Before you dive into creating new website pages or blog posts or other creative content pieces, you need to know what you already have. Why? For one, you may find out you don’t have to work from scratch to create something fresh, you may be able to update an older piece of content that used to work well and can be revived. Also, finding out what you currently have can show whether or not you’re being redundant by creating more of the same content, or being smart by filling the gaps with new content.
Every hospital needs to conduct a content audit to examine the state of their existing content and identify areas for opportunity. How often you perform this audit is up to you, but we recommend at least once every few years. The idea of conducting a content audit may seem daunting, but follow the below checklist and you’ll be done in no time (or we’re happy to help.)
- Know why you’re doing this audit in the first place. What’s the purpose or goal? For hospitals, the purpose of a content audit should be to establish a baseline understanding of your current content and digital platforms. You also want to identify strengths and weaknesses of the existing content assets, messaging and tone so they can be fixed. You can identify untapped opportunities for future content (content gaps). Lastly, a content audit can help inform the upcoming content strategy (you shouldn’t create new content without knowing what already exists.)
- Set up your content audit template. If you don’t have a template already, you’ll want to create a simple one in Microsoft Excel. It’s not hard, just make sure the chart contains areas for each URL that you’re auditing, plus certain categories like the buying stage, title and metas, content quality, messaging quality and additional notes you want to make about the page. See the image below for an example of what our content audit template looks like.
- Start at the top of your navigation and work your way down to internal pages. Or, if you’d rather base your content audit on data, start with the highest trafficked pages and work your way down to the lowest trafficked ones. Focus on one page at a time and examine each of the visual elements on the page – the actual text, the headers and subheads, the images, internal linking, calls-to-action, forms, videos, etc. Anything you can see on the front end of the page should be considered in your content audit because technically, it’s all content.
- Determine the buying stage of the page. Chances are if the page is a higher level navigation page or it’s highly educational and informative (not salesy or promotional), it’s probably a Research page. Your actual services pages may be more Research-based because people may be just beginning to research a condition or treatment method on those pages. However, when people begin reading specific information about your hospital, like your awards, physicians or patient stories, they may be further along in the funnel and are more likely “considering” your facility for the medical treatment they need. Finally, your Contact pages and other end-of-the-funnel pages are most likely the ones with forms or calls-to-action that lead directly to your facility.
- Give each page a content grade (use our handy grading scale below.) Now that you’ve had a look at the page and you know where it fits in the buying cycle, you want to jot down a grade for the quality of the content on that page. Was the content a proper length and included internal linking, but not very patient-centric or helpful? Was the page text talking about something completely different than the page title? Should there be more visuals on the page? Consider items like this when using the grading scale below. (Note: proper content length is a minimum of 250 words per page.)
- Dig a little deeper. At this point you should know the state of your website content, but how do you know if it’s working or not working unless you dig a little deeper? A page with seemingly poor content could be performing well, and in the same way a page with seemingly good content could be performing poorly. Look at your pages in Google Analytics. Does anything stand out? Does a page with a sufficient amount of content but no CTA or internal linking have a high bounce rate? Does a page with a low amount of content have low time-on-page? These insights can help you uncover more about your content and its potential improvements so that your content strategy can be more concise, tactical and powerful in the long run.
- Next, give the page a messaging grade. Follow the same concept as the content grade, but instead look at the actual messaging. Is it “on brand” or completely off? Does it use a tagline from an old marketing campaign that you no longer use? Do your hospital’s popular taglines and mottos appear in the content to give readers a consistent brand feel across your website? Most of all – does the page’s messaging align with your website’s goals? Use the below messaging quality grading scale to help.
- Keep track of the assets you find as you go. Continue auditing individual pages and entering the proper information in your Excel sheet. As you go along, keep track of the type of assets you’re finding. For example, do you have an About Us page, History page and Awards page? Mark them down. What about all the Services pages that you need, along with corresponding disease and treatment information? Do you have any type of patient story, testimonial or case study? Keeping track of the types of content you have on your website can unleash a clear visual of what’s missing and show your areas of opportunity.
- Sort your pages by Content or Messaging grade – whichever is more important to you. By sorting based on grade, you can clearly see all of the URLs on your site that need the most attention (C’s, D’s and F’s) and the other pages (A’s and B’s) that aren’t so urgent. You can also see how many grades you have for each, giving you a clearer picture of the state of your website content. Do you have a ton of C’s and D’s? Your website may need more TLC than you initially thought. But if you have plenty of B’s and A’s, you’re already on the right track and it might just need some sprucing up.
- Sort your pages by Buying Stage. Similarly, it’s important to see if your website content is evenly distributed among buying stages or if you have a high number of Research pages with not enough Consider or Commit pages. Or maybe you find your don’t have enough Research pages. Either way, sorting by Buying Stage can help you see your areas of opportunity for creating more pieces of content that can meet patients at every stage of the funnel and guide them through.
- Make a plan. Whether you want to fix the existing pages first before creating some of your areas of opportunity, or maybe you want to do a mixture of both, it’s completely up to you. One tip to remember is this: don’t ignore the problems with your existing content, no matter how time-consuming or dreadful they may seem. Creating new content is not going to fix any problems with your existing website, and it’s not even going to cover them up. Get your website back to it’s original state of glory and all content you create in the future will have a better effect because all of it works together.
Hopefully you found this content audit checklist for hospitals to be helpful! If you need additional help navigating the complex world of digital content and search engine optimization, contact Fathom today.
Learn more about the importance of content strategies in our upcoming webinar – Social Repair, Content Replace: How Fathom Helped Safelite AutoGlass Create a Documented Content & Social Strategy to Shatter Their Goals. Register now.