To audit, or not to audit content: that is the question

Yep, you need content. You know that. Everyone’s telling you that. Even the intern knows that content is going to take your marketing efforts into the modern age. So let’s just get on with it and start publishing content: right?

Not exactly.

While there is an argument to be made that there’s no better way to learn than to – with apologies to Nike – just do it, I argue a different way. It’s something I’ve previously written about, too. Before you jump in and start the creation process, even before you jump in and write your content strategy, there’s something you have to do: a content audit.

Why conduct a content audit?

There’s no point reinventing the wheel. It may be that the old content just needs a lick of paint to spruce it up. Of course, it may be that the old content is really under-selling – or even mis-selling – your business, and that’s crucial for you to know.

The size, scope and reach of your content audit really depends on your resourcing, but at the very least you should size up existing web pages, collateral and publications to see if they’re still relevant. Say what you will about constantly-changing search algorithms, they are really raising the bar for content marketing.

If you have budget, it’s best to bring in external experts who can assess without prejudice, and conduct a thorough audit. There’s a great piece on the Content Marketing Institute’s site looking at why you need a full audit; I highly recommend going there next.

The big content audit questions

For each pieces of content, ask yourself:

  • What’s it about?
  • Is it accurate?
  • Is it up-to-date?
  • Does it support current business goals?
  • Does it support your audience’s goals?
  • Can it be found easily?
  • Is it in the right tone and style?
  • Is that tone consistent across all content?
  • Is the messaging consistent across all content?
  • Is your content logically organised?
  • Does digital content have basic SEO elements in place?

Put together a spreadsheet that tracks the file name or URL, the publish date, your answers to the above, and mark each as keep, update or remove.

Mind the gaps

Once you’ve got that done, you should – fingers crossed – be able to easily identify any missing material. It could be that, as your content library has grown organically, new services or products or thoughts have been overlooked or even misrepresented. Your content audit is necessary to help you identify those gaps, and make sure that the voice and messaging you’re putting out there in the big bad world is truly reflective of your company as it is now, not a few years ago.

What’s next?

No content audit is complete without recommendations, so don’t just create your giant spreadsheet and sit back with a smile. It’s your job as content owner to pour over it all, rate it all, and decide the fate of each and every piece of content. Only then can you truly start your new content journey, and have a site that search engines will love. It’s all about quality, timely and relevant content, after all.

And as for the answer to the question posed at the top of the page? Of course you need a content audit. To ignore the task would be as tragic as Hamlet.