A simple scoring system for content audits

3 minute read

When UK.gov revamped their website, they audited every single piece of content on the site.Their goal was a simpler website that only addressed topics that only the government could address. So they were ruthless, ditching 92,000 pages (and only keeping 45,000) by the end of the project.

And with this thorough, audit-everything-and-leave-out-nothing approach, they saved upwards of 50 million pounds (that’s about 75 million dollars). Plus, they’ve increased user engagement and, I’m sure, reduced the time they spend updating content.

Which is why I think we can take a lesson from them.You see, far too often we settle for spot audits of large websites. There’s just too much content to sift through. So we fix things as they come up. And maybe we even identify better ways of doing things moving forward.

But our websites are still full of old, outdated, inaccurate, incorrectly formatted, untagged, and broken content.And the only way to fix it? A real, in-depth, full-site content audit.

Of course, that can be daunting if you, like Gov.uk, have upwards of 150,000 pages.But it can also radically change your business, your company’s perception, your team’s workload, and, yes, the money you spend.

So, today I’d like to give you a starting point for doing a full-site content audit. Because it’s vital, especially for large sites with multiple auditors, to keep people on the same page, set your priorities, and start things off with a clear plan of action.

Without further ado, then, four steps to creating a content audit scoring system that will keep your team on the same page:

1. Identify your priorities and pain points.

A spot audit by your lead Content Strategist and/or interviews with the people in the trenches creating and maintaining site content can give you a great starting point for your full content audit.

During the spot audit and interviews, identify common trouble spots (Are there a lot of accuracy issues? Formatting problems? Organization issues? Content tagging issues?) and assign them each a priority.

For example:  

Common Content Issue

Priority (Scale of 1 – 3)


  1. Accuracy issues in support content - Accuracy issues hurt our credibility and have been proven to lose us business.
  2. Content not tagged, and thus, not showing up in search. - When content doesn't show up in search, it raises our account executive's call volume, costing the company time and money.
  3. Inconsistent formatting - Consistency helps give us credibility and increase customer goodwill. Inconsistency isn't costing us as much as our other issues but should be addressed when possible.

2. Give clear guidelines for evaluation.

Once you know what you are auditing the content for, it’s important to be detailed and clear about how to audit. This is particularly important if you have multiple auditors. Because simply asking “Is it accurate?” doesn’t always give you a sense of the scale of the problem…and a page with an incorrect price might be costing you more than a page with the wrong file name in the downloads area.I like to give auditors a series of simple questions that leave very little room for interpretation.

For example: Tagging Score

Is content tagged?

Is content tagged accurately?

Score (1 point for each yes):

Depending on your business goals and the issues your customers are encountering, content can then be prioritized based on its score. If your customers are complaining about not being able to find content, for example, a 0 score in the chart above might be your highest priority. If you’re struggling more with customers finding the wrong content, a 1 score would be at the top of your list.

3. As the audit identifies priority content, get it into the queue.

Each piece of content that earns a less than perfect audit score then goes into your content queue for fixing, tagging, re-writing, deleting, or re-organizing. The queue’s priority should be based on the priorities you’ve already identified (in the example case above: accuracy, tagging, then formatting), as well as the sub-priorities within each category (in the case of tagging, for example, you’ll want to clearly prioritize whether content with a score of 1 or a score of 0 should hit the queue first).

And as you’re prioritizing content during and after the audit, don’t forget to identify where new content falls on the list. Because even while you’re in cleanup mode, requests for new content are probably going to come up.So, it’s important to ask yourself up front:

  • Are you going to deal with pressing accuracy issues first, new content second, and tagging third?
  • Does some new content take first priority, even over accuracy?
  • Or do you have separate teams dealing with existing content vs. new content?

The more clear you can be about priorities up front, the better buy-in your can get from stakeholders, clients, or management as needed, the less confusion you’ll have from content creators and managers, and the more smoothly your process will run.

4. Leave space for notes, but let the scores lead the way.

Finally, even if your scoring system is crystal clear, there’s always the chance an auditor will find a unique or confusing content issue—so make sure to leave room for comments, questions, and pushing unexpected things up in the queue.

In summary…

Full-scale content audits are important…and there are ways to simplify the process. The most important thing is to make sure you create as much clarity up front as possible and that every auditor is working with the same tools and goals.


Content Audit Spreadsheet

A template to audit your content inventory to identify gaps and gain insights around your content.

About the author

Gigi Griffis

Gigi is a content strategist and web writer specializing in travel, technology, education, non-profit, and wellness content. In 2010, she quit her agency job and started Content for Do-Gooders, where she helps clients solve messy content problems around the world. You should follow her on Twitter.

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