Updated October 7, 2021
You cannot manage what you cannot measure. Measure what matters with a content audit.
Often, clients ask us to write new content or edit existing content for a content refresh. Our first step? Understanding their current content landscape .
What does the look like right now? How is it performing? Armed with this real , we can then help make the best decision about how to change and improve .
To dive deeper into Three of our content strategists — Anna Hrach, Katie Giraulo and Talia Eisen — will provide their own unique answers to your burning content audit questions below. audits, let’s examine some of the most common questions we hear from healthcare organizations.
Who should conduct the content audit and when?
Katie: Anyone can conduct an audit if they have the time and motivation! Ideally, someone close to the property should do the audit. So if it’s a website, the managing editor could lead the audit and assign pieces of it to the web team or other stakeholders.
In fact, sometimes it’s helpful to pull in people who don’t normally work on your site but have opinions about it. Assigning them some defined audit tasks can be a great way of showing (vs. talking about) the challenges you’re up against and sharing ownership in success.
If you don’t have the capacity in-house or you want to make sure you’re scoping the job right, you can hire an outside content strategy consultant. Your content strategist should have a thorough diagnostic discussion with you about your goals and challenges.
Anna: The person conducting the content audit should have a strong connection to the content. They don’t have to be a content creator, but they should manage, lead or participate in the content they’re about to audit. While it may be tempting to pass this off to an intern or someone else who may have extra bandwidth, it is critical that content audits stay connected to the content owners. Conducting a content audit involves a lot of context and measurement, and that’s not something that’s always easy to translate to those who are not connected to content.
As far as timing goes, conduct an audit the minute you realize you don’t quite know what’s happening with your content, or you’re not sure how things are performing. After that, it really depends on how much content you’re creating. If it’s a couple of content pages or pieces per year, then an annual audit may suffice. However, if you’re creating content regularly, and it’s an ongoing effort, consider doing a quarterly audit.
Talia: It’s hard to be critical of something in which you have a vested interest. So ideally, someone who has no stake in the game should be involved in conducting the audit as well. Someone who finds it hard to throw things out will find it challenging and unproductive to clean their closet. They’ll say, “I may wear this when I reach my target weight,” or, “I should save that in case I get invited to a destination wedding.” A person who’s not as attached to the content can help with efficiency, reminding the auditing team that that there’s no point in holding on to something for just-in-case scenarios.
It’s especially important to audit before adding content. Make sure to really know what you have, both in quantity and quality, before creating more. This way, you start the content creation process with a clear plan, knowing what will be updated, what will be removed and what needs to be created.It’s especially important to audit before adding content. Make sure to really know what you have, both in quantity & quality, before creating more. Click To Tweet
Learn more about why, when and how to conduct a website content audit.
What type of audit do you find to be the most helpful?
Katie: This is like asking someone to pick a favorite pair of shoes! It 100% depends on the job. My personal favorite is a deep, holistic audit that takes into account an end-to-end user journey. But even a basic inventory is useful. I’ll say this: You want to do just enough auditing to make the case for improving a critical part of your content.
There’s no need to audit ALL THE THINGS all the time, in every situation. Sometimes a basic inventory is enough to, say, prove that way too much content exists in an area that you’ve already determined isn’t an organizational priority. Try your best to not get bogged down in a massive project if all you need is to make a single point. Baby steps.
It’s like progressive disclosure: Peel back only the layers you need to peel back right now. It’ll make the process less painful because you’re not trying to boil the ocean, and your stakeholders will buy in because they’ll see quick wins. All that said, there are a million invisible connections with content, and sometimes you will need to boil the ocean. In those cases, by all means, go for it. Just be smart about it either way, and know why you’re making the choices you’re making.
The best kinds of audits are the ones you’re actively involved in. A lot of programs can crawl your site (i.e. ) and pull reams of data for you. These are great – just be sure you’re still the one in the driver’s seat. This means you:
- Direct what you want to know
- Are constantly involved in making sense of what you find out and filling in the gaps
Anna: A combination of qualitative and quantitative. It’s important to look at what the is, then gauge quality toward that, along with voice, tone, style, etc. However, adding analytics can provide an entirely different perspective. For example, maybe a page is performing exceedingly well, but it’s completely off on . That is resonating with users; it’s just a matter of bringing it into alignment. We don’t need to cut or redo it completely, which we may have been tempted to do if we had only looked at one side. Looking at both the qualitative and quantitative pieces will help ensure there’s balance to your findings.
Talia: Although the goal is usually to have quality over quantity, it’s helpful to look at the quantity first. The first step is to assess how much you have and where you have it. Then comb through again and look at the quality. Once you evaluate the quality, you can more easily tell how much work you have ahead of you.
