Unsure where to start with the redesign or update of your website, app or other digital channels? The older or bigger the organisation, the more content they often have. Compared to startups, it can be harder to find the starting line for a content strategy or digital transformation project. This is where content audits come in. They give a bird’s-eye view of content, helping organisations create a long-term plan to follow and measure against.
Content audits help you plan how you create and manage content. Content calendars, website updates, social media plans, paid marketing, product releases – you name it. You need to know where things stand before you take your next step.
What is a content audit?
A content audit is an analysis and evaluation of some or all of the content assets within a website or digital platform. It reviews and assesses the quality, relevance, and performance of existing content to help you plan your content strategy.
Content audits are vital before any digital transformation or migration. They identify the strengths, weakness and gaps of your content. This gives you a holistic view and helps you align content goals with business objectives.
How do they work?
Content audits can range in scale. They can focus on one aspect of a business (e.g. social media) through to the entire user experience.
Content audits are often broken up into different approaches with different goals.
Inventory and categorisation: Categorising all existing content based on criteria (e.g. format, topic, and target audience). This is crucial before any analysis can take place.
Evaluation of quality: Assessing the quality and relevance of each piece of content. This could be for things like accuracy, readability, grammar and alignment with brand guidelines. Content that is outdated, redundant, or underperforming is flagged.
Performance analysis: Examining engagement criteria, such as page views, behaviour on site and conversion rates. This helps identify the most successful content and areas that require optimisation.
Gap identification: Identifying content gaps or areas where more content can help. This could be based on user needs, keyword research, or topics that are underrepresented.
SEO assessment: Evaluating the content's SEO performance by looking at things like keywords, metadata, accessibility, UX and linking.
Content recommendations: Providing recommendations for content improvements, updates, consolidation, or removal.
UX: Reviewing the elements of a digital experience from a UX perspective. This can include things like HTML heading structures, image alt tags, links, content structure, user navigation (e.g. breadcrumbs) and other elements of the experience that might impact engagement.
What can a content audit achieve?
A content audit helps you identify three core aspects of content. Is it:
Beyond looking at what’s working and what needs updating, audits help identify opportunities to improve:
Consistency – improve consistency across your content and your brand
Discoverability – improve discoverability (e.g. SEO) of your content
Errors – identify errors or broken aspects of your content
Business opportunities – speak to aspects of your business
Usability – improve the usability of your digital experiences and optimise customer flows
Accessibility – define and update your level of accessibility
Strategy – create a clear path forward for your business and content strategies.
A content audit creates the foundation for consistency across your entire digital ecosystem. It shows you exactly what you’re covering with your content and what gaps exist. This helps you avoid repetitions or redundant content while plugging gaps.
As a copywriting agency, we often see inconsistencies in areas like tone of voice, product naming conventions and brand alignment. And what does this usually point to? A lack of clear content governance. Organisations often lack clear permissions structures or governance strategies for their content management. This always leads to a breakdown in consistency.
A content audit can assess how easy it is for users to find your content. This could cover SEO performance through to the user experience.
You can use specific SEO auditing tools or website analytics to track the performance of your content. Finally, user research helps your understanding of how people interact with your content. It’s often different to how you intended. Using these in conjunction with each other can give you a granular view of the discoverability of your content.
Reviewing your content can help you identify existing problems. These issues or gaps can get in the way of a good user experience and reduce engagement. Some common issues include:
any internal links that might be broken or links to non-existent pages
pictures that are missing correct tags or alt text
missing micro copy, such as clear calls to action (CTA) or page errors
poor user experiences
errors in your product information
A content audit will identify if your content marketing and digital strategies are addressing all aspects of your business. You may find you’re ignoring key elements of your product offering. User research is an important part of finding out whether or not your informing users about your service/product.
UX research helps organisations prioritise updates and back up other insights from a content audit.
Coupled with user research, content audits often lead to a range of benefits in the usability of an organisation’s digital experience. For instance, an audit might find that important content is only accessible through the footer of a website. This might lead to simple UX changes to improve engagement with that content.
You may already have engaging and high-quality content on your website, but can all your users access it? Approximately 1 in 5 of us live with a disability, and this can be temporary (e.g. a broken arm) through to permanent.
iOS screen readers increased in use from 32.6% in December 2010 to 75.6 per cent in October 2017. It’s important your website follows web accessibility guidelines to help all users access your content. This leads to better user experiences and engagement.
There is a range of easy-to-use and insightful digital tools for auditing the accessibility of your website. Use these to analyse colour ratios, links, image alt tags, heading tags, responsiveness and everything else that is covered under the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1).
You can’t find X on the map without first knowing where you are. Content audits are crucial before any content strategy development. From small-scale to comprehensive, a content audit helps you make informed decisions with your strategy.
More in-depth content audits can help you build out sophisticated and clear strategies for growth. Having a granular understanding of your content means you can prioritise and create multi-year strategies for your organisation. How do you know what your business strategy will be for the next five years without knowing how you’re approaching content over that same time period?
Case study: A content audit for one of the world's largest tech companies
Content audits are our bread and butter. Our recent work with one of the world’s largest tech companies has led to a complete overhaul of its design, UX and copy.
Users of this global software brand’s rewards program can earn points and then trade these points in to purchase products or donate money to charity. In 2021, the company identified a need to improve how people discovered and interacted with this rewards platform.
We ran a comprehensive traffic-light content audit of every touch point relating to the platform. We identified different ways to improve engagement through UX and copywriting updates. This led to an overhaul of the different pathways into the rewards program as well as changes to the platform itself.
One key part of a content audit is being able to clearly weight your priorities. The above is an example of how we brought this to life for our client. We came up with an effective but simple-to-use scoring system for all touchpoints. Individual sections of the experience were assessed for the:
readability of content
availability of relevant information for that context
utility of the information and UX of that section
This was our ‘content value score’. We also developed an ‘overall touchpoint score’ based on broader goals we developed for the content. These two scores helped our client address low-hanging fruit and prioritise their updates.
This content audit also lay the foundations for a new content strategy revolving around the significant philanthropic role of the points system. Without a content audit, this new brand positioning might not have been recognised and targeted as a long-term strategic priority.
Do you need a content audit?
Everyone needs to know what content they have and what it’s doing for them. If you want to build out a long-term content strategy that you can measure against, then a content audit is your first step. Regular audits can ensure there is a clear understanding of how a strategy is performing while keeping on top of things like content governance and tone of voice.
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