Content audits involve making judgement calls about existing content, and often involve a lot of negotiation. You’ll need to work hard to maintain good relationships throughout the audit.
Get to know your stakeholders
Your audit will have more chance of success if you have an agreed process. You should start by discussing roles and responsibilities for the content audit with your stakeholders. For example, find out who has the authority to ensure the quality of content and its ongoing maintenance.
If you don’t know who the stakeholders or page owners are you could run an internal survey. Your survey should ask people to indicate whether they need to have input into specific content.
Before you start your content audit, get buy-in from everyone involved, ideally from the top down. Having stakeholder agreement early on can help things move along more smoothly.
Share your content audit plan widely. Bring stakeholders along on the journey with regular communication and evidence of what’s working well and what’s not.
Think about the skills you might need and if you can use anyone in your existing team. It is useful to have the following people in your team:
- a leader who is user-focused and good at building relationships
- a subject expert
- an expert in accessible online writing and editing
- someone who knows about IT, search engine optimisation and/or web analytics
- someone who knows about web publishing
Keep all the relevant stakeholders engaged as you move through your content audit. You can keep the engagement going through:
- ongoing communication (for example, email updates)
- workshops for sharing ideas and problem-solving
- updates and check-ins
Work with subject experts
A content audit is an exercise where everyone works together towards a common goal — to improve content for the user.
Subject experts can sometimes feel a personal attachment to content they have developed and published. A lot of time and energy goes into writing specialist or technical content.
It can also be a time-consuming task getting reviews and sign-off to publish on a website. As a result, it can be difficult for some people to see content decommissioned, rewritten or merged in with other similar content on the website.
Be sure to empathise with subject experts if you’re working with line areas to conduct a content audit. Make sure experts feel involved, and acknowledge the expertise that each group brings. This will make it easier to work towards the common goal of improving the user's experience.
Tips for successful auditing
- Discuss and define roles and responsibilities with the teams involved, so that everyone understands how they can best contribute.
- Listen to and document any concerns and needs that get raised.
- Communicate often. Set up regular catch-up meetings to discuss progress. This is also a good way for the wider team to get to know your stakeholders.
- Work with stakeholders on the main aspects of the audit. This includes setting up any technical work, and the process you’ll follow when auditing the content. You may be able to share skills and knowledge with each other to make things easier and more efficient.
Manage content publishing schedule
It’s hard to audit content that’s changing.
Putting in place a content freeze during your audit might help you manage the workload. A content freeze restricts what can be changed on the website and whether any new content can be published.
You will need to negotiate the scope of the freeze and any time frames with executives and content owners. Also, be aware of any upcoming publishing that will need to be factored in during your audit. (For example, ministerial announcements or legislative changes.)
An alternative approach is to place a content freeze on your high-profile pages only, and audit those pages as a priority. You can consider auditing the other pages on your site at another time.