5 Lessons Learned from a Content Audit

Keep. Throw. Donate.

If you’ve ever moved, you’re likely familiar with these three words. Moving is a perfect time to clear out clutter and start fresh at your new place. Your favorite pair of hiking boots? Keep. A paper from your first college English course? Throw. That old smoothie machine? Donate.


A website redesign project often starts in a similar way - with a content audit. What content can be used word-for-word? Repurposed? Or completely scrapped?

Here are five lessons I learned while doing a content audit for a recent website redesign.

Lesson #1: Define your overall goals before you start.
When starting a content audit, think about your end-goal. Are you hoping to improve your conversion rate, keyword ranking or site rank? Maybe you need to re-align with your brand personas. Perhaps you’re tasked with adapting to a different site structure. By thinking about your goals first, the more helpful your content audit will be when it’s time to write.

Lesson #2: Spreadsheets are your friend.
Many writers have a hate-hate relationship with Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets and the rest of the cell-centric crowd of applications. While most of us are comfortable with their word processing counterparts, a content audit should be carried out in some sort of spreadsheet application. Many content analysis tools even start the spreadsheet for you (see Lesson #3).


Lesson #3: Use a tool to help with inventory.
Most content audits begin with a content inventory. (Read about the differences here.) While a content inventory can be time-consuming, many tools are available to make the process easier. We used Content Analysis Tool (CAT). Others include URL Profiler, Screaming Frog, or even Google Analytics.

Lesson #4: Don’t forget extra content that isn’t on a webpage.
In the depths of a content audit, it’s easy to overlook content that doesn’t reside on a webpage. Consider auditing your lead nurture emails, product PDFs, sales intranets and even social media channels. Don’t forget SEO elements like meta descriptions, title tags and alt tags. They all might contain helpful content you might want to include on your redesigned site.

Lesson #5: Rank every bit of content.
One of the most valuable outputs of a content audit is the ability to differentiate the good, the bad and the ugly content. Develop a ranking system that works for you, and stick to it. A couple examples might include:

  • Quality: A-F grades, numerical (e.g., 1-10) or other ways (e.g., current, relevant, appropriate)
  • Action: Keep as-is, update or delete

Using a consistent ranking method will help you when it comes to content outlines and writing processes.

Remember, just like moving, a content audit is hardly the most enjoyable part of the website redesign process. But after you’ve completed it, you’ll find yourself one step closer to where you want to be.



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