In a perfect world we’d all operate by a tight content strategy, and be be reviewing and updating our web content at regular intervals. In reality, most of businesses don’t have the time to think about an article or case study after it’s published.
Keeping on top of your content is important to both your website performance and your digital strategy as a whole. And there’s no time like a website redesign to finally take that time and review every piece of content on your website. This is the perfect opportunity for reviewing your Google Analytics data to assess page performance, remove the ‘deadwood’, and refresh content for boosted search results and increased conversions.
It’s time for a content audit.
What is a content audit?
At Forge and Smith, we kick off every website redesign project with a full content audit. This is when a content strategist takes a deep dive into the content on your old site and evaluates it against the goals you have set for your new website.
We assess each piece of content against a strategic audit checklist to evaluate its performance, value, and other key factors that impact the rest of your website.
“High-quality web content that’s useful, usable, and enjoyable is one of the greatest competitive advantages you can create for yourself online.” ― Kristina Halvorson, Content Strategy for the Web
This process kickstarts planning for the migration of content to your new website. We work together with clients to decide which content is worth keeping, revising, or deleting, and to explore opportunities for the creation of new content that meets the new goals.
Here’s a sample content strategy checklist that you can use to audit your own content.
Website Redesign Content Strategy Checklist
Even if you don’t have a content strategist on your team, there are some simple questions you can use to assess each piece of content before migrating it to your new site.
Is it current?
Does it contain outdated information? Some content will quickly become irrelevant, and some will retain its value over time.
Is it functional?
Is this content displaying correctly? Are there any broken links or images? Does it have proper meta description for optimal display in search results?
Is it correct?
Is any information incorrect? Check names, addresses, contact details, links to internal or external pages, and even your grammar.
Is it unique?
Is the information on this content redundant (located in more than one place on the site)? Do you have multiple articles on the same topic?
Is it clear?
Is the content scannable and readable?
Is it in the right location?
Is this content easy for the user to find? Should it be located elsewhere in the site, or at a different phase of the user journey?
Is it useful?
Does it offer your audience help with an actual problem for which they would visit your site, and use your products or services? Does it deliver on what the title, meta description, and CTA buttons promise when users click to view it?
Is it effective?
Is the content performing well and contributing to business goals? There are tons of ways to measure this using analytics and SEO tools. Looking at the time spent on page, SEO ranking, and conversions in goal tracking are great places to start.
Take a look each page, post, and other piece of supporting content and ask how many boxes it checks off in the checklist above. If it’s less than half, you may want to consider excluding it from your content migration — following proper SEO protocols to ensure your website’s search ranking signals aren’t impacted. Or, you may decide it’s worth spending the time to refresh it.
If a piece of content checks all the boxes, it’s obviously a keeper.
Be ruthless with your content
Some items will be easier to make decisions about than others, but it’s a good idea to come up with a strategy. Fixing a couple of broken links is not a big deal if the content checks off most of the other boxes. But fixing broken links and editing for readability and correcting factual errors is a much bigger time investment. It’s up to you and your team to decide if it’s worth it.
Our advice? Be ruthless. Don’t hold onto any content that you’re not willing to give a gold star of approval. It will only detract from the rest of the gold star content on your website, and can drag down your website performance and ranking.
Ready to get serious about cleaning up your old content and improving your SEO? Read How to Update, Repurpose & Retire Content!
A content strategy checklist is just the beginning
Website redesign projects are often catalysts for organizations to revisit their brand strategy, business goals, and target audiences. In these scenarios, content audits have the potential to turn into deep soul searching exercises, and the questions above may only scratch the surface of even deeper content-related questions. In that case, a much different content audit is required to ensure that the content on your new site accurately reflects the shift in your organization’s goals.
Review your website’s content against this content strategy checklist regularly, even after your website redesign project is complete. An annual or semi-annual content audit is a crucial part of your content’s lifecycle.