The cornerstone of content strategy

Content audits

Like us, you spend your three most valuable resources on your website: money, energy and time. You want to reach your audience and move them to act, and you need a solid content strategy in order to interact with them. Therefore, staying relevant and accurate are the best ways to engage with your audience. As you’re developing new programs, offerings, content and news, you should be in the habit of looking over your existing content with a critical eye to see what’s outdated, or inaccurate as your organization evolves.

The truth is, websites become outdated quickly, and so does the accuracy of your copy as soon it is published.

A full content audit can be a big undertaking – it involves systematically poring over each page of your site, evaluating each sentence – checking verb tenses and dates. But it can also be enormously valuable and even iterative updates can help extend the life and maintain the utility of your site.

Hint: A fresh set of eyes can be a big help here. If you’ve read this content 10 times, you’re not going to spot discrepancies as easily as someone who hasn’t read it before.

When reviewing your site content, you may wish to set up a spreadsheet to track found issues. Columns that may be helpful:

  • Location – the URL of the page with the issue
  • Problem – description of what needs to be changed
  • Solution – description of the solution
  • Approval – who’s responsible for approving the change, if necessary
  • Assigned – who’s responsible for making the change on the site
  • Status – to mark when the change is complete

Between major audits, you can do quick reviews of key content areas to ensure that they remain as fresh and accurate as possible.

A few things to look out for:

1. Dates
How many times have you read announcements on websites about exciting initiatives or products they’re planning to launch, but it’s dated six months ago? When cleaning up dates, be on the lookout not only for time, but also look at dates such as the trademark sign at the bottom of your page with an outdated year. These are the minute things that potential clients notice. Below is an example of a quick and easy change you can make:

  • “We’ve been in business for 10 years,” is wrong next year
  • “We’ve been in business since 2001” is accurate forever

2. Names and titles
Did someone get married and/or promoted? Did your board or, association or country elect a new president? Did your organization’s name or legal status change?

3. Contact information
Do all email and snail mail addresses, phone numbers, links and forms work? And while you’re at it – are they consistent? 555-555-555 vs (555) 555-555… it’s the little things.

4. Links
Test each link by clicking on it – not just by hovering. Links break, and even authoritative sources move, remove or rename files with impunity (thoughtless of them, really). Sometimes sites vanish entirely or become subscription-based.

5. Graphics
Don’t forget to scan all charts, graphics and logos, including captions and credit or copyright information.

6. Analytics
Analyze content page views, sharing, referral traffic, and choose to keep as-is, improve, remove or consolidate.

Following these steps will help you keep an eye on existing content and better write future copy while staying relevant and accurate, with your head in the game.

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