The word audit often fills people with dread. What will it find? What will it mean for your business? And what will need to be done? But don’t fear. Website audits can be extremely valuable and absolutely necessary when it comes to SEO and site performance – providing you with more answers than questions.
But just what does a website audit entail? What do you need to look out for? And what are the benefits?
We got round the table recently for one of our regular Whiteboard Wednesday meetings (okay, it was on a Tuesday this week!) to answer some of these questions, as well as looking at the many factors that need to be considered when carrying out a website audit.
Obviously with such a complex subject there is plenty to get your teeth into (we did) and it’s something that you can talk about all day (we almost did!)
So here’s brief summary of just some of the issues that we covered as well as why it’s important for a business to carry out audits and what can be achieved.
What are the benefits of an audit?
It’s worth remembering that website audits usually evaluate a site not only for its content but also for its technical performance.
It’s a chance for you to review the strengths and weaknesses of every page of your website and can offer constructive and accurate feedback almost immediately.
So rather than being all about the bad news look at this as an opportunity to focus on the good.
A thorough audit can actually determine whether or not your site is optimised to achieve your goals, and if not, how you can improve and increase performance.
This is also your chance to identify any missed SEO opportunities and remedy any of those misguided and poorly executed SEO pitfalls such as keyword stuffing, poor use of anchor text and bad links.
Thanks to an audit you’ll be able to spot any previously overlooked factors or penalties and re-evaluate the effectiveness of your website – hopefully converting visitors into leads.
5 Things to Look at During an Audit
1. Is your site functional?
You could have the best website going, but if people can’t see it or even use it, then there’s not really much point.
An audit is a good chance to test your site across a number of browsers, or at the very least check that the site functions properly on the most popular options such as Google, Firefox and Internet Explorer.
This is also your chance to ensure the site is responsive across a range of tablets and devices for mobile use.
What’s that, you don’t have a responsive site?
Well now might be the time to start thinking about getting one as the amount of people access websites via their mobile devices continues to increase at a phenomenal rate.
2. How does it look on page?
Your website is key when it comes to your marketing strategy and as well as your social media profiles a site can showcase the image of your entire business.
So ask yourself, is the image you are portraying through your website the same as the image you are portraying offline?
When conducting a web audit you must examine all of the pages and sections thoroughly and ask yourself basic questions like: Do the colours remain consistent? Are all of the images to a standard format? And are important details such as phone numbers and addresses written consistently throughout?
3. Is your site packed with good quality content?
When looking at the content on your website ask yourself, is the message you are putting saying enough about your business.
But there are some other key factors that you must examine when it comes to copy and content.
Make sure you don’t overload your copy with too many keywords. Recent Google updates have spelt the end for generic copy that’s keyword heavy, so you need to be sure copy is original and keywords are used as naturally as possible.
4. Is the site technically sound?
Response code errors popping up all over the place, 404 Errors and 500-level response codes are a pretty unsubtle hint that something aint right with a website. So it’s pretty important to find those error messages and clean up your broken links as soon as you find them.
Tools like Google’s Webmaster Tools or Xenu’s Link Sleuth are pretty straight forward to use and can be very helpful for this.
5. Are your URLs optimised?
If your site’s URLs are excessive in length due to keyword stuffing or contain session IDs that include far too many dynamic parameters, then they become much harder for search engines to index.
In order to gain more control over how your URLs appear in search results, it’s recommended that you pick a canonical (preferred) URL. This will also help when it comes to issues such as duplicate content (which this isn’t, but Google things is).
Sound a little too much like hard work?
Often an audit can be the time to say out with the old and in with the new. So maybe this should be the time to start looking for some new URLs?