The word “audit” doesn’t have many pleasant business connotations – but we want to discuss one type of audit that every online company should take time for: The website audit!
As we tell our clients, a website isn’t a “one and done” situation. Everything changes and evolves online, including website best practices, search techniques, image quality, SEO and lots more. A website that’s left entirely alone for years will age very poorly and could do more harm than good. That’s where a good website audit comes in.
What Exactly is a Website Audit, Anyway?
Like every audit, a website audit can be composed of many parts and may be tailored for a specific type of business or site – a general information page about a contractor business is going to be audited differently than an e-commerce site that directly sells and ships products. However, in general a website audit is, as Hubspot succinctly puts it, “An examination of page performance prior to large-scale SEO or website redesign. Auditing your website can determine whether it’s optimized to achieve your traffic goals, and if not, how you can improve it to increase performance.”
While audits do tend to come before big changes, they’re also a great way to check up on a website that hasn’t changed much in a long time to see where it stands – and what the most effective ways are to improve it. Some website mistakes may actually cause you to lose leads that would otherwise consider your brand, and audits can pick up on these mistakes where they may not have been noticed before!
Important Specific Benefits of an Audit
All right, that’s what a website audit is – but can it specifically help your company? What’s the end result? Let’s look at three key advantages this type of audit brings.
1. Website Performance Optimization: Website performance focuses on how a website behaves as people use it – how fast it loads, how easily it moves to different parts of the site, and so on. This is becoming an increasingly important facet of websites as most searching is now done from mobile devices and performance expectations are very high (Google suggests that the average business site should load in a second or two, something that many sites still fail at). Obviously not all performance is influenced by web design, but the audit can pick up on key things that should be changed, such as different coding and structure, different kinds of images, more mobile optimization, etc.
2. Search Engine Optimization: SEO depends on the content, metadata, and links on your website. An audit examines these important components to make sure that they are set up for the best SEO possible. SEO in particular can change over time, and SEO practices that were common several years ago may actually be detrimental now, so an audit is key for finding what should be changed.
3. Conversion Optimization: A website should convert leads to sales, right? But not all websites are actually good at this. Sometimes websites hide important information that buyers need to make a decision, or don’t have good product info. Websites that allow direct online sales don’t always provide the best payment options. Sometimes, sites just don’t have the calls to action they need to encourage people to buy in the first place! So the last key part of a site audit is looking at conversion metrics and what could be improved on the site to get more sales and better ROI.
Key Audit Steps to Take
Again, the best audit steps for a unique site can vary, but generally most of the audits we do focus on several important facets, including:
- Making sure calls to action, pop-ups, web forms, and similar information-collection content is working
- Making sure all contact information, addresses, and dates (like the website footer date) are current
- Seeing if the website has an FAQ page and helping create one if not
- Checking Google Analytics to see how visitors are behaving on the site – where they’re coming from, what pages they’re going to, how long they are staying, where they’re leaving, and so on (this provides a lot of information about well the site is working)
- Speed testing for performance: Google actually has tools to help with this, along with other auditing tasks
- SEO assessment, which includes using services like Spyfu, SEM Rush, Ahrefs, and more
- Technical auditing, which using tools to help find errors in links, problems with URLs, issues with metadata (or the absence of metadata) and more to really dig down to the details of how Google sees your site
Try Out Our Free Checklist for Your Own Audit!
We also have a checklist that can help you get started! You can download it directly right here, and it will help you identify the most important parts of your website to audit and remind your team of the key things to look for. This audit can help your company understand more about what to look for, but sometimes an outside expert is needed to really take a deeper look. That’s why we offer auditing services with our expertise in tools like Spyfu, SEO experience, web traffic, and other components that may not always be clear to the average business. Let us know if we can help!
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