A Web Editor’s Good Friend: The Content Inventory

By Cathy Hodson

A content inventory is in incredibly useful tool for a web editor, helping to manage a website’s content in many ways. It is useful for logistics during a redesign, defending a page’s usefulness, and something that can help keep track of a site’s metrics and taxonomy.

What is a content inventory? Usually, it’s a spreadsheet, filled with (not necessarily in this order):

  • The URL for each page
  • The format of the item (.html, .aspx, .pdf, .docx, etc.)
  • Content owner (which author or department staffer is responsible for the page or item)
  • Last modification date, what was revised, etc.
  • Metadata – keywords, description, title, etc.
  • Access (public; members; intranet; subdomain, etc.)
  • Any distinguishing information (i.e., comments or notes)
  • Analytics
  • Path to item from a navigation standpoint
  • Taxonomy

It can get far more detailed than that, also providing information about which pages link to the item, or which items or pages the item links to; what is its current status; will it be part of something being developed; when was it created; was it for a special project or purpose? Any way someone wants to slice up the content, it can be tracked through a content inventory.

A content inventory is a great management tool on a daily basis. It can help a web editor see at a glance which areas of the website need further development (more content), and which areas might need a little pruning or organizing, as well as the current status of each piece of content.

It’s an incredible tool during a redesign – just from a logistical standpoint. In a redesign, each item can be labeled for where it stands in the structure of the current site, and then where it will be moved to within the structure of the new site. The comments area is particularly useful in that scenario – listing any name changes to sections, any pages that are going to different sections. Maybe three pages from one section will move together to the corresponding area on the new site, while two other pages from the same section will go to a different section on the new site, depending on any reorganization being done.

From an analytics standpoint, a content inventory is useful in helping to see which areas of the site are driving the most traffic. It can help foster decisions on which items should be kept, moved to a more prominent area, or archived or deleted.

A content inventory is also a very useful taxonomy tool. The classification of your content can help fuel search engine parameters, and by listing metadata in the content inventory, it is easy to see which keywords may be the most useful, and which keywords may not be as effective. By classifying a website’s content, the validation of truly useful content becomes more apparent. It can help defend against, “Why are we covering this anyway?” or help show that perhaps this isn’t something that needs to be included on the site.

The aggregation of a website’s assets is something every good web editor should have a handle on. It is not just the responsibility of a web editor to create and maintain content, but to know what that content is doing on the website (purpose), where it fits in the structure and classification (logistics, taxonomy), and how useful it is to the company’s audiences (analytics).

For more information, see:

The Content Inventory is Your Friend, Kristina Halvorson, Brain Traffic, March 2009. http://blog.braintraffic.com/2009/03/the-content-inventory-is-your-friend/

Tackling Your Content Inventory, Lacey Kruger, Connection Café, April 2010.
http://www.connectioncafe.com/posts/2010/april/tackling-content-inventory.html

How Creating a Content Inventory Can Improve Your SEO, Obaiadul Haque, Search Engine Marketing Group, March 2012
http://sem-group.net/search-engine-optimization-blog/creating-a-content-inventory-to-improve-seo/

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