Content audits: The five most common mistakes

By Lauren Clarke, senior digital consultant, Radley Yeldar

One advantage of  redesigning and rebuilding websites for clients, is that we spend a lot of time evaluating their existing content. And a content audit is crucial to creating standout websites.

It’s kind of like moving to a new home. You may bring a fair amount with you, you may get rid of old things that won’t fit or go with your ‘new look’, and you might invest in some new things too!

So, what is a content audit and why do one?

The purpose of a content audit is to analyse your content and determine whether it is valuable, relevant and useful. It often helps to point out where valuable content is missing, what needs work or what is perfectly fine as is. 

Why do I need a content audit and when do I do one?

There’s never a bad time to audit your content. Typically, we find clients look to do them when they are rebuilding or reskinning their websites. The other prevalent time is when they’re looking at a particular section they are aware needs work, and want to know where to start. 

So where do you start? Well, maybe you should be thinking about what not to do.

The five most common content auditing mistakes:

Mistake 1: Confusing your content mission with your business mission

Your content is not the medium to convey your business mission. Your audiences are interested in how your business relates to them, how it eases their pain points, and how you provide value to them. 

They aren’t interested that you want to ‘be the global leader in your sector’, they are interested in how you’re going to get there. Be clear on the distinction.

Mistake 2: Using vague objectives and criteria to evaluate the content

Vague evaluation criteria will take you longer to determine whether it’s useful and will likely result in an output that won’t yield clear recommendations. 

Here’s an example:

Wrong: Content should express we are the global leading brand in our sector.

Right: Content should express global leadership by demonstrating how we enhance productivity; our ability to grow in developing markets and how we break into emerging markets.

Mistake 3: Only looking at copy

Copy is not the only form of content. It may seem like a pain or too costly to have to re-visit videos, or re-design infographics, or replace photography, but it’s important to review all of the content types that make up a page.

We often see new sites launched with relevant, recently written copy but then old infographics and videos that date the page instantly, whether they’re either off brand or no longer accurate in terms of the information. 

Mistake 4: Not having clear take-aways once it’s done

The inventory of a site and an analysis of each page is only half the job. The other half is making sure that off the back of your page review, you’ve got a clear idea of the jobs to be done. If a page isn’t meeting your criteria, what are your recommendations to get it where it needs to be?

Another part of the analysis should be broader, over-arching observations. An example of this might be that you’ve noticed inconsistencies in content creation caliber, or that some sections have more content than others. 

Your take-away shouldn’t just be page-specific. Additionally, you should start making some broad stroke analysis along the way to see if you can spot some wider issues in content creation that needs addressing so you don’t end up in the same place as before.

Mistake 5: Doing a content audit in isolation of other audits

There are additional forms of analysis that can really contribute to the overall assessment of your content. Content really isn’t just about what you put on each page. There’s way more to it and getting it right requires looking at it from all angles:

  • Data analysis: How content it performing based on data analytics, like page traffic, time spent or bounce rates
  • SEO / keyword analysis: A review of SEO performance for the existing site against keywords and competitors 
  • UX analysis: A review of the site journeys and architecture
  • Taxonomy analysis: How content is tagged to filter properly and connect content together

It isn’t always about how to. It’s also useful to look at where things may go wrong, so you’re careful not to make these mistakes when you embark on your content audit journey.

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