What usually surprises people about audits? What side benefits can you expect?
Katie: People are usually surprised that they’re not surprised! Medical organizations often decide to audit so they can validate their well-founded instincts about certain issues with their content. (When you work on the content, you know what’s wrong with it!)
So, they find what they’re looking for, which is a good thing, because now they have the evidence to back up the changes they want to make. A common phrase we hear after a healthcare content marketing audit is, “Yep. These are the issues we expected to see.” If the client is committed to regular checkups and maintenance on their site or property, sometimes they’re surprised about how well they’re doing. It’s human nature to avoid peeling back the layers on a potential problem because we’re afraid to look.
Happily, what often greets us isn’t all that bad. (Hint: So be brave and look!) Side benefits? Good habits beget others. The more you make it a practice to know what’s going on with your content, the more inspired (and supported) you’ll feel to do other cool things with your messaging.The more you make it a practice to know what’s going on with your content, the more inspired you’ll feel to do other cool things with your messaging. Click To Tweet
Anna: In my experience, it’s one extreme or the other: Either everything comes as a complete shock, or nothing is shocking. For the former, most are surprised at the sheer volume of content that has been created and then forgotten about, or even the sheer lack of underperforming content. For the latter, they’re typically not surprised because they had a feeling about what was going on, and the audit confirmed their suspicions.
Talia: The most surprising part of an audit and content inventory is usually the content that has not been updated, either pages that are buried or not easily findable. When you see “last updated …” and that date goes back more than a couple of years, your reaction tends to be, “Good thing we’re auditing this now!”
What am I supposed to do with a content audit once I’ve done one? How do I make it matter within my healthcare organization?
Katie: Socialize, socialize, socialize. Share your audit process, and share your success with anyone who will listen. Early on, identify the people who care about your content – even the ones who “care” by complaining about it all the time! Then pull them in to the audit planning phase, if they’re willing. Ask them what they want to discover and hope you find.
To a degree, you need to structure the audit to incorporate what’s important to them, so they’ll stick with you throughout the journey. Explain to them how an audit will make each marketing asset better and therefore deliver on your organization’s mission or bottom line. Then, once you’ve begun, give stakeholders a task so they’ll feel connected and engaged. If they’re too busy for this (and some will be), be proactive about showing them frequent progress reports. As much as possible, tailor the audit report to speak to the issues/areas of content they care about. Then finish the job on time, and quickly connect your findings to actionable next steps.
Anna: Wrap up the findings and distill them down into a short yet impactful brief. Be sure to consistently answer, “Why does this matter?” It can be easy to start listing stats and facts, but reframing findings as opportunities or to-dos can really make someone listen. Also, a site audit shouldn’t just be about criticizing work, but it can be easy to slip into that mode. No one likes being criticized, so it’s important to frame everything properly.When presenting content audit findings to stakeholders, distill findings down into a short yet impactful brief. Be sure to consistently answer, “Why does this matter?” Click To Tweet
Talia: Share your findings and allow people to digest the information. It’s a lot to take in at once. Once everyone has processed the information, allow them to brainstorm and provide feedback. By gathering comments and suggestions, you can come up with a plan of action that is goal-oriented.
The Healthcare Content Audit from Aha Media Group
Our content strategists have years of experience auditing website content for healthcare brands, big and small. There are 3 types of content audits and assessments we provide:
Strategic content assessments
We examine your content to assess the overall quality and clarity of messaging. We evaluate content for:
- Alignment with business objectives
- Web writing best practices
- Audience, voice and tone guidelines
- Search engine best practices
- Usability best practices
- Web analytics performance
After our content audit, we recommend content opportunities and best practices that make sense for your organization. If you’re looking for content development, we seamlessly take that strategy and turn it into content that delivers results.
Competitive gap analyses
We take a deep dive into your competitors’ content to analyze what they’re doing well and where you have an advantage (or where you can create one). In a competitive gap analysis, we review the competition’s:
- Website navigation and usability
- Content organization
- Content types and distribution
- Voice and tone
- SEO and web writing competencies
With these content audit findings, we present key areas of opportunity for content development within your organization.
Multidimensional content maps
We build a map of your web pages, so you can see how they all relate and link. Then we overlay your analytics data so you can see how customers are moving throughout the site. These maps help you:
- Understand how your content is performing overall
- Decide how to move ahead with website redesigns
- Streamline workflow processes
After analyzing the content maps, we grade each page. Then a full picture emerges of how your content is performing. We also recommend options to fill content gaps with content your users are searching for on the web.
If you have further questions about our healthcare content audits, or you’re ready to move forward, contact us today.