a big tangled mess. In order not to get to that point, it is a good idea to clean up your content at least once a year. Your efforts in the last 6 months helped you focus on your company goals, vision, and priorities. You have an idea what your audience wants, you know how to attract them to the website and how to measure your progress. All that thanks to the SEO and PPC audits you did in the first quarter and the Analytics and Usability audits finished in the second quarter. Time to put your discoveries to good work and rock your Content Audit.
Content AuditFor most companies, creating website content is a process. It involves people who write content, people who determine what to write about, people who approve the content and people who publish the content. It also helps to have people who are tracking the content success. In other words, you have many groups participating in the publishing process. Your content audit should include not only your website inventory but process audit as well. Follow the process from content generation to publishing. Map out the existing process and add stakeholders to each step. Why do it?
- Relevancy. How relevant are you to the current developments in your industry and the world? Is your company a recognized leader and authority in your field? Your content shapes perception on how competent you are and how well you understand the industry. Your content is responsible for what your audience thinks about your company and your product. At least once a year, take a fresh look at what you are transmitting out to the world and make sure you are putting your best foot forward.
- Focus. Have the priorities changed? Products, technology, conversations, problems, desires are changing quicker than ever. It is vital to keep up. Company's priorities are shifting. Is your content aligned with the company's goals?
- Audience. Have you done your persona research lately? What are your customers thinking? Why do they buy from you? What message do they respond to the most? The changes around us change our world, including our priorities. Your content was designed to convince people from the past to buy from you. What about the audience of today and the future? Your audit will reveal how well you address your visitors' needs.
- Inventory. Nobody remembers every piece of content on their website. Inventory of your content will help you track it and focus your efforts on most important pages.
- Bottlelnecks. Every process has bottlenecks. It develops them overtime. Find yours and fix them quickly. You cannot afford to lag behind these days.
- Learn. Pull your notes from previous audits - SEO, PPC, Analytics, and Usability. What can you learn from them about your content? What messages evoke the most response? Which pages engage people (likes, shares, comments, plus ones, tweets, etc) and which pages convince people to buy?
- Research your audience. Who are they and why they chose you? No, really. With all the choices available, what is your unique message that attracts them so much that they ignore your competitors and flock to you? Learn more about your audience and use this template to map the content to their personalities. Change your content based on your visitors. Different people consume content differently - help them get your point quickly by crafting your pages accordingly.
- Clean up and strategize. Evaluate your website performance from content perspective. Perhaps, create your own process for content audits that you can perform more often. Find your top performing content and identify areas you can improve. If there are low quality pages, decide if you need to rewrite them or trash them. How can you be more convincing when speaking to your audience?
- Inventory your website. Create a spreadsheet of all your content with all information you need about your pages. There are many ways to do it and the spreadsheet will vary depending on your goals. A content audit template might come handy. Do not create new content without using a content worksheet. Here is an example of a good Website Content Worksheet. We are using a similar one in-house.
- Inspect content distribution channels. Are you a spammer? If you do email marketing, there is a chance you could be. What is your email open rate? How about conversion rate from the offers you send? Revise what you send out to your customers and create a plan to focus on the content they like. You do not want your emails go directly to trash, do you? Same goes for new product announcements, press releases, newsletters, videos, presentations, etc. Cut the stuff nobody cares about and produce more of the content of interest to your customers.
- Inventory your assets. Do a people audit. Who is creating the best content? Why are they successful? Maybe, they will be willing to share their secrets with other content creators? Who are the social stars? Are they evangelists for the company? Evaluate yourself as well. How is your communication? Do you deliver clear instructions?
- Evaluate the process. Look at how the content flow from conception to publishing. You need to know your bottlenecks. How can you improve the approval time? Make sure nobody skips steps and that those steps are executed in order.
Administrative AuditAdministrative audit is often overlooked. It rarely has revenue implications or big rewards. It is a humble process of taking out the trash. Follow the checklist. Why do it? Cleaning up the accounts, files, and permissions is good for security and business in general. When you keep an eye on who is allowed to do what on your website, who no longer needs access to your content, and who has administrative privileges, you are less likely to get in trouble. What to do.
- Check your accounts. Any of them outdated and need to be removed? Check user permissions - are they adequate for the roles of the people managing your website?
- Patch security holes. If you have people using FTP, review the users. Weed out the ones who do not need it anymore. Think of others who might benefit from it. Make appropriate changes. Make sure the settings, folder access and permissions are adequate.
- Revise configuration files. If you are blocking IPs in Analytics, update the list. Review your robots.txt file to make sure you are not blocking any important directories. Consult your website crawl report for errors.
- Check email accounts. If you maintain email server, check the email addresses. Are there any outdated ones that need to be trashed?
- Check your backups. Are there any problems with the scheduled backups? Do you need to make changes or adjustments?
- Check for test accounts. During website development process, it is necessary sometimes to create test accounts , folders, documents, database entries, etc. Do they all need to be there? When adding a test accounts, keep a log. Then, during your yearly clean up, you will be able to easily locate every temporary entry.
- Tools audit. Are you using all the tools you are paying for? Are they tools still adequate for your goals and activities? Go through the list of your tools. Note the dates when licenses need to be renewed. Do the terms need to be changed? Check the list of subscription auto payments. Pay only for the tools that you use and stop payments for those you are not using. Scan your plugins, add-ons, templates, style documents, convention documents, widgets, APIs. Is there anything you can consolidate, update or improve? Do they still serve their purpose?
- Software Audit. Is all software on the site up-to-date? Upgrades to plugins? Revise your list of licenses, users, installations, etc.
- Team responsibilities. If you have a team you are responsible for, it is a good idea to go over their work and responsibilities. It will help you utilize your talent better. Their interests might have changed in a year. Compare their career goals with their projects and, perhaps, switch the tasks around to align the priorities of your team members with the work they are responsible for. Assist in their career development.
- Budget Audit. Look back at what you are spending money on. Are you within budget? Use analytics to find out how much revenue your team brought in. This data can be a good leverage if you need to ask for more budget or restructure your spending.