Just as the new year ushers in new calendars, new budgets, personal resolutions, and health and fitness goals, it’s also a good time to jumpstart (or start) your website content maintenance plan.
As content strategy experts remind us, good Web content is a process (not a product) that needs constant care and feeding. It won’t take care of itself. As soon as content is created and published, it’s time to start maintaining. And the best way to do that is by creating a rolling schedule to stay on top of the constantly evolving organism that is your website.
Developing a Content Review Process
Maintaining your website content should, ideally, be part of your overall content strategy and governance plan for all online content, across all channels. For the purposes of this post, we’ll focus on website content in particular – the foundation of all your online messaging.
We recommend establishing a Web editorial calendar as part of your governance plan, for many purposes, not the least of which is the establishing of a content review schedule. Use the calendar to identify when sections of content will be updated and by whom.
Getting Started: Inventory & Audit
It’s a good idea to start with a content inventory and audit if you haven’t done this recently. Like the first step in cleaning out your closet, a content inventory can help you discover exactly what’s on your site. Digging into the audit will help determine what stays, what goes, and what’s no longer useful.
A content inventory is a spreadsheet listing all the unique pages on your site. It can be created manually or using a Web tool that crawls your site for you, such as Blaze, Xenu’s Link Sleuth, Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool, and PowerMapper’s SortSite. The content audit comes next. It’s the qualitative examination of the inventoried pages to assess their value. It takes time – no robot can help with this. But it produces invaluable information about what’s out there, helping identify redundant and outdated content along with any gaps on your site.
The document resulting from the inventory and audit can then be used to maintain and govern your site going forward. Add columns for Date Last Reviewed, Next Review Date, Reviewed By, Notes, and whatever else you want to track. Call it your Content Governance Plan, and you’re good to go!
How Often Should Content Be Reviewed and Updated?
This common question is a little bit like asking how often closets should be cleaned. And, of course, the answer is “it all depends” – on what type of closet it is, who’s looking in there, and how effective you want it to be in holding and organizing important items (information). Triggers for review might include launches of new services, marketing campaigns that will link back to your site, external events that impact your content (such as seasonal occurrences, holidays, and hot news topics). These help you forecast when the related content will most likely be viewed and should therefore be reviewed and refreshed.
For other non-time-sensitive content, consult with content stakeholders on how often they think their content should be reviewed and updated for accuracy. As a minimum, we recommend starting with an annual review, scheduled with key stakeholders and subject matter experts well in advance.
Don’t forget that fresh content is always a search engine plus – another good reason for reviewing and updating pages regularly.
Who Should Review Content?
Again, this all depends – on how your website is organized and managed and who the contributors are, which is a topic for another blog post. It’s a good idea to meet with key contributors periodically to talk about their content needs, as a minimum. An editorial calendar can help you think ahead and schedule reviews with the appropriate people in your organization.
We also suggest appointing a Web editor-in-chief to, among other things, oversee content review and own the Content Governance Plan. This person’s responsibilities depend on the scale of the website and may include overseeing a team of editors and writers with specific maintenance responsibilities. The editor-in-chief also maintains editorial standards and consistency across the site.
It’s never too late to get started cleaning up your content, but the longer you put it off, the bigger and harder the project will be. Plus, by cleaning out your content closets now, you’ll start reaping the many rewards of a well-organized, refreshed site:
- Improved SEO
- Easier navigation (by removing clutter)
- Happier stakeholders and site visitors
- A more effective website that serves all audiences better
If you need help with any part of the content review process – inventorying, analyzing, writing, or rewriting – the content team at Geonetric can help. If you are a Geonetric client, talk with your Client Advisor today to learn more.