A content audit is "an accounting of all currently published web content" and a "cornerstone of content strategy". It is a qualitative analysis of information assets on a website; that is, the assessment of content and its relationship to surrounding information assets within specified website content analysis parameters.
A related term, content inventory, is a quantitative analysis of a website. It simply logs what is on a website. A content inventory will answer the question: “What is there?” and can be the start of a website review. A content audit will answer the question: “Is it any good?” Specifically, Slater states that the content audit can answer five questions: What content do we already have?; Who is making this content?; How do people find it?; How is it performing?; and Is the content current (accurate) or outdated?
As the name implies, a full content audit is a complete and comprehensive accounting of website content. A partial content audit focuses on a subcategory of the site, often one among the top site hierarchy. Content sampling merely examines samples of content.
Bloomstein describes a rolling content audit as a means to "monitor and maintain" the initial scan. A content manager may go through the audit process at some agreed-upon time – weekly, monthly, or quarterly – to scan for changes.
A content audit is "the only way to fully understand the structure and quality of the content" on a website. It can help: develop a content strategy; manage content quality; prepare content for a migration or for development of a new site IA or design; evaluate content against business goals, editorial style guidelines, and templates; establish a common language among team members; evaluate content for removal or revision; and pinpoint gaps in content.
Because a content audit is a qualitative analysis, methods used will vary from auditor to auditor, by type of audit being performed, and available tools. While some tools have been developed to help in the content auditing process, human oversight and interaction is essential. A content inventory sheet is used for tracking purposes and typically includes categories for links, format, keywords, content owners, and more.
Methods used to perform a content audit include content ROT (redundant, outdated, trivial) analysis, social media analysis, SEO analysis, competitive analysis, content analysis heuristics (including information scent, differentiation, completeness, consistency, and currency), heat map analysis, among many others.
- Content inventory
- Web content management system
- Web content lifecycle
- Design methods
- Information architecture
- Website governance
- Web archiving
- Halvorson, Kristina; Rach, Melissa (Feb 2, 2012). Content Strategy for the Web (2nd ed.). New Riders. ISBN 978-0321808301.
- Lieb, Rebecca (2011). Content Marketing: Think Like a Publisher - How to Use Content to Market Online and in Social Media. Que Publishing. p. 164. ISBN 978-0789748379.
- "Conducting a website review and implementing results for increased customer engagement and conversions". GOSS Interactive. October 2011. Retrieved 15 September 2013.
- Baldwin, Scott (January 2010). "Doing a content audit or inventory". Retrieved 5 September 2013.
- Marsh, Hilary (March 2012). "How to do a content audit". Retrieved 5 September 2013.
- Slater, Derek (2013). Online Content Marketing In 30 Minutes: A guide to attracting more customers using the Web, email, and social networking. i30 Media Corporation. p. 5. ISBN 978-1939924001.
- "What Is a Content Audit?". wisegeek.com. n.d. Retrieved 5 September 2013.
- Sevilla, Vincent (23 July 2013). "Content Auditing: the Basics". Retrieved 5 September 2013.
- Cushing, Annie (5 November 2012). "Craziest Audit Checklist on the Internet". Retrieved 9 September 2013.
- Anameier, Christine (19 April 2012). "Auditing Big Sites Doesn't Have to Be Taxing". Retrieved 9 September 2013.
- "Content audit guide and template". 4syllables.com. n.d. Retrieved 9 September 2013.
- Bloomstein, Margot (2012). Content Strategy at Work: Real-world Stories to Strengthen Every Interactive Project. Morgan Kaufmann. p. 76. ISBN 978-0123919229.
- Bowles, Cennydd; Box, James (2010). Undercover User Experience Design (Voices That Matter). New Riders. ISBN 978-0321719904.
- Detzi, Christopher (20 March 2012). "From Content Audit to Design Insight: How a content audit facilitates decision-making and influences design strategy". Retrieved 9 September 2013.
- Kadlec, Tim; Gustafson, Aaron (2012). Implementing Responsive Design: Building sites for an anywhere, everywhere web (Voices That Matter). New Riders. ISBN 978-0321821683.
- "Website Content Audits". content-insight.com. n.d. Retrieved 9 September 2013.
- Allen, Rick (13 April 2011). "ROT: The Low-Hanging Fruit of Content Analysis". Retrieved 9 September 2013.
- Kellet, Nick (15 July 2013). "What Can a Content Audit of 22 Top Blogs Teach You?". Retrieved 9 September 2013.
- Kellet, Nick (15 July 2013). "What Makes Content Social? Social Networks vs Content Networks". Retrieved 9 September 2013.
- Jones, Colleen (3 August 2009). "Content Analysis: A Practical Approach". Retrieved 10 September 2013.
- Leise, Fred (12 March 2007). "Content Analysis Heuristics". Retrieved 10 September 2013.
- Content Audits and Inventories: A Handbook by Paula Ladenburg Land
- See chapter 5, "Audit", in Content Strategy for the Web by Kristina Halvorson and Melissa Rach