Now we’re into September, and you’ve realised that all those business goals you set in January are going to have to wait for 2019, now is the perfect time to run a website audit before the madness of Christmas gets underway.
Now, when you google website audit, all it talks about is search engine optimisation and all things related to your website’s level of search visibility.
But the reality is when you are setting time aside to give your website some real TLC you might as look at every single aspect from the homepage layout, to the SEO results and google analytics through to the staff profiles.
The most important thing though is to know what it is you want to find out. If your website has been getting the visitors but not conversions, then that’s one thing, but if your keywords and paid campaigns aren’t working, then the parameters are entirely different. So, it’s worth undertaking a range of audits at least once a year to understand what is really going on.
So, ask yourself what you want to understand better.
• Marketing sales/goals
• The effectiveness of data/analytics
• CMS and ease of use
Other things to consider are site speed, responsiveness and technical code.
To someone who knows what they’re doing (like our SEO team) and understands Search Engine Optimisation an SEO audit is a relatively simple task, but for anyone else, it can seem a daunting task and take a lot longer than the time you have available.
Not least because of the thousands of step by step articles and downloadable guides, which are ‘guaranteed’ to make the job easier.
The critical thing to remember when you undertake any kind of audit is why you’re doing it and, in this case, it’s to look at the current visibility of your website and discover how you can improve it.
The report will help you discover your strengths and weaknesses and show you how you can act on them to give you a competitive edge over your rivals.
Remember you want your visitors to enjoy the best user experience possible, and you want them to keep on coming back for more. So, to achieve that you need to understand from their point of view and see what they see, feel what they feel and do what they do.
The user behaviour metric can be a critical factor in helping to determine your search results so getting it right is more important than ever.
An SEO audit can also have a significant impact on your content. As you analyse your keywords and see what people are asking for, you can tailor your content accordingly to give you the edge over your competitors.
When you’re taking the time to look at your SEO, none of that will count for anything if your website is failing on the basics like its coding, speed and general well being, which are all key determining factors in your search ranking.
Nobody likes a slow website, in fact, the time it takes to load can put many customers off. Research by Akamai and Gomez.com revealed that up to 79% of customers who are dissatisfied with a website’s performance say they’re less likely to buy from the same site again.
But how fast should your website load?
“Two seconds is the threshold for e-commerce website acceptability. At Google, we aim for under a half second.” Maile Ohye, from Google.
There are plenty of free tools on the market for you to check your site speed, such as Pingdom.
It helps you analyse the load speed and lets you identify what about a web page is fast, slow, too big, what best practices you’re not following and how you can speed things up.
Almost 57% of all website traffic worldwide is now generated through mobile phones and tablets, so site responsiveness is more important than ever. That’s why Google is now placing more emphasis on it when it comes to your search ranking.
So how does your site compare to that of your competitors?
The easiest way to check how responsive your site is is to open it on a range of devices. But if you don’t have access to a full range of smartphones and tablets, there is a simpler solution.
To start with you can run a simple check on Google to see if your site is mobile friendly, this will flag up and problems and show you how easy it is viewed on mobile devices.
There are plenty of options out there to allow you to view your site on just about every mobile device on the market but it’s also available on all of the main browsers.
So, for example, if you use Chrome, all you have to do is to right-click anywhere on your site and choose Inspect which will open up a new screen.
Once there navigate to Toggle Device Toolbar (or simply press CTRL+SHIFT+M), and the site will open in a responsive mode where you can play around with different screen resolutions and devices.
There are already several predefined devices, so you can choose iPhone, Galaxy or Nexus devices and see how your website would look like loaded on those. Or if you know the different screen resolutions you can type them in and look at your site on any resolution screen that you want.
According to a study by Curata.com 37% of content marketers never complete a content audit. Which means they could be missing out on a massive trick because regular audits could play a key role in improving your content marketing strategy.
The audit involves looking back and assessing your old content and making sure it is still relevant. We are all guilty of writing something, posting it and then never revisiting it until we are forced too.
By conducting an audit, you can keep all of your content fresh and relevant – which is essential when it comes to SEO.
Before you start though, you need to decide on your key performance indicators or goals, so you know what you are assessing your content against.
The most common goals of your website content are:-
Improving your SEO
As your target keywords change, you need to make sure they are placed on old pages and old content. Decide which content is no longer relevant to the direction of your site and decide on the pages which are most likely to top your SEO rankings and make sure everything is ready to take full advantage.
Increasing your audience engagement
Find out which pages have generated the most engagement and traction. Whether it’s the most read, most commented on or most shared. Also compare this with your keyword searches, to make sure you are giving your readers what they are craving.
Knowing what your audience wants is the key to success for any business so using keyword searches can help you understand what people are looking for and provide the content to help them.
Improving conversion rates
Which pages on your website have the best conversion rate? Once you dig down through the statistics and know which ones are your best performing you can start asking why? What does that page have that others don’t? Why is that one more appealing than others? And all of the answers will make you better understand the psychology of your customers.
Positioning yourself as an authority on your chosen subject is key to the success of your website. After all, why should people read and believe what you have to say if they don’t see you as an expert on the subject matter?
By becoming an authority, your content will be picked up elsewhere, resulting in all-important backlinks which have a considerable impact on your SEO rankings.
A great way to check your authority is to use a tool from Moz called Open Site Explorer. This will help give you a list of backlinks for each piece of content, so you can see which pages are getting the most attention on the web and have the highest search authority.
This information can not only also help your content audit but also a complete link audit, should you choose to add that to your to-do list.
No search engine likes websites which are littered with bugs, security breaches or violations of programming conventions, which is why a technical audit is as important as anything else you can do.
Important questions to ask?
Does your site have an SSL (secure socket layer) Certificate?
Is your CMS running on the latest version?
What is your technical support/maintenance set up?
Running a security audit might seem like a daunting task but if you’ve not got the money to outsource it here are a few tips to make things as simple as possible.
1) Make sure all your scripts and applications, such as WordPress and plugins, are up-to-date and current.
2) Take a look at your passwords. Despite all the warnings we still tend to go for easily hackable options. You might want to use a password generator tool to come up with some strong ones.
3) Go through your website user accounts and delete any which are no longer used. You should also never share login credentials but if you have now is the time to change the details.
4) Run a complete security scan of your website.
5) Set up an ongoing security protocol which includes continuous scanning and removal or anything suspicious, advanced security monitoring and malware prevention.
So, in conclusion, we all need to take time out to check, assess and improve our website but the reality is this rarely takes place as a matter of urgency.
Now though, we are urging you to put some time in the diary and bring in the experts if you need to to make sure you keep your business on the right track and stay ahead of your competitors.