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“By Any Other Name…” Benefits of a Content Audit for Your Healthcare Digital Marketing

June 4, 2015
Content Marketing, Content Strategy, Digital Marketing, Healthcare Marketing

The term “audit” evokes a lot of images and emotions – none of them good. But despite its name, a Content Audit may be the healthiest thing you can do for your healthcare digital strategy. Here are the basics on what goes into a Content Audit, what you should expect to get out of it and how it can benefit your overall marketing efforts.

Why Get a Content Audit?

Whether your Website is marketing a stand-alone hospital or a large healthcare system, a content audit can help you:

  • Find gaps in the content that your audience is looking for but isn’t available on your site
  • Get a sense of how much content you actually have as well as what’s working and what’s not
  • Improve your website user experience and informaiton architecture so that people can actually find your content
  • Discover opportunities to repurpose your content and extend the reach of your message to other channels using other media types

A content audit helps you focus your content strategy (and resources) around those topics, channels and media types that will produce the best results for your investment.

When Do You Need a Content Audit?

Anytime is a good time to take stock of your content and make sure it is serving your strategy and objectives. But having an audit is critical when you are:

  • Changing your business strategy or messaging
  • Redesigning your site
  • Launching an SEO or SEM campaign (or integrated marketing campaign)
  • Changing from one domain to another or consolidating multiple sites or domains
  • Migrating or changing content management systems

A content audit keeps you from wasting valuable time and resources on content that has NO VALUE at all to your business.

What’s in a Content Audit

A Content Audit is one of those business terms that can mean many things to many people. Each company or agency might define it a bit differently, but the goal is always to same – to take a look at your existing site and determine:

  • What’s doing well, serving your strategy?
  • What should be doing well, but isn’t (and why)?
  • What are the gaps/opportunities you are not yet leveraging?
  • Is there any dead weight?

To get these answers, you need to take a look at the content from multiple angles. Here are some typical tools used in a content audit:

  • Organized Content Inventory. This process uses a tool (called a spider) to crawl your site much like a search engine would, often finding content long forgotten. This is the baseline data you need to get started.
  • Traffic Data for ALL PAGES (Google Analytics or Omniture Site Catalyst). If you are not sharing your site’s analytics with your content auditor, you are going to be getting about ½ the value you could out of the audit. If possible, give them access to dump the data they need directly from your system – it will avoid delays from incomplete or incorrect data.
  • Editorial Review. All of the data, structure and keywords in the world won’t help you if your voice, tone and content quality doesn’t meet the expectations of your audience. A comprehensive content audit will include an editorial review that will look at the content with your personas in mind and make detailed recommendations for improving its reach and effectiveness.
  • Duplicate Content Check. A tool that crawls your site, but looks specifically for duplicate content both WITHIN your site and with OTHER sites.
  • Keyword Analysis. If you don’t already have a recent keyword audit and competitive analysis for your site, get one now. It informs many of the decisions that need to be made as part of a thorough content audit.
  • Content Structure Review. As sites grow and evolve, their pages often become less structured. Think of it like suburban sprawl. Part of a Content Audit is looking at your content, your strategic goals and your competition to find the best way to structure your site. Sometimes this will mean just a few navigational tweaks, other times a full overhaul. The longer it has been since your site launched (or your last content audit) the more likely you’ll need significant changes to your site structure.

A good content auditor will merge all the data above to get a comprehensive view of your site’s content. There are best practices to guide recommendations made from that data. But the quality of those recommendations often comes down to the auditor’s experience and industry knowledge.

What You’ll Get Out of a Content Audit

Deliverables from a Content Audit can take many forms, some of which will only make sense to your website developers. But here are some typical documents and insights you should expect:

  • Content Structure Plan. This is an at-a-glance look at your site’s structure – where each piece of content “lives” and its relationship to the rest. It’s purpose is the establish the relationships between pages and content on your site. Those relationships drive how both visitors and search engines will find and consume related content.
  • Keep/Kill Analysis of all site pages with reasoning for each. Those reasons tend to fall into several buckets, such as the content is outdated or duplicative or the page is throwing an error.
  • Priority. For items on the KEEP list, this sets a priority for revision or enhancement. Ranges vary, but the goal is to bubble up those that need IMMEDIATE revision to be of value and deprioritized content that is more or less fine AS IS.
  • Duplicate Content Action Plan. For rewrites needed due to duplicate content issues, you’ll get detailed reports on which content on which page is at issue. This will also include any external duplication issues and recommendations. Some pages on the KEEP list will have duplicate content, but still need to be maintained. Adding canonical tags to these pages tells search engines which of the duplicate pages is the main page for this content. Developers use this information to add the canonical tags to appropriate pages.
  • Redirect Action Plan. This is a mapping of pages on the KILL list to pages remaining on the site so that 301 redirects can be set up by site developers.

True content audits are comprehensive, yielding deep insights and actionable tasks. But not every audit will include everything mentioned above. Audits need to be customized to meet the needs, timelines and resources for each project. But they shouldn’t be skipped, or you risk putting those resources in all the wrong places, weakening the effectiveness of your healthcare digital marketing.

Paula Rae Forastiero

Senior Digital Strategist
Paula has spent more than 20 years in health content strategy, building products ranging from patient education websites to mobile appointment scheduling applications. She holds a Masters Degree in Healthcare Administration and Policy and has worked for companies as diverse as healthcare start-ups, iVillage/NBC and PatientPoint.

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