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Rethinking the content inventory: five keys for a strong inventory

Last updated June 4th, 2018. First published

Key Points

  • Your list of content is a starting point, not an ending point, for your content inventory
  • Use RULES to bucket your content
  • ENHANCE your inventory with more information as you explore your site and uncover business Qs
Related resource
Rethinking the Content Inventory | Use this report if you are inventorying your site(s)

Most inventories are quite weak, for example by dividing up a list of content simply asking stakeholders to review the content. 

Don't blindly ask a group of stakeholders to review their content line by line

This approach is weak for many reasons: 

The lack of a business first approach is the most problematic. Consider the case where Jane is responsible for the press releases (less important to the business) and Mary is responsible for the product pages (more important to the business). Furthermore let's assume that Jane is more concerned about quality than Mary. If we just divide up the inventory spreadsheet, then Jane may suggest all sorts of improvements whereas Mary may simply state that the content is all good as is. From a business perspective, you want to pay special attention to the product pages. But looking narrowly may not address this issue.  ​

Let's not dwell on the weak approach. Here's a strong approach: 

1. List as STARTING point

Instead of considering the list of content AS the inventory, we should look at the list of content simply as a starting point:

2. ENHANCE the information 

Whatever tool you use, for a strong invnentory you will probable need to enhance the information for two reasons: 

In the first case, we are converting information (such as the text manipulation to get the folder) and in the second we are merging new sources of information. 

Note that one useful method of enhancing the information can be to scrape information off pages if you can't get the information directly. But in the end the goal is to enhance your inventory with information that will help you make decisions. 

3. BUCKET content

In the end we need to: 

To that end, we need to bucket up similar content together to make decisions. If we don't have the information we need to make the decision, then we need to circle back to the enhance step. We should be striving for RULES to bucket the content. For instance, everything in the blog-posts "folder" is a blog post. We may then want to divide up the content some more, to put blog posts with fewer than 100 page views in one bucket and the others in another. Then we define dispositions (for instance, perhaps we delete the low-volume blog posts and keep the ones that performed better). 

4. SAMPLE content

An extremely effective technique that anyone can do today (assuming you have a list of your content) is to randomly sample your content. The advantages of this are: 

Some techniques to random sampling: 

5. Generate reports and EXECUTE

We want to both express what we are doing for stakeholders that are not deeply involved and also use the inventory to execute on strong content changes. The types of reports we may wish to use include: 

For example, here is a graph David Hobbs Consulting used with a client to track their manual migration effort (automated portions were not in this graph) — the team watched this carefully during the migration process for a redesign: 

Rethinking the Content Inventory Use this report if you are inventorying your site(s)