To ensure that your website is healthy, traffic is wealthy and the strategy is wise, you need to audit it on a regular basis. An audit is the process of examining your pages for SEO, technical and user experience issues. Essentially, you are determining what parts of your site might be broken, ineffective and outdated.
Many consider that a website audit is the same as an SEO audit. While there’s some truth to this, they are not the same. The SEO audit is only one part of page performance analysis. Other elements you need to look at include website performance, content, conversion rate, and technical specifications.
Performing a website audit regularly is important because even if there hasn’t been any obvious change in performance, it doesn’t mean that your website is reaching its full potential. There may be issues that you’re unaware of that can compromise your digital strategy if not addressed in time.
If it’s been a while since your last website audit, or you’ve never examined your site’s overall performance before, or you’re planning a change in design, or domain, this article is for you.
Why Is a Website Audit Necessary?
Before we look at why you should pay attention to auditing your site, let’s talk about some of the main benefits around it.
Search Engine Optimization
Firstly, a website audit will let you identify any poorly executed, misguided or missed SEO opportunities. These include toxic backlinks, exact-match anchor texts, keyword stuffing, etc.
Additionally, it will help you prioritize user and search engine needs correctly, so you’re always up to date on any algorithm changes. This would also ensure you don’t apply any misguided practices only to appear in the top SERPs.
Secondly, when auditing your page you won’t only be reviewing the content, but you’ll also be reviewing its overall performance. This will allow you to inspect:
- How robust is your site’s technical infrastructure and framework?
- How search engine friendly it is?
- How easy and intuitively it is for users to navigate on it?
Thirdly, auditing your website will help you re-evaluate how effective your lead generation and conversion actions have been. It will enable you to spot any overlooked conversion opportunities, indicating where to add relevant CTAs, and what elements of your landing pages need to be improved to boost conversions.
When you combine all your findings you will naturally uncover opportunities to improve your website traffic and conversion rate.
5 Assessments When Performing a Website Audit
Now, let’s discuss what you need to look into specifically so you can leverage the mentioned benefits.
1. Website Performance
When evaluating your website’s performance, you should focus on understanding how users navigate and interact with it. This involves reviewing the usability, accessibility and UX of all your pages – from your homepage to any relevant content in between.
There are various components that need to be addressed o when assessing the overall efficiency of your site. You need to ensure that the design is user friendly – i.e. fast, easy-to-navigate, accessible and secure. These are also part of Google’s Page Experience report, which was designed with the safety of its users in mind as they browse online.
Actions to take to assess your website performance include:
- Test Your Site Speed. Measure the Largest Contentful Paint (LCP). This metric will tell you how quickly the largest content elements (images, video, infographic, etc.) are fully displayed on a screen. A good LCP score is 2.5 seconds or less.
- Learn What First Impression Your Site Makes. To evaluate your site’s responsiveness and interactivity, you need to measure the First Input Delay (FID). This metric looks at the time from when a user takes an action on a page to when the browser is able to process it to provide a response. A good FID score is 100 milliseconds or less.
- Test the Visual Stability. Testing the stability of your design includes measuring the Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) on your page. This metric estimates what is the largest burst of shifts every time there’s an unexpected change in your layout. A good CLS score is 0.1 or less.
- Check How Mobile-Friendly Your Site Is. Today as much as 54.8% of the global web traffic happens on mobile devices. To ensure that your page is optimized for different screen sizes, test it with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Testing Tool.
- Make Sure Your Site Is Secure. To protect your users’ privacy and security while they’re on your site, Google encourages adopting HTTPS protocols. This means that the overall HTTP/HTTPS ratio on your site should be as low as possible.
Related: How to Use Heatmaps to Improve the UX of Your Website
Optimizing your website performance is essential for attracting and holding onto visitors, but your content is what would compeлl them to convert. Hence, you need to ensure that the information you’re sharing can successfully meet your audience’s needs and maybe even solve some of their problems.
A content audit is the process of regularly assessing and analyzing your site’s content, to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your strategy. By performing it regularly you’ll be able to quickly identify which content should be removed, improved or repurposed.
Here are a few actions to take when assessing your content:
- Check the Relevance of Topics Discussed. Review your pages to see which ones perform well and if their content remains relevant. Then decide if you should keep, update or delete it.
- Check if the Content Adheres to the Page Goal. The content on every page should reflect the purpose of its creation. For instance, a contact page has to include all the ways a user can contact you.
- Remove Low-Quality Content from Indexing. When low-quality content is indexed on Google it can result in what’s called an index bloat, where too many pages with low-value content get indexed. This can really hurt your traffic and make future content audits much more difficult to do. To prevent this, you need to de-index your low-quality pages and remove them from appearing in Google SERPs.
