Open it. Please. This may seem obvious, but I find that many clients are so busy that they don’t even take the time to look at their content inventory and audit. Set aside 30-60 minutes, and read the recommendations and observations. Even if this is the only thing you do with the audit, it will ensure that we’re all on the same page when it comes to the high level overview of your content.
Dig in to your content inventory. This is perhaps the most daunting part of the audit. Many clients have thousands of pages and combing through each and every one of them simply isn’t practical. But it is worth your while to take some time and look at the attached analytics. What pages perform well? What does that tell you about your current architecture and your user’s needs?
While your content strategist can see trends, you have the background and history with the content to understand it at a deeper level. And when that one person wants “their page” to be in a different place in the site architecture, you can refer back to the analytics and show them why page views don’t justify it.
Check out your site’s redirects. There are 2 types: 301 and 302. A 301 redirect is permanent—kind of like a change of address form for the post office. Any traffic that visits the old URL will be permanently re-routed to the new URL, without losing any SEO value. These are A-OK.
A 302 redirect, on the other hand, needs your attention. Don’t have any? Well done you. But if you do, you’ll want to clean these up. If a 301 redirect is a change of address form, a 302 redirect is a change of address form that has expired, aka, the post office isn’t sure where to send your mail. Using this type of temporary redirect confuses search engines and makes them have to figure out which page really has your content, and which one doesn’t. The chances that the wrong page will show up in search results are high. You’ll want to resolve these into 301 redirects right away.
While you’re at it, look at your 404 errors. You know those—the page that can’t be found. This means that the page doesn’t exist, which really stinks for a user who lands on that URL. Search engines don’t like them much, either, so resolve them ASAP. This article is a helpful tutorial on how to do just that.
Think about what you want to happen on your new website. What are your goals? How can your content support them? The content inventory tab of your audit has a column for “Action: Keep, Revise, Remove.” This column is for you. It may not be reasonable to go through this line by line, but this is a place where you can identify pages that can be combined or rewritten so they better support your goals.
When in doubt, call us! We’re here to help you with every step of the process, and we’re happy to answer your questions along the way.