Confessions of a Content Strategist #3: Paula Land
The Content Strategy Capes are back! This month we talk to Paula Land, a problem solver extraordinaire!
One of the defining features of a content strategist is his or her ability to identify a problem and find a solution. Paula Land is a revealing example of someone who found a technology solution to add to the toolboxes of content strategists: the automated content audit.
Did Someone Just Say Content Audit?
Equally dreaded and revered by content professionals the world over, the content audit is a necessary step in digital strategy success. How can you create a digital strategy if you’re not aware of the content you already have on your digital properties (website, social media channels, etc.)?
Paula’s experiences in content management provide her with a unique view of the content landscape. Her professional experiences included book publishing, managing a huge library of technical content for Microsoft (MSDN, Microsoft Developer Network), and forays into information architecture. She also worked at Razorfish, and then started working as an independent consultant doing large content projects.
What all this content experience taught Paula was that time and resources are often limited for doing the deep dive auditing that results in well-informed content strategies. She started thinking of ways to make the process easier and faster and decided to build an automated content auditing tool. You can see the Content Analysis Tool (CAT) at content-insight.com.
Content Audits Automated
Too often, organizations and clients think they know exactly what they have. When I tried out CAT, I was amazed by how much stuff I have on my website. I was proud to see that pages were meta tagged properly and that my information architecture was holding up well—content wasn’t out of place. But, if my website were a closet, I would have completely lost track of pairs of shoes and accessories.
By using the automated tool, I was able to get an in-depth look at my site that would have taken me about four hours to put together myself. Now multiply that time savings out for a much larger site (mine is about 40 pages) and you can see the value of the tool.
Paula’s understanding of why this tool is so necessary in today’s digital marketplace comes from her prior content experiences. Even though her background began in editorial, Paula “really enjoyed the technical side of it. I had an interest in content management and was able to focus on the tools and structural aspects of a content strategy.”
Content Inventories without Pain
Paula’s interest in the tools aspect – gained from doing many technical projects, like CMS implementations – was the fuel that stoked the energetic fire she needed to change the landscape of how we audit content. It’s why she created the Content Analysis Tool; the tool creates automated content inventories. It crawls the website and:
- Returns all of the data about the content on the site—all of the documents, images, media files and metadata associated with every page
- Lists of all the pages that link in and out of each page
- Takes a screenshot of each page so you can visually identify templates and track how a page has changed over time
You can easily export the results to Excel as you see in this screen shot. So far, the tool has crawled sites up to 150,000 pages with no problems.
|CAT tool exported to Excel (click on image to enlarge)|
You can try the tool free for 1,000 pages; it’s absolutely worthwhile to sign up and play with it. It has some nice features and can definitely cut into your workload.
What I most liked about talking to Paula was feeling inspired by her experiences; she saw a problem and created a solution using technology. Mandy Brown has done something similar with Editorially, a new tool for digital authors. Check out Fast Company’s review of the new CMS-like product. It’s exciting that we’re putting our heads together to solve these problems.
Keep rocking the capes, content strategists. You’re doing an amazing job of saving the world, one 0 and 1 at a time.
Read our other Confessions of a Content Strategist: