A content audit can tell a thousand stories and provide the foundations for a robust governance framework, identify gaps in content and inform your current, or future, site navigation.
Firstly, I’d like to apologise for the slightly retro nature of these slides. PowerPoint and Photoshop respectively are my content kryptonite so we are going old skool.
So, what do I do? I work with content under the guises of Intranet Manager, Content Manager and even System Platforms Manager but I effectively manage and optimise content in a predominantly SharePoint environment but the outputs from this presentation can be applied to any platform.
So, lets crack on……
I know right?
You see the word "auditing" and straightaway think "urgh, pants". But bear with me here….
I want to outline how a content audit can be pants but much, much better. The Spanx of your strategy, in fact…. something that works behind the scenes to give great shape to your content….
I’ve rarely found this to be the case and the goal here is to give content back its crown.
I imagine this resonates with a lot of you!
I’ve worked for a lot of companies where there is a huge buzz around Power BI, dashboards and chatbots.
The mindset is often, let’s give them jazzy and they may not notice the content is still dross.
To be fair though, where would you even start? Right at the beginning with a content audit…..
If that sounds like a lofty undertaking, think about the content you can’t see.
Pages held in draft version.
Extremely important sites that had to be created NOW that remain unpopulated and unpublished.
Let’s not forget 20 different versions of the same image……you get the picture!
A content audit will not only reveal the myriad of content that lives in your intranet but provides a wireframe of your entire current site structure – affectionately known as “the back end”.
So, why get on board? Perhaps….
Your company is planning a platform upgrade or migration of content (this is when audits are typically addressed)
Do all your site pages have an allocated owner, is content currency an issue, are there any broken links?
Does the existing governance encompass all these points or could you use workflows to ensure these points are actioned?
It’s a rare opportunity to review the format of existing content against other mediums.
Could interviews be video based rather than written?
Could Tech FAQs be turned into a Helpdesk blog?
Are there any new web parts or apps to support or enhance existing content?
Training opportunities can also be identified here – are your content editors familiar with the platform functionality and apps?
Performing your content audit gives you the “what” – a representation of the breadth of your content.
Metrics then gives you the “why”.
Content audits are labour intensive and here is your return on investment.
A detailed account of what content is performing well and insights into what engaging content looks like.
An opportunity to benchmark existing content and set measurable KPIs.
Ahead of a platform upgrade you have the data to leverage what content works well and should be migrated (and should ensure a metrics tool is implemented well in advance of any migration piece)
I’ll preface this by saying that content audits can be automated but I would only recommend doing this in tandem with a manual audit.
A manual audit means you get down and dirty with the content.
You can see from a glance whether it is on brand, aligns with company objectives and provides useful information for employees.
Here are all the components you might be looking to cover off.
In my experience, auditing sites as separate excel documents is much more straightforward.
Less online lag and easier to share, for example, someone from Finance wants to see their data and you can pull that single document rather than disentangle it from the entire site structure.
So, these would form the suggested columns for your content audit spreadsheet, mostly standard stuff
Including template type can help inform platform requirements in a migration project so worth incorporating
2 optional columns not included here are Comments and Metadata
Comments can give context where required
Metadata is usually transferred automatically during a content migration process but here you can see what your keywords are and whether they need updating
A fully comprehensive content audit will cover all of these components.
But let me tell you, mining image libraries is no joke and extremely time consuming and, arguably, pointless.
Focus on related resources – where is the content used? - consider archiving that which is effectively nomadic.
Otherwise you may never see the light of day again.
Here is an example audit template which you can access at this link.
Where dealing with swathes of content, use a traffic light system so you can see at a glance how much work the site needs.
If content is underperforming a comments column could be used to outline possible reasons why, e.g. if poorly signposted.
So, how does all this data tie in with your governance plan and content strategy?
Content accountability provides one example of how a governance model can be improved following an audit.
Identifiable content owners and editors who have a clear understanding of which pages they are responsible for and what their individual roles are is key.
How many times have you tried to track down a content editor only to discover the task has been delegated to a secretary who uploads content for her team, no questions asked? That’s assuming you find an editor at all!
Defining and documenting roles is paramount.
An owner could be a business head with oversight of content scope and ultimate responsibility for ensuring content review timelines are met.
An editor might then facilitate the upload and management of content, receive training on new web parts and apps and optimise the content.
Site permission models and access should reflect the responsibilities of each role.
I cannot stress enough the need for clear guidelines around this!
Finally, in an ideal world, this would be part of employee BAU; form part of their job spec and performance review #incentivise.
Content quality is the core of any strategy and metrics used in your audit will facilitate this as well as inform the strategy as it evolves.
I have always used Google Analytics to capture this as I find SharePoint metrics very limited.
Whatever you are using, it is worthwhile mining search terms to see what terminology your users favour and incorporate that as part of your metadata/keywords, as well as your navigation labels if appropriate.
Does the user journey indicate that your navigation is well used or could you scale it down, or swap links out?
Forming part of a content strategy or possibly a continuous improvement process, regular updating of this document allows you to see at a glance which sites are performing well (and which are not).
Owners and editors can see at high level the areas they are responsible for (rather than keeping a running mental tally).
Get the audit on the agenda of your intranet steering committee meetings until its no longer regarded as a once a decade undertaking but an ongoing process.
Thank you for your time today! I just want to leave you with a quote that resonates with me. In our rush to generate content we sometimes overlook the why.
Why not only gives meaning to what we do (I promise not to start chanting here!) but helps us to create user centred content which aligns to our #business goals.
Auditing your intranet content — Annette Corbett — DigiSEO
The graft that keeps giving
A really long time ago, a very
clever man said …..
and yet, many years later, we are still
Which of the six
versions of the
the right one?
This content was last
updated in 2014
– is it still relevant?!
But what do the labels in the
global navigation actually
So, what exactly is a content audit? 4
Simply put, a content audit is
…"the analysis of all the content and
component parts that make up your
intranet ecosystem. Sites, sub-sites,
pages, blogs, documents and images, the
…and the benefits? Ask yourself…
Is your content strategy and governance plan
firing on all cylinders?
Is your content current, actively reviewed with
Are you preparing for a platform upgrade?
…not forgetting the secret sauce
...the “why” of
Template format What can you audit?
What to include in your content audit -
Sub-site (if any)
Last modified date
Content Owner (or not!)
Workflows (if any)
Page Metrics (evaluate engagement)
What to include in your content audit –
Other Assets incl documents, media,
Asset location (Page URL)
File type (wmv, png, pdf)
Modified date (was Noah reading this on the Ark?)
Related Resources (where else is this asset used?)
Light it up! 10
Use a traffic light scheme to highlight areas of concern……
Leverage your audit findings to build
Make ownership mandatory
Define owner and editor roles and
Ensure site permission facilitate roles
…and inform your content strategy
Content currency – are outdated
content and documents a recurring
Is your audience engaging with
Do pages linked to your navigation
have high engagement?
Does site terminology reflect user
• Establish content
review timelines and
• Create KPIs against
which to benchmark
• Timelines to review
metrics for pages
linked to your
• Regular review of
Turn your content audit into a working
document and be like…
Create a workflow to document site
or page creation
As part of your content strategy
regularly update your master
document with these details
Share updated audit with site
owners and request review of
Keep the conversation going
“One of the best ways to sabotage
your content is not tie it to your
goals. Know why you’re creating
Ellen Gomes, Senior Content Marketing
Manager at Marketo
A final content goal….