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How to Develop Website Content Evaluation Plan

Realistically, content evaluation isn’t a top priority for website owners. Finding the time to produce new content is hard enough. But we are missing a pretty big trick when we don’t.

How to Develop Website Content Evaluation Plan

How to Develop Website Content Evaluation Plan

Table of contents

Good Evaluation looks a bit like this
Design and Implement a Content Evaluation Plan
Evaluation plan checklist

Here are just a few reasons to evaluate content:

  • ensure content is continuing to meet user needs
  • ensure it is still meeting business goals
  • identify and deal with outdated and erroneous content (before it damages the user experience and your reputation)
  • identify unsustainable content (and deal with it)
  • increase ROI on existing content
  • learn what is and isn’t working and stop repeating mistakes with new content
  • identify content ready to remove and/or archive

Good Evaluation looks a bit like this

Regardless of the site, type of content, audience, and scale – there are common principles for good content evaluation:

  • design a plan so it actually happens (ideally before launch)
  • know what success looks like in advance with benchmarks to compare with
  • regularly evaluate
  • focus on actionable insights
  • assign ownership/responsibility for performing any evaluation
  • communicate evaluation insights
  • have the people and time to act on insights
  • be selective – better to focus on a few aspects to evaluate than trying to look at everything
  • gather insight from a range of inputs such as usability testing, audits, and web analytics

Design and Implement a Content Evaluation Plan

Starting with a simple plan with some basic details is all you need.

Be clear about the communication goals of your site to design a few meaningful and relevant KPIs to evaluate if your content is helping to achieve them.

A communication goal could be: ‘Build awareness of our services with prospective customers’, or ‘Build our credibility in subject area X’.

The table includes some popular and insightful KPIs to consider using when measuring the success of your content:

KPI: All pages have an engaged owner [A governance metric]
Why measure this?: Content without a responsible owner is at risk of becoming outdated
Eval method: Update and review content inventory for gaps
Freq: Quarterly
Responsible: Senior editor
Actions: Assign ownership or remove the content.

KPI: All pages have been reviewed within their review date [A governance metric]
Why measure this?: Pages that haven’t been reviewed are at risk of being out of date or irrelevant
Eval method: CMS report to filter all pages past their review date
Freq: Monthly
Responsible: Senior editor
Actions: Instruct owners to review their content ASAP or it will be removed

KPI: Each blog post has over X new visitors per month [A consumption metric that could be adjusted for any area of a site]
Why measure this?: Consumption metrics like this are quite basic and don’t tell the whole story, but they do give an idea of what users are interested in. Unpopular content needs attention
Eval method: Google Analytics report
Freq: Monthly
Responsible: Senior editor
Actions: Re-promote older blogs OR remove or update old blogs that have lost relevance

KPI: All support pages are rated helpful or very helpful by users [An engagement metric that could be adjusted for a star scoring or a thumbs up /down method]
Why measure this?: Metrics from direct user feedback are powerful indicators of success (or not)
Eval method: CMS report for user ratings on all support section pages
Freq: Monthly / Quarterly
Responsible: Senior editor / page owners
Actions: Review struggling pages and update or remove

KPI: X% of new visitors to our dedicated landing pages are subscribing to the email newsletter [A conversion metric that could be adjusted to measure any desired user action – download a PDF guide, submit an inquiry, sign up…]
Why measure this?: Understand what content is or isn’t driving desired actions for your users.
Eval method: Google Analytics reports with configured conversion goals
Freq: Monthly / Quarterly
Responsible: Senior editor / page owners
Actions: Review poorly performing content and update or remove.

Evaluation plan checklist

When you are designing your evaluation plan ask yourselves:

  • Are the KPIs SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound)?
  • Have we benchmarked the KPIs so we can measure improvement?
  • Will the insights be actionable?
  • Is the method configured? It may require some technical skill to set up the first time.
  • Is the person responsible aware, skilled, and resourced to perform their role?
  • Who is going to see the evaluation? What format is appropriate?
  • Do we have enough time to evaluate properly and consider what it means?

“If you’re making a case for budget next year for a new website, consider this. Content is a commitment. You wouldn’t buy a car unless you had plans to maintain it. Same thing goes for content. Consider additional costs to produce fresh content, and to maintain it. How many people are needed on a daily basis? A website is never as simple as a single line item in a project plan or a marketing budget so make sure you can maintain a commitment to content so that new website isn’t a wasteful investment.” – MARGOT BLOOMSTEIN, Principal of Appropriate, Inc.

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