Choosing your audit criteria

The criteria you choose should depend on why you’re doing your audit and the nature of your content.

On this page...

What criteria to audit for

I’ve listed some example criteria below. It’s a long list and covers most aspects of content, but it’s not exhaustive. I’ve also included relevant metrics that provide supporting evidence. You may have different metrics in your organisation, and should use those if they are relevant.

To choose your criteria, think about what you need to know in order to decide whether to keep, delete, or improve a piece of content (and what you need to know to actually improve it too). The more you add, the more actionable your to-do list will be when it comes to improving content. It will also help you make decisions about what to delete, keep, and improve later on.

You can create your own criteria. If you go down this route, try phrasing it as a question, or providing a tangible way of measuring against it. Think about how objective it is too. For example ‘Is the content interesting?’ is a very subjective question. You could answer it in lots of different ways, so it’s not a great audit question. Instead, think about the criteria that indicate something is engaging, like a well-written heading, showing as well as telling, etc.  There’s always a degree of subjectivity in some questions, but try to keep it to a minimum.

You will need a way of scoring for all your criteria . I’ve suggested the straightforward options: yes, somewhat, and no. You could also use a 1 to 3 scoring system.

For some of the suggested criteria, you may want to add your own more detailed instructions to help with scoring to make the results less subjective. For example, if you have content guidelines, a style guide, a tone guide, etc., you might want to make specific reference to them in your criteria.

How many criteria you choose is up to you. I will frequently audit against most, if not all, of these criteria. If the list is looking intimidating, remember that the metrics are just a number you have to look at, not something you need to seek out. In the coming modules we’ll look at how to prime your audit with metrics.

The criteria

Strategy

  • Does it reflect your strategy? (Yes, Somewhat, No)
  • Does it work towards a business/organisation goal?* (Yes, Somewhat, No) 
  • Metric: Goal completion rate
*You might want to have separate criteria for different goals.

Usefulness

  • Will the page help the reader with something they want to find/learn/do?* (Yes, Somewhat, No)
  • Do the H1 heading, standfirst, and sub-headings feature words and ideas that match the user’s goal?* (Yes, Somewhat, No)
  • Does the page contain essential information that the organisation needs to communicate? (Yes, Somewhat, No)
  • Total events
*To answer this, you need to know the intended audience and their needs.

Accuracy

  • Is the page up to date? (Yes, Somewhat, No)
  • Is the information accurate? (Yes, Somewhat, No)
  • Are facts and claims evidenced? (Yes, Somewhat, No)
  • Do all the links still work and is the linked content appropriate? (Yes, Somewhat, No)

Clarity

  • Is there too much or too little information? (Too much, Just right, Too little)
  • Is the information in the right order? (Yes, Somewhat, No)
  • Are there typos, grammatical mistakes, etc.? (Yes, Somewhat, No)
  • Is the information structured clearly with sub-headings, paragraphs, bullets, tables, etc.? (Yes, Somewhat, No)
  • ​​Is the information in the right order? (Yes, Somewhat, No)
  • Metric: Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level and/or Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease
  • Metric: Word count
  • Metric: Header count
  • Metric: Paragraph count
  • Metric: Sentence count

Accessibility

  • Do all images have appropriate alt text? (Yes, Somewhat, No)
  • Do all videos/audio have subtitles? (Yes, Somewhat, No)
  • Is there good colour contrast? (Yes, Somewhat, No)
  • Does this page work for a screenreader? (Yes, Somewhat, No)

Readability

  • Is the link text specific? (For example: not ‘more information’, ‘click here’, ‘find out more’, ‘read more’) (Yes, Somewhat, No)
  • Are there mid-sentence links? (Yes, Somewhat, No)
  • Does it use sentence case? (‘This is a title’, not ‘This Is A Title’ or ‘THIS IS A TITLE’) (Yes, Somewhat, No)

Inclusivity

  • Is language inclusive and empowering when it comes to race, age, gender, sexuality, faith etc.? (Yes, Somewhat, No)
  • Does the content represent a wide range of people when it comes to race, age, gender, sexuality, faith etc.? (Yes, Somewhat, No)

Findability

  • Does the content have an appropriate title tag and meta description? (Yes, Somewhat, No)
  • Would someone who doesn’t know how to use this site be able to find this page from the homepage without using site search? (Yes, Somewhat, No)
  • Does this page show up on page 1 of Google’s search engine results if you search for the key search term(s)? (Yes, Somewhat, No)
  • Title tag copy
  • Title tag length
  • Meta description copy
  • Meta description length

Engagement

  • Does the H1 heading represent the page in an accurate, engaging way? (Yes, Somewhat, No)
  • Does this page show as well as tell? (Yes, Somewhat, No)
  • Are the images high quality and relevant? (Yes, Somewhat, No)
  • Does the content speak about the reader, or to them? (Yes, Somewhat, No)
  • Metric: Pageviews
  • Metric: Entrances
  • Metric: Average time on page
  • Metric: Time to read
  • Metric: Bounce rate
  • Metric: Exits

Action

  • Is there a relevant call to action or next step? (Yes, Somewhat, No)

Brand voice

  • Is the brand voice recognisable? (Yes, Somewhat, No)
  • Is the tone appropriate to the subject matter and context? (Yes, Somewhat, No)
  • Is the house style being followed? (Yes, Somewhat, No)

Before you move on...

Write a list of the audit criteria you are going to use in your audit. See section 4 in your planner.

(If you haven't made your copy yet, the planner is linked on the content audit toolkit homepage.)

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