By Patricia Redsicker published February 21, 2012

Content Quality: A Practical Approach to Content Analysis

“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

Perform a content analysis of your website every six months.

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  • ROT (Redundant, Outdated or Trivial content)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.)

Dedicated oversight

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.

Quick takeaway

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?

Author: Patricia Redsicker

Patricia Redsicker is a content marketing expert from Baltimore MD. As owner and senior marketing writer at WordView Editing Patricia works with healthcare organizations to develop content strategies that attract and retain customers. Her blog provides content marketing insights to aspiring bloggers and healthcare marketers. You may follow her on Twitter at @predsicker.

Other posts by Patricia Redsicker

  • http://twitter.com/relevantor Relevantor™

    Great post, Patricia. Love your point that great content is the number one factor affecting customer engagement. If your content isn’t directly relevant, then you’ll no doubt see lots of bounces and lost conversions.

    • predsicker

      Thanks Relevantor – you’re absolutely right. As Ann Handley once said, ‘content rules!’

  • http://twitter.com/davemhuffman Dave Huffman

    I recently took over the reigns for a couple of sites (inter/intranet) for a 26 service line health system. The sites are gargantuan, plus – we’re currently switching to a new CMS, which means lots of migrated and possibly lost content.  It’s a bit scary at times.

    We’re doing some QA along the way, but my plan is to do a heavy audit once a quarter until I start to come up empty handed on issues like broken links, etc. Then I might back off to every 6 months. 

    We’re also working to put workflow in place with service line and support teams that will clear the plates of the web team…which is, uh, me ;) 

    Always good stuff Patricia.  Really good.

    davemhuffman.com

    • predsicker

      Seems like you’re going to be busy for a while Dave. What is your approach to the audit? Are you using simple spread sheets like I discussed in the article or do you have a more sophisticated approach? Would love to hear more about your strategy. Let’s talk!

  • http://In-The-Flow.com Jim Campbell

    Speaking of great content. This is one of the best articles I’ve read about anything in a long time. You totally nailed it!!

    • predsicker

      Thanks so much Jim – that’s very nice to hear!

      • http://In-The-Flow.com Jim Campbell

        Content is key and misunderstood at the same time. Please stay after that and the Internet will keep getting better, in large part, because of you.

  • http://ctrl.pragma-tech.com Ramy Ghaly

    Intriguing post on content analysis! Thanks Patricia  @predsicker:disqus  

    • predsicker

      Thank you Ramy. So glad you enjoyed it!

  • http://seonetlinking.com/ SEO GescoMan

    thank you very much 

  • rob

    Perfect timing.. Currently doing a site rehal now..thanks.
    Quick question..which service do u use to c how viewers are best interacting on the page/post?
    I find the GA flow charts rather confusing
    Ideally a heat map type structure would work well. I use this for home page but 100s of posts/ pages I’m not aware this is possible
    Thanks