WHAT IS IT?
A content audit is an activity of checking all of the content on a website and compiling it into a big list. There are three main types of audits you can perform:
- Full content inventory: A complete listing of every content item on the site. This may include all pages as well as all assets (such as downloadable files and videos).
- Partial content inventory: A listing of a subset of the site’s content. A partial inventory may include, for example, the top few levels of a hierarchical site or the past six months of articles. All sections of the site will be covered.
- Content sample: A less detailed collection of example content from the site.
WHEN & WHY TO BE USED?
The main purpose of a content audit is to produce a listing of the site’s content, usually in a big spreadsheet.
A content audit is used in the initial phase and this list of content will come in handy at various stages of the project. If you’re re-doing the information architecture, you’ll return to it, again and again, to remind yourself of the details of each page; you can also use it to talk to authors about managing and rewriting their content; and if you’re going to be moving to a new content management system, you’ll use it to keep note of what you started with, and where you’re up to.
Just by taking the audit you’ll get a much better understanding of the content. You may find things you didn’t know existed, spot duplication and identify all kinds of relationships in the content.
WHAT ALL TO INCLUDE?
It is recommended to collect the following information for every page:
- Navigation title: The name of the main navigation link to the content (e.g. the link title in the main navigation)
- Page name: The displayed page title.
- URL: You may want to display the URL or just link from the page name.
- Comments: Notes and things for you to remember.
- Content hierarchy: Some way of showing the basic relationship of the content items.
- Content-Type: Is this a basic page, publication, news story, article, technique, FAQ, or something else?
- Basic content description: A brief reminder about what’s on the page.
- Topic, tags or category: Metadata for products, articles, news, blog posts.
- Author: Who wrote this content?
- Owner: Who is responsible for the content?
- Date last updated: When was the content last updated?
- Attached files: How many files are attached, and what type of files are they?
- Related: What information is linked from sidebars or Related Links boxes on this page?
- Availability: Is the content available to the desktop, mobile and/or app users? Is the content syndicated to other sites?
- A numbering system: An index to help you when referring to each content item.
Once you have collected all the raw data in a spreadsheet, it needs to be assessed in accordance with the objective of the research. Often audits are used to track:
- What pages should be removed
- Whether content need to be revised
- Which content needs to be written due to gaps
- Where content should be mapped to if being moved or if it requires redirects