- Look for Content Gap Opportunities. Choose the web pages you wish to analyze. Then sort the content by buyer’s journey stage, content format or type, date of publication or latest modification, number of words, and author if you have multiple ones. Make sure to also collect and review all your metadata, and update where needed.
- Link Your Analytics Accounts. To add more depth to your data, link your Google Search Console account with your Google Analytics profile, so you can see all important metrics like: pageviews, bounce rate, average session duration, average time on page, and search queries.
Related: 8 Tips for Creating Headlines That Increase Conversions
After you have evaluated the quality of your content, you need to make sure that it is original, truthful, and authoritative, and that it will successfully reach your target audience. To achieve this you have to perform an SEO audit. This is the process of spotting issues that can prevent your site from being properly crawled and indexed on search engines.
A successful SEO audit should specify which actions need to be taken to improve your site’s organic search performance. These include:
- Reviewing Your Backlinks. Not all backlinks are the same, so you need to review your backlink profile very carefully, and remove any spammy and toxic links.
- Reviewing Internal Links. Google understands that you may not be responsible for all of your external links, but you are 100% responsible for the internal ones. So, when reviewing your internal links pay attention to: the anchor text, the image alt tag, the freshness of the content you link to, and the number of internal links you have.
- Analyzing Your Organic Traffic. Check where your visitors are coming from, including which device they’re using, and take the necessary actions to improve your site in those areas.
- Looking into On-Page SEO. Find the top 5-10 most important pages on your site, as well as the pages that rank between the 5th and 20th position in SERPs. Then evaluate the primary keywords used in the content meta description, page titles, and URLs.
- Discovering and Resolving Indexing Issues. It’s essential to check if Google can successfully crawl and index your pages. You can do this assessment by submitting your sitemap to Google and reviewing their response on potential issues.
4. Conversion Rate
After you have optimized your content and boosted your traffic numbers, you need to assess how visitors behave on your site and learn how you can convince them to take the desired action – complete a form, download a whitepaper, signup for your newsletter.
To successfully assess and optimize your conversion rate you need to understand all the ways in which users interact with your site, what actions they take and what might be preventing them from completing the goals you’ve set out for them.
Here are the key evaluating you should perform:
- Evaluate Your Traffic Sources. Different types of traffic call for different engagement measures. You need to know how many of your visitors come from searches, are directed or referred.
- Assess Your Reach and Impact. Check your new and returning visitors’ conversions rates and monitor their interactions on your site. These metrics will tell you if your audience is growing and how fast.
- Keep Track of Bounce Rate. By checking how many users leave without doing anything on your page, you will be able to better understand why they click away. Some common issues include slow loading times, low usability, poor design, the wrong type of landing page, shopping cart abandonment.
- Review Your Landing Pages. Some types of landing pages, like product detailed pages perform worse than others. If that’s the reason for a low conversion rate, then funnel visitors to other pages.
- Assess Your CTAs. The right CTAs offer one specific thing, use clear and compelling language, create urgency, are easy to spot, and guide the user to the next step of the conversion funnel.
5. Technical Evaluation
After you’re done with the four assessments mentioned above, it’s time to get a developer to perform a technical evaluation on your site. This assessment carries over from the analysis of your site’s performance, content, and SEO to the evaluation of user experience and conversion rates.
If you don’t have anyone in-house to perform a technical audit, you can also hire an outside agency. If you do, make sure to do your homework.
Here is what actions you should take:
- Inspect Your URLs. Your URLs shouldn’t be super long and stuffed with keywords. They shouldn’t contain session IDs or too many dynamic parameters. Such URLs result in low clickthrough rates because they are difficult to be indexed correctly by search engines.
- Inspect Your Metadata. A site’s metadata is more than HTML meta tags, structured data, header hierarchy, no-follow links, canonical attributes, and so on. It’s an essential part of addressing Core Web Vitals and following Google’s Webmaster Guidelines for boosting your site’s SEO.
- Review Your Structured Data. Structured data makes your website’s code easier to read by search engines. It also allows you to add rich snippets for when your domain appears in SERPs, giving users a nice preview of your content.
- Review Your XML and Public Sitemaps. These allow users to easily navigate your site and for search engine crawlers to index it properly.
- Dissolve Error Issues. Common errors include HTTPS status, crawl errors, sitemap status, loading times, mobile-friendliness, broken images, broken links, etc.
Performing a website audit is not an easy task. It has various components and five key assessments you should periodically make. These include website performance, content quality, SEO and conversion rate optimization, and a technical evaluation.
All assessments mentioned are interdependent. When your website is performing well it will successfully convert users into returning visitors and buyers. To achieve this you have to ensure that your site’s technical features work flawlessly and that your content is of high quality and optimized for search successfully reaching your target audience.
If you wish to know more about the different sections or need help with your website performance, don’t hesitate to contact us.
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