As your website grows, it gets harder to keep track of all the pieces of content you’ve produced over the years. Caught up in day-to-day operations, there isn’t always time to step back and take stock of the bigger picture.
However, from time to time, it’s important to take a web content inventory. A content inventory is a dataset of all the assets in your content portfolio. Usually organized using spreadsheet software such as Google Sheets or Excel, content inventories list web apps, blog posts, landing pages, forms, and any other piece of content users interact with on your website.
Content inventories serve a variety of purposes. Most importantly, they:
- Serve as references when migrating or restructuring websites.
- List out and help visualize all the content you have.
- Provide information for web content audits.
- Are sometimes legally required of businesses.
Here are five pointers to keep in mind when conducting a website content inventory.
1. Approach your web content inventory with a goal in mind.
Identify specific goals when inventorying your content. For instance, do you simply want to organize and keep track of your pieces, or are you looking to perform a content audit?
In a content audit, search engine optimization (SEO) professionals and marketing strategists analyze a website to gauge the performance of content pieces and make decisions about future content creation. During this process, it’s helpful to:
- Define specific goals for website content.
- Categorize or tag your web content pieces.
- Decide which pieces of content help the most in achieving your goals.
- Consider whether certain pages or content pieces need to be revised or even removed.
Deciding on goals will ultimately help you create the most efficient and effective web content inventory template.
2. Choose relevant information for your content inventory.
There's lots of data available on webpages—it's up to you to decide what's relevant.
Think about how you plan on using the information. Are you trying to figure out whether longer pieces of content receive more pageviews? Wondering whether page performance or content effectiveness is equally balanced across different tags and topics?
Choosing relevant data for your website’s content inventory spreadsheet makes it easier to glean insights about how your website is performing. The most common fields in a web content inventory template include:
- Date published
- Links to other pages
- Meta description
- Author/Associated People
- Content type
- Additional custom tags if needed
3. Use a content inventory tool.
Website content inventory tools are software that scan your website, catalog pages, and assemble a generally exportable spreadsheet of findings.
Some content inventory tools are free to use up to several hundred URLs, but require paid subscriptions beyond that point. In general, using content inventory tools instead of assigning staff will help you save time and money when completing the arduous cataloging process.
Among the most popular inventory software tools is Screaming Frog's SEO Spider.
Screaming Frog's SEO Spider quickly crawls any given website and produces a comprehensive report that includes meta data, inbound and outbound links, and the presence of duplicate content. It even pulls more granular information like the character count for each page's titles and headings. With both free and paid versions available, Screaming Frog is ideal for both big and small websites.
4. Use metrics from analytics tools.
Beyond using content inventory software, don’t forget to track user engagement data with tools such as Google Analytics.
Your inventory should include data such as:
- Length of stay
- Bounce rate
- Click rates
- Completion of goals (surveys, sales)
5. Make it a habit to conduct regular content inventories.
Content inventories aren't one-and-done events. They’re a regular part of implementing successful content strategies over time.
Experts suggest performing a content inventory every 3 to 6 months. To be cost-efficient, you can choose to inventory and audit separate parts of your content library.
For instance, perhaps you run a niche blog that organizes its posts into five categories. If your site has a tremendous amount of content, it may be overwhelming trying to inventory all of it in one go. In such a scenario, it would be reasonable to conduct smaller content audits based on post category. Just be sure to look at the big picture after doing so, to see how each plays into your larger, overarching content strategy.
There are two questions at the forefront of every content marketers' mind:
- Does your content strategy produce ROI for your business?
- Why or why not?
Creating a website content inventory is a crucial step toward optimizing your marketing strategy and content goals. Before deciding on the next best step for your content, it’s important to take stock of what you already have and determine what works and what doesn’t.
Like cleaning out an old closet, creating a content inventory is an exciting process of discovering things you might have forgotten about. Many content strategists and creators discover new connections and patterns during the process, which lets them make the best strategic decisions moving forward.
This article was written by Compose.ly writer Jensen Oness.