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What Is a Website Audit and Why Are They Important?

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Like everything, websites require adjustments occasionally to help improve their experience and efficiency. Running a website audit ensures that you are able to fix any issues that may be preventing traffic from your site. No matter what size your business is, audits are crucial to assess what problems your site has with technical issues, SEO, and user experience. 

By taking time to audit your site, you are giving yourself and your brand more opportunities to identify and improve pages or content that are underperforming or having a negative impact on your website. Integral for site development, you should try to perform a website audit every three months.

Defining a Website Audit

A website audit is a process of examining your website’s performance before tackling SEO and/or website. Doing an audit helps you understand why your website isn’t generating enough traffic, it helps you see technical issues, understand why your sales and conversion rates aren’t developing properly, and how you can improve your user experience. 

Once you have located problems, you need to fix them. Ensuring that you have the technical knowledge is critical for fixing issues on the site. If you don’t have this know-how, it is advised to pass it on to someone in your organisation who understands development or hire someone to help you.

What Does a Website Audit Include? 

Website audits are important because they inform you of how our website is performing, what is working properly and what needs to be amended to allow for smooth functioning. This will eventually help you rank better and produce more traffic. Here are some of the things that should be included in every website audit. 

Site Security Audit 

While SEO and web design are naturally some of the first things that any website owner would choose to assess and monitor, website security is equally as important to prevent any issues for potential customers. 

Cybersecurity breaches happen daily, to small and large companies, so ensuring that your site is catered for security-wise is integral. These issues can massively impact large companies but research from the National Cyber Security Alliance found that 60% of small businesses end up closing only six months after a security breach. 

Finding what sections of your website that are vulnerable allows you to identify breaches and fix them before anything serious happens like a data breach or leak of personal information.

an infographic explaining a security audit for your website
Cybersecurity breaches happen daily, to small and large companies, so ensuring that your site is catered for security wise is integral. (Image Credit: Security Audit Systems)

Site Health Audit

This might seem like an obvious one to mention but ensuring you do a site health audit is crucial. A site health audit helps analyse the usability and the architecture of a site. You can find issues or gaps in areas like: 

  • Meta description
  • Broken links
  • Site structure
  • Internal linking
  • External linking
  • Page speed
  • Page titles
  • Load times 

There are plenty of tools to help you run a site health audit but two of the best available are Google Analytics and SEMrush. Once you have run an audit that takes full consideration of these factors, you will be able to ensure that your site is running at maximum efficiency and performance. 

Content and SEO Audit 

Content is king and it is important to analyse content performance to see what is working on your site and what is lagging. Doing an SEO and content audit can help you identify duplicate content, issues with broken links, alt tags and meta descriptions.

Having faulty content can confuse crawler bots that report their findings to search engines. This can hurt your rankings making it pertinent to regularly audit your SEO and your content. Creating relevant and unique content that engages an audience is a great way to attract prospective customers.

Competitor Site Audit

One way of consistently improving your site is to do a competitor site audit. Through doing this, you can gain a unique insight into what your competitors are doing that is performing well and learn from their achievements.  

You will be able to know how to improve your processes and deal with problems within your niche. This helps you implement a strong and rounded digital marketing strategy that takes into account the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors. 

Social Media Presence Audit

Every social media campaign is created as a means to drive traffic to a website and turn prospective customers into sales. Using social media strategies that have good calls to action or lead forms or even signing up for a newsletter is a great way to drive engagement.

Struggling to get this type of engagement? It might be because you don’t have a well-optimised site that prioritises user experience and has good UI. Assessing your social media engagement will also help you make the right decisions when fixing your website after a site audit. 

Penalty and Recovery Audit 

Want to uncover issues you think might have been found by search engines’ algorithms? Running a penalty and recovery audit to see what manual or algorithmic issues you are having to help recover your site and begin to rank again. 

Conversion Rate Optimisation Audit

Want to understand more about the users that visit your site? Use CRO or conversion rate optimisation to find out what people do when they are on your pages, how they move through the site, and why they might not be converting. For any action a user takes on your site, you have to appreciate: 

  • Who you are optimising for – your target audience
  • What to optimise – what content isn’t performing well
  • Where to optimise – what pages need to be reviewed. 

How to Audit Your Website 

Once you have decided you need a website audit, your next step is to do it. Creating a functional plan will help you deliver what you need to have a high performing site. 

Your plan can help you show the SEO efficiency of your site, you can analyse your site’s competitors and learn from their gains, you can identify issues and how to make the correct changes, and you can make a plan for your website’s future development. We’ve put together some tips on how you can audit your website.

Perform a Site Crawl 

Site crawls are a great way to check for any issues your site might be experiencing. You can use tools like SEMrush and Screaming Frog SEO Spider to gather this intel. Site crawls help you identify sections of your site that aren’t accessible to bots. 

This could be a myriad of issues from disallows, coding issues, and no index commands. You can also check for 404 errors on your site. These contribute to a negative user experience and can cause high bounce rates through broken links. This negatively affects SEO as do 500 errors. These are usually due to issues with your internal servers. Things like 502 bad gateway and 503 services unavailable are some of the issues you will see with your site. 

Another major issue is duplicated content. Doing a site crawl will allow you to see what content has been duplicated, including title tags and meta descriptions. Also, ensuring that redirects are properly implemented is critical. 301s allow an old URL to be directed to an existing page. This helps you maintain SEO rankings and allows people to access vital content. 

an image showing site audit data on semrush
Site crawls help you identify sections of your site that aren’t accessible to bots. (Image Credit: SEMrush)

Sort Your Technical SEO

Technical SEO can be made easy through tools such as Ahrefs, SEMrush, Moz, and Screaming Frog Spider. You can use an SEO audit tool to rewrite page titles, write solid meta descriptions, and check for canonical URLs.  

Having solid page titles makes it much easier for Google and users to understand what is on the page. There should be unique titles on every page, they should be under 50 characters with a target keyword included, and they should explain what is on the page. 

Meta descriptions are also integral for good SEO. They are longer than titles and are able to elaborate for Google and users to what is on the page that they have clicked on. It should be engaging and attractive to users, encouraging them to click on your page and read on. They need to be unique and not duplicated content as well. 

Another part of technical SEO you need to be aware of is checking for canonical tags. These tell search engines to index and rank the right pages. If you have the same or similar content on your site, signalling to Google which one should be indexed is important. This is done through canonical tags.

Make Sure Your Site Loads Quickly 

Site speed is particularly important for user experience and it can prevent traffic and create a high bounce rate if your pages are too slow. A 1 second delay can result in 11% decrease in traffic, according to the Aberdeen Group, which is not good for business.  

Another factor is that Google is fully aware of how fast your site is. This means that if your competitor’s site loads faster than yours, even if it is a mere second, Google will display their content before yours. 

There are plenty of methods to ensure that you have appropriate website speed. Tools like GTmetrix, Google Page Insights, and Pingdom are a great way of testing your site’s speed. With GTmetrix, you can test your page in different countries, different browsers, and see suggestions on how to improve speed for your site. Google PageSpeed Insights analyses speed and gives suggestions, as does Pingdom.

screenshot of the gtmetrix site
With GTmetrix, you can test your page in different countries, different browsers, and see suggestions on how to improve speed for your site. (Image Credit: ProfileTree)

Develop Your User Experience

User experience or UX is vital for traffic. If your site has a poor user experience, it can hurt SEO and rankings, and drive traffic to other sites. There are a few things you can do to ensure that your site has a good user experience. This area is important to consider as it helps users navigate your site better.  

One major layout decision that can help with user experience is adding imagery and video. They are engaging, help sell products or services, and encourage users to stay on your site longer, decreasing your bounce rate. Another thing to consider here is using white space. It allows content to be more readable, helping them focus on elements of surrounding text. 

With design in mind, choosing a good colour palette or scheme for your site is integral. These should align with your brand and be consistent to draw attention to your products or services. 

Using a strong CTA or call to action is a great way to instruct your visitors on what you want them to do next. Having a CTA on every page above the fold ensures that visitors notice them. Another lovely way to help with user experience is to include client testimonials on the site to give a peer review of the brilliance of your products or services. 

Ensure you have a functioning navigation bar is important for the user experience. It is what helps users find what they are looking for when they land on your site. The menu should link to your most important pages and be easy to understand, don’t add extra things that it doesn’t need.

an infographic showing the importance of ux design
If your site has poor user experience, it can hurt SEO and rankings, and drive traffic to other sites. (Image Credit: mauriziopittau.it)

Make Sure Your Site is Mobile Friendly 

Now considered one of the most important parts of site optimisation, ensuring your site is mobile-friendly is crucial for being promoted by Google. Back in 2015, Google announced a mobile-friendly algorithm that was going to boost mobile search rankings. 

They deliberately were giving mobile-friendly sites an advantage as nearly everyone has a mobile device that they use to search the internet on. There are a variety of audit tools to check whether your site is mobile-friendly or not. Google even has one that allows you to see a screenshot of your site on a mobile device. 

a shot of Google's mobile friendly test tool.
Ensuring your site is mobile-friendly is crucial for being promoted by Google. (Image Credit: ProfileTree)

Do a Website Audit and Improve Your Rankings 

Website audits are an increasingly important part of every solid technical strategy. They allow you to keep up with trends, improve your online presence, and update your content to ensure it is relevant and engaging to your users. It can be a technical process and a tedious task but you will see solid results over time when you put in the work.  

Regardless, sometimes these audits can be confusing and overwhelming. If you are unsure of where to start, contact ProfileTree to see how our team of digital marketers can transform your website and improve rankings. 

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