Content Audits

Content Audits

Why go to the trouble?

Simple – the more crap you have on your site, the harder it is for your customers to find the information and/or product they are looking for.  Plus why would you want your customers finding bad content anyways?

The first time will always be the longest and tedious to get through – with each time thereafter taking far less time.  The volume of new content and your traffic trends will determine the frequency you should do audits.  The sites I’ve managed over the years typically would go through a content audit every 12 to 18 months.

As you start doing audits, you’ll come up with your own list of tips.  In the meantime, here are a few I’ve gathered over time.

Tips and Tricks

  • When a detailed site manifest is created, it will give you every URL associated to the root file of your site.  Be prepared, you will find some “surprises” 🙂  There will be hidden pages that you didn’t realize were live, pages with half-baked content, pages that got buried over the years, the list can be long.  Make sure you spend time cleaning these up so your audit site results in not only making it easier for your customers to find information, but also the search engines.
  • Take the time to pull the traffic numbers for each of the pages.  Make decisions based on your data – if customers aren’t visiting a beautiful shiny page you created last year it could be because (1) they can’t find it or (2) they don’t need it.  Knowing the data will help you determine the best action to take.
  • Remember there are most likely pages on your site that are required to be there.  Often times, license terms or the “fine print” can be found buried on a web site.  Even though the data shows hardly no traffic gets to those pages, most likely someone in your legal department is requiring it to exist.  Often times, I keep a separate list of these URLs and “put them on a shelf”.
  • Don’t forget where you started! Do a quick summary of the number of URLs you had when started, the traffic patterns, and whatever else you want to track.   Post-audit do the same thing and then watch your traffic trends to see if the audit has improved your customers visits and if they are getting to content you want them to get to.
  • Alway focus on ways to shift traffic to your core content, no matter what that content is.  Audits are great ways to shine a light on content that needs improvement.
  • Add filters to the columns that you want to pivot on.  This will help you sort the list a lot faster and is handy once you have more than 100 entries.  The audits I have done usually consisted of at least 2,000 pages – filters were my best friend!

And finally – the most important one of them all. Dedicate focus (do not disturb) time, have a coffee pot close by, and crank your favorite play list – and just get to it.  You’ll find yourself humming along and it’ll be done in no time!