For many large organisations, content strategy starts with auditing and editing. This can seem really daunting, because these same organisations often have hundreds or thousands or even, heaven forbid, hundreds-of-thousands of pages.And so the simple idea of a content audit quickly becomes very complicated.
Still, content audits are vitally important. And auditing every piece of content on your site can save you millions.
One of the toughest parts of a large-scale audit is figuring out your priorities ahead of time, answering the questions:
A spot audit and a few interviews with key sales and marketing team members will help you start to develop a clear picture of what common content problems exist on your site.Is inaccuracy a big problem? Is formatting inconsistent across the site? What common problems do customers call in or email your team with—and if there’s content that solves that problem on the site, why aren’t they finding or using it?Spend some time digging into common complaints and make a list of your site’s main pain points.
In order to prioritise your edits, you’ll need to understand them within the context of your site and business goals and your user needs. So for each pain point you’ve listed above, the next step is to identify where it’s causing the pain.Next to your listed pain points, identify what the company is losing (time, money, respect, brand advocacy?) because of each particular problem.
Let’s say you’ve identified that all the content your technical support team created before last summer is missing an H1 headline and, as a result, isn’t showing up in site searches. Let’s say you’ve also identified that the pain this is causing the company is in lost time and money because it increases the email volume your support team has to deal with every day, thus increasing overtime hours.Similarly, let’s say you’ve identified that another content pain point is that about half of your promotional content is missing images—and you’ve discovered that promotional content performs 60% better with images, so this, too, is costing the company money.In this example, your list might start out something like this:
Once you’ve made the full list, expand your two columns into three and calculate the cost.If, for example, we know promotional content with images generates 60% more sales (let’s say that represents 100 more sales per month) and the average sale is $100, the value of adding images to a single page would be $10,000.Similarly, if you’ve identified that each missing H1 tag is costing the support team about five hours of extra work per month and support team members make $50 per hour, you can calculate the value of each H1 tag as about $250.Once you have numbers attached to your problems, they become a whole lot easier to prioritise (in this example, adding images becomes priority one and fixing support content, while still important, becomes priority two).
So, those two examples were pretty straightforward…but what about dilemmas with intangible value—like customer trust or engagement?(Hint: this is why the third column above says value, not amount.)When you run into a less tangible problem, you can still use this process to prioritise its edits. Here’s one example:
Let’s say you’ve discovered that accuracy issues in your technical content are not only driving up email volume, but are also driving away customers. It’s not tough to make the argument that losing customers is very expensive. Just ask your sales leadership: What does it cost to acquire a new customer?Let’s say the answer is $100 (this number will vary greatly by type of business).
Let’s also say that each accuracy error is costing 10 customers per month.Which means the company is spending $1,000 every month just to replace customers they’ve lost over a single page.Which would easily push this less tangible problem to the middle of our edits queue.And so our final list would look something like this:
So, before you can start making your edits—or even understanding what edits need to be made—you’ll need to tackle your content audit (or at least start with a spot audit). And hopefully now, once you know what you’re up against, you’ll have the tools to prioritise your edits—and communicate the compelling numbers and reasons behind your priorities when the senior management asks.
Gigi is a content strategist and web writer specializing in travel, technology, education, non-profit, and wellness content. In 2010, she quit her agency job and started Content for Do-Gooders, where she helps clients solve messy content problems around the world. You should follow her on Twitter.