“Your web content will never take care of itself” ~ Kristina Halvorson, Content Strategy for the Web
If you tell your boss or client that their web content has issues, they will want to know what kind of issues you’re talking about and why they are issues in the first place.
Knowing the answer to the question, “How do you know if your content is any good?” may not be easy. But it’s important if you want to:
- Retain your audience
- Understand how your site measures up against the competition
- Know where your content needs improvement
In order to diagnose problematic content you should analyze it periodically (at least every six months) and measure it against specific content qualities. Those qualities are:
- Usefulness and relevance
- Clarity and accuracy
- Completeness (of sentences, thought, ideas, and logic)
- Influence and engagement
- Findability (SEO)
- Branding consistency
- Intended audience
- Consistency with business priorities
Maintaining your content
Content must be maintained to be successful, and that takes a lot of hard work! However content problems arise precisely because owners don’t take the time to do maintenance.
In fact if you haven’t performed a content analysis of your website in the last six months, chances are high that there are content issues that need fixing. Some of those issues include:
- ROT (Redundant, Outdated or Trivial content)
- Broken links
- Missing meta descriptions
- Policy changes that might affect content
- Inconsistency with branding style
- Weak calls to action
The process of content analysis
To do a content analysis of your site, start with a content inventory to figure out what your web content currently looks like. The easiest way to do this is to use a simple spreadsheet that looks like this:
Go through every single page on your website and record what you find using the above format. Be sure to make careful notes and to add more columns as needed.
Keep in mind too that content is not only text but also video, photo images, audio, infographics and everything else that lives in your website. (For tips on creating more informative content audits, take a look at this article by Ahava Leibtag.)
Once you have performed your content inventory, you’ll have all the information you need to manage your site accordingly.
Unfortunately, when your main focus is to consistently create content that engages your audience, it is an enormous task to go back and evaluate what was created in the past to ensure that it is still relevant to your audience.
But as Arnie Kuenn says in his book, Accelerate, “Responsible content delivery includes dedicated oversight.” It is very important to have high content quality on your website, not only to optimize user experience but also to ensure that your brand is consistently held in high regard.
The last thing you want is for your credibility to be undermined simply because a user came across a broken link on your site. So if it means hiring someone to perform content maintenance, or having to take the time to do it yourself, make sure that your site receives dedicated oversight.
Of all the things that will impact user experience on your website, content is the most important factor. Make sure that it is always updated, organized, and relevant. Yes, it’s a lot of hard work, and the more content you generate the more content you will need to maintain. But the quality of your content is not something that you want to compromise.
Over to you: How much effort will you make to maintain your web content this year?