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What is a Content Audit?

By Tess C. Taylor
Updated May 16, 2024
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With so much of the Internet driven by web content, performing a content audit can be the single-most important activity to ensure optimum visibility of a website. Content audits, which are sometimes called content inventories or content assessments, are conducted to ensure that text, images and links are all in working order. In addition, a content audit can reveal problems with user-friendliness of a website so that corrections and improvements can be made to make it more useful to visitors.

A content audit is made up of two critical activities: taking a careful inventory of existing web content and then making changes to improve the performance of the website as a whole. In order to conduct a this type of audit, it’s critical to handle these tasks in two distinct steps so that it is performed thoroughly and without bias. Generally, the content audit is performed by an independent team of website content managers and web designers who will evaluate each page of a website on each level of content.

Performing a content audit is a tedious process of reviewing each and every section of a website. Starting with the most critical areas of the website, such as the home page, the audit should address any glaring issues with presentation of the content and the overall design of the website. Once any problems are identified, the content audit moves on to the actual inspection of the text, links and images contained on each webpage, while the web design team works to correct formatting issues.

As the content audit progresses, data should be saved to an external spreadsheet or file in order to protect any proprietary content. This will be a guide that will help keep the content inventory process in order and retain any data that could be easily lost as the audit goes on. In addition, the content spreadsheet will give content managers a record of corrections made which will help web designers as they work on re-designing critical areas of the website.

Once a full content assessment and correction is completed, content managers must continue to monitor the website in order to ensure that keywords and links are maintained for optimum performance of the website. In addition, updates to live feeds such as blogs or comment areas should be monitored to make sure they project an active and professional image to the world. Additional audits can be performed periodically to keep the website performing effectively over time.

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Discussion Comments
By MrMoody — On Jul 26, 2011

@Charred - I agree that content is king. Unfortunately many of the tutorials you see online on how to do a website don’t place enough emphasis on the content.

They talk about the home page, the about us page, how to create links, images, etc. In other words, they’re just focusing on the mechanics of creating a website. But if all you’re concerned about is the mechanics you can buy a website template or use a wizard and you’ll have your site out in a flash.

If there’s not much quality content, however, no one will pay a visit. Internet users are looking for information. Furthermore, I’d like to add that most of them are not looking for pizzazz.

So I believe that when you conduct your content audit, you should remove a lot of the whiz-bang animations that many users find so distracting, and just focus on content, content, content, in an easy to find manner. I guarantee you that visitors will keep coming back more.

By Charred — On Jul 25, 2011

@Mammmood - One of the ways that I’ve found to keep content fresh is simply to use material from content distribution services.

These are actual websites on the Internet that have articles on a wide variety of topics, which can be distributed free to webmasters, for the taking.

The only restriction is that you have to leave the original author’s byline in the article. This may not be appropriate for corporations, but for individuals running websites, using previously published website articles may not be a bad way to go.

This way you can always ensure that you have fresh, quality content for your site.

By Mammmood — On Jul 25, 2011

@SkyWhisperer - I’d like to add one thing that I believe is important – although I don’t know if technically it falls within the category of a content audit – is a review of the quality of the content itself, not simply the presentation.

Content can become dated rather quickly and I am always looking for information that is fresh and useful. I believe that an audit should scrub the content for freshness.

This may already be part of the audit, I don’t know, but from reading the article it appears that most of the focus is on the mechanics of the website’s operation and aesthetics.

By SkyWhisperer — On Jul 24, 2011

I can’t recall the number of times that I’ve gone to a website and clicked on a link, only to find that the link was broken – or pointed to the wrong page.

As a rule Internet users are a very impatient bunch. If they can’t find what they want within the first few seconds of visiting a web page, they will be gone in a hurry. To that end, I think that a web content audit is a very useful and necessary function of website maintenance.

I personally think that the webmaster should perform the conduct audits himself on an ongoing basis, rather than waiting for a team of auditors to conduct the process. It’s his baby, so to speak, so he should make it his responsibility to make sure that it’s working properly.

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