Things change quickly on the Internet. Your website may have been perfectly optimized for a great user experience and SEO when you created it, but we’re guessing a lot has transpired since then (even if it doesn’t seem like it).
Do you want to make the most out of your website — increase your conversion rate, improve your SEO, and have the most engaging content? Because to do so you’ll need to audit your site on a regular basis.
In this post, we’re covering ways you can perform a review of your site so you know what’s working and what needs improvement.
How to Perform a Website Audit
Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?
In order to successfully audit your site, you need to know three things:
- What a website audit entails.
- Who your ideal audience is.
- What your goals are.
The first because, well, how can you perform an audit without knowing what it is? And the second because your site should be designed with your ideal audience in mind. Any improvements you make to your site based on your audit should make life easier for them, not harder. Finally, you need to have identified your website goals. The improvements you make to your site should support your goals (e.g. – increase conversions by 5% month over month.)
Many people and online resources will tell you that a website audit has everything to do with SEO. While that is a large part of it, your site is more than just an SEO machine and we have to look at the bigger picture.
We appreciate BluLeadz’s definition of a website audit. They say that “a good website audit takes into account all the factors that can influence your website’s success: From your perspective, your customer’s, and Google’s.” Considering Google held 88.47 percent of the search engine market as of 2019, their perspective and opinion of your site is absolutely crucial to your success. Your customers’ perspective is essential, so part of your audit will revolve around reviewing the user experience of your website. And of course, your perspective is vital. Who knows your goals and motivations better than yourself? Now is the time to make sure your website is aligned to support them.
Website Review and Audit Tools
It’s difficult to determine where you should begin working on your site if you don’t have a solid understanding of how it’s currently performing. It’s best to first perform your audit and then plan your improvements based on the results.
A good thing to do at the beginning of every website audit is use a tool built for that specific purpose. You can find both free and paid website audit tools by doing a quick Internet search. Many free tools require that you provide an email address in exchange for their services (it’s called lead generation), or you can pay for a tool to provide a more in-depth review of your site.
HubSpot created a popular tool, Website Grader, that provides information on your site’s performance, mobile-friendliness, security, SEO, and more. Check out Domain.com’s grade below.
What isn’t pictured here is the plethora of information you’ll receive by starting your website audit with this beginner-friendly tool. You can use the insights from the audit to hone in on the areas where your site needs the most or immediate work. In fact, the last section, titled “What Should I Do Next?” lays it out for you.
Google’s Site Audit Tools
Google offers multiple tools to help you review and understand your website. Here are three of their resources that can best assist you with your audit.
The name, “PageSpeed Insights,” is pretty telling isn’t it? It’s a tool that “reports on the performance of a page on both mobile and desktop devices, and provides suggestions on how that page may be improved.”
Insights ranks your webpages using a numeric grade — 90+ is a fast page, 50-90 is middling, and anything below 50 is without a doubt a slow webpage.
Note that this tool only reviews the webpage URL that you supply, not your entire website at once. Depending on the size and complexity of your site, it may not be feasible to enter the unique URL for each and every one of your webpages.
Maximize the efficacy of this tool by identifying the most important pages on your site and reviewing those first. You can figure out what pages are most important and receive the most traffic by using heatmapping tools, or by utilizing the next Google tool in this list.
Now, some of you might be wondering why we’re focusing on this tool since it provides in-depth information on your site visitors’ behavior. But think about it: Your site visitors’ behavior, in large part, correlates to the quality and efficacy of your website and its content.
Have a slow loading site? You’re going to see some big bounce rates and small dwell times. People won’t hang around waiting for the page to load; instead, they’ll leave and find another faster loading website that suits their needs.
Google Analytics helps you identify your most popular and well-trafficked landing pages. These could be the pages that people are landing on from search results, other sites, etc. most often. Consider running these pages through the PageSpeed Insights tool to make them as good as can be before moving on to less trafficked pages.
Google Search Console
Once upon a time, Google Search Console was known as Google Webmaster Tools. We like the newer name, because it speaks to this tool’s purpose: to help you “…monitor, maintain, and troubleshoot your site’s presence in Google Search results.”
If you have a website, you can benefit from Search Console. It’ll tell you things like:
- How often your site appears in Google search results.
- What terms and queries people search by that lead to your site in the results.
- Indicate any issues you may be experiencing with indexing.
- And more!
Google provides instruction on getting started with Search Console here. The information and insights you gather from this tool will be instrumental in improving your website’s SEO and overall success.
Questions to Ask During a Website Audit
Going into things blindly isn’t a great plan. This is especially true for your website audit.
Before spending a lot of time with the resources we mentioned in the last section, make sure you know what questions they’re supposed to be helping you answer.
Auditing Your Website for the User Experience
Your website’s user experience is integral to its success.
When you create a user-friendly website, you’re really inviting those users to stay longer, interact more, and hopefully, convert (that just means they take the action you want for them to take — purchase, sign up for email, etc.) on your site.
To audit your site for user experience, ask yourself the questions below. (Bonus: Many of the improvements you’ll end up making for user experience will directly improve your SEO!)
- Do I know my target audience?
- Are my CTAs (call-to-actions) and content geared toward my audience?
- Good CTAs are effective. They are clear and deliberate in telling someone what action to take.
- Is my marketing funnel optimized for these users?
- Is my site’s load time too slow or experiencing any issues? (If so, it could mean the answer to the following question is “Yes.”)
- Are my site visitors bouncing?
- Follow up by looking into their dwell time.
- Is my site mobile responsive?
- Does your site navigation make sense?
- Once someone lands on your site, will they be able to easily find what they’re looking for and move around?
- Here’s an (admittedly extreme) example of a site with terrible navigation.
- Is your website design up to par?
- If your site looks like it walked straight out of the 90s then you’re in trouble.
- Do you have a lot of broken links?
- It’s a bad look, and your visitors won’t think of your site as reliable.
- Is your contact information easy to find?
- We recommend making it available on every page, even if at the footer.
- Do you have any intrusive pop-up ads or is your site cluttered in ads?
- Use a browser in incognito or private mode to get a sense of the ad experience for your visitors.
Audit Your Website for Technical Issues
A technical audit helps get down to the nuts and bolts of your website: Are the systems and technologies working, or are they not?
- Is my website secure?
- SSL is integral to the security of the information exchanged on your site.
- Without SSL, information passed from an end-user (site visitor) to unsecure sites (like during a purchase or email sign up) and vice versa isn’t encrypted. This means it can be intercepted by lots of bad actors out there on the Internet.
- Secure websites are favored by Google in search results.
- Browsers display whether a site is secure or not, and that can make all the difference in a visitor’s trust (remember, they’re your potential customers.)
- Below are examples of sites with and without SSL.
- SSL is integral to the security of the information exchanged on your site.
- Is your personal information protected from the Internet’s prying eyes with Domain Privacy + Protection?
- Keep your site safe from both hackers and human error.
- How does your site display across the most popular browsers?
- Test your site across all the major browsers so there are no surprises or bad experiences for your visitors. Make any necessary changes to improve how your site renders on these browsers.
- Don’t forget to test the mobile versions of these browsers!
- Are you using a CMS (content management system) like WordPress?
- If yes, are you using the most up-to-date and secure version?
- Audit any plugins to make sure they’re running the newest versions and don’t pose security issues. Remove any no longer needed or used.
- Is your site backed up?
- Before making any big changes to your site, you should create a backup. Wouldn’t it be terrible if something went wrong while making updates to your site? Without a backup created of your site, that can equal lots of heartache, time, and lost revenue.
Audit Your Website for SEO.
An SEO audit helps you optimize your website so that it performs well and ranks higher in SERPs, search engine result pages.
- Do you have a sitemap created so that Google and other search engines can easily crawl and index your site?
- Is your robots.txt file accurate?
- Are all the pages on your site optimized according to the various SEO ranking factors?
- Moz provides a run-down of different On-Page SEO ranking factors here.
- Are you using appropriate and relevant SEO keywords across your site and content?
- Do all your pages have title tags and meta descriptions?
- Title tags and meta descriptions are HTML elements that appear in the header on a web page. When a page shows as a search result, its title tag and meta description normally display right along with it on the SERP (search engine results page.) This is important because it can influence whether someone clicks through to your site from the SERPs.
- Is your website accessible?
- Do your images have alt text?
- Do you have any broken or misdirected links?
- Domain.com’s resident SEO expert, Mike, thinks SEO Minion, a free 3rd party SEO tool, is good for checking broken links. Please note, this is not a Domain.com product or resource.
- How many backlinks do you have?
- Backlinks are links created when one website links to another. You may also hear them referred to as “inbound links.”
- Are they quality backlinks?
- Moz created Link Explorer, a free tool to help you identify your backlinks and provide other link metrics, but it does require that you sign up for a free Moz account.
- SEOquake is another 3rd party tool (free plugin) that offers great insights into your SEO.
- Is your URL structure optimized?
- URL structure matters to both search engines and the people visiting your site.
- Here’s Search Engine Journal’s guide to an SEO-friendly URL structure.
Wrapping up Your Website Audit
Auditing your website can seem overwhelming at first. If that’s the case, break it out into smaller sections and complete them one by one. It could take a few days or a few weeks, but either way, audits are necessary for the success of your site.
You should plan on auditing your website at least a couple of times each year. For more complex websites, consider auditing them more frequently.
Reviewing and auditing your site will give you a leg up with search engines, your customers, and your competitors.
Did you have any other tips or recommendations for auditing sites? Let us know in the comments!