Your website is one of the most important tools in your content marketing toolbox, and every once in a while it needs to be sharpened. A website audit will help you identify the areas that need your attention so that your site is always performing at its best.
Complete with a checklist and downloadable website audit template, we’re here to give you the who, what, when, where, why and how of this digital marketing must-have.
What Is a Website Audit?
A website audit is an in-depth review of how the pages on your site are performing. From content to technical performance, the site audit process will give you insight in your website’s level of optimization and ability to achieve your traffic goals.
By assessing your website on a regular basis, you’ll find helpful answers to questions like:
- Is your website performing as expected?
- Is your website accessible and easy for users to navigate?
- Are any of your landing pages suffering from excessive loading times?
- Are all of the pages on your website search engine optimized?
- Is your website content promoting lead generation and conversions?
- How does your website compare to your competitors?
- Does your website have errors that are affecting your search ranking?
- What website improvements can you make to help achieve your content marketing goals?
While a complete website audit will paint the full picture of site performance, you can also hone in on types of audits that focus on specific elements of your site. This includes:
- Website health audit: Site analysis that focuses on common website issues, such as broken links, outdated plugins and page loading times.
- Content audit: An inventory of website content, such as landing pages and blog posts, that provides data-driven insights on content performance, identifies areas for content updates and highlights search engine optimization (SEO) opportunities.
- SEO audit: Evaluation of website elements that specifically impact organic search performance, including domain factors, keyword usage and content length.
- Technical audit: A deep dive into the backend elements that affect search rankings, such as sitemaps, mobile optimization and accessibility.
- Site design audit: With a focus on aesthetics and user experience, this audit is all about how users see and interact with your site design.
While it’s always a good idea to keep a close eye on your website performance, a full website audit that includes all of the above and more will take a decent amount of time to complete. Plus, you’ll need time to make improvements based on your findings and then give the changes room to breathe so you can collect data on how they affect performance over time.
With all that in mind, aim to conduct a detailed website audit at least once a year. Fill in the gaps between this annual deep analysis with a maintenance plan to assess certain elements on a quarterly or monthly basis.
Why Is a Website Audit Important For Your Content Marketing Strategy?
Conducting a site audit will help you achieve your digital goals, such as traffic, engagement and conversion goals.
For more reasons to add a website audit to your priority list, here are some additional benefits:
Maximize Results With Optimization
Conducting a website audit will help you assess your website’s performance and optimize it to make sure its technical framework, infrastructure and user experience are all up to standard. You’ll also be able to identify SEO opportunities in your website content and evaluate which landing pages and calls-to-action (CTAs) you can further optimize to boost lead generation and conversions.
Collect a Baseline Before Major Changes
Website improvements are great — but they’re even better if you have previous versions to compare the changes against. A website audit gives you a detailed snapshot of current content and performance, so it’s always a good call to conduct one before you make any significant changes, such as implementing a complete website redesign.
Once you make changes, you can refer back to the original audit to see if your edits are making a positive difference. You can also compare audits year over year for tangible proof of how your website has improved over time.
Keep Up With Digital Trends and Best Practices
When you’re competing in such a crowded digital space, it helps if your website meets the standards that your users are accustomed to and regularly interact with.
What’s more, website best practices are constantly changing, so you’ll want to keep up as much as you can to make sure your framework, design, content, features and accessibility create an engaging experience that’s easy for users to navigate.
Google will also like that your website is following best practices, so you’ll be more likely to end up in your target audience’s search engine results.
Fix Issues For Top Marks
With help from a website audit, you can catch and fix issues that could lead to Google putting your competitors above your website in search results. Low search rankings directly affect your organic website traffic, so your lead generation and conversion efforts are also likely to take a hit.
Instead of going down that path, you can use your website audit to identify broken links, error codes, long page load times, duplicate content and other surefire ways to lose users before they convert. The fewer errors you have, the more likely Google is to suggest a page on your website to new users.
Rise Above the Competition
While website improvements will boost your competitiveness in general, you can also incorporate a competitive analysis into your website audit. This includes evaluating how your website ranks against competitors so you can choose your keywords and other optimization opportunities wisely.
9 Steps to Conduct a Website Audit
When you’re ready to conduct a site audit, be sure to carve out some uninterrupted time to focus on each step. If you’re short on time or need extra support, you can also lean on external resources like site audit tools or agencies to jump straight to seeing the audit results and implementing recommended changes.
Follow this website audit checklist to guide your analysis:
1. Start With the Google Analytics Basics
There’s a lot of impactful website performance data wrapped up in your Google Analytics account, which makes it a good place to start your audit.
Explore the reports to get a general idea of your organic search traffic, including any patterns or trends over time that you notice. For example, has your organic search traffic increased in the past year? Are there significant dips or rises at certain times throughout the year? How does your organic search compare to other forms of website traffic?
The site content reports will also show your top-performing pages, which can help you identify the topics that are most likely to engage your audience. Additionally, you can pinpoint landing pages that could use some optimization help to reach their full potential.
2. Double Check That Google is Only Indexing One Version of Your Website
Remember that you want search engine crawlers to find your website — but only one version of it! Unfortunately, many website owners make the common mistake of having multiple versions of their site indexed by Google.
This is because there are multiple URLs that can exist:
You can test this by typing all four versions of your domain into your search bar. If your website is set up correctly, all four should redirect to the same version.
If they don’t redirect to the same version, you have your first correction to make! Go into your website settings to set up 301 redirects for all versions to automatically become the same URL.
While consistency is key here, so is your use of https:// in your domain. Https:// requires a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate to be installed, which makes it a signal of security and trust — and a big ranking factor from Google’s perspective.
3. Remove or Fix Content That’s Dragging Your Website Down
While you’re on the topic of indexing, consider removing low-quality content from your website so that Google is only reading and ranking your pages that provide the highest value.
To find out how many indexed URLs you have, search “site: yourdomain.com” in Google. Above the search results, you’ll see a total number of results.
Does that total number surprise you? Is it more or less than you expected?
If it’s a bigger number than you were anticipating, it means there may be duplicate or low-value content pages that you can remove so they don’t hurt your overall search ranking. This can include archived or old content, pages with less than 100 words, category or tag pages and broken links.
You’ll definitely want to fix broken links — meaning any internal link that leads users to a 404 error page — because they are one of the top indicators of poor user experience. Thankfully, it’s an easy fix: Simply correct the URL or remove the link entirely.
On the flip side, if the total number of results feels too low, there may be an issue with how your website is being crawled or indexed.
When looking for potential indexing issues, tools like Google Search Console can help you identify the most pressing fixes.
4. Assess and Improve Your Website Speed
Slow loading times are a major turn-off for users and Google alike, so you’ll want to check in on your website speed as part of your audit.
Use the Google PageSpeed Insights tool to test your page speed and follow its recommendations to optimize loading times and reduce high bounce rates to improve your ranking.
5. Review Your Site Structure and Navigation
Simple website architecture with clear hierarchies makes it easy for users to navigate, and search engine crawlers will also be more likely to index your website accurately. Take a look at how your website is organized through the eyes of your potential users.
As you review, ask yourself questions like these:
- Are your most important pages easily accessible from the main navigation?
- Is your website design clean, simple and intuitive?
- Does your website meet usability guidelines?
- Are your conversion paths easy for users to follow?
Your answers should help you identify which pages to optimize for maximum usability and accessibility.
6. Make Sure Your Website is Mobile-Friendly
By now, most websites are design-responsive to ensure they provide seamless user experiences on both desktop and mobile devices — but it never hurts to check in on your website’s mobile-friendliness.
Thankfully, Google has a tool for this, too! Run your website through the Mobile-Friendly Test to find out if your website is optimized for mobile devices and what issues you should fix.
7. Review Your Website Content
Is your website content meeting your goals? Identify the content you want to assess — from landing pages to blog posts to product descriptions and anything in between — and then categorize them by content type or other parameters to keep your audit organized.
From there, collect performance metrics for each piece of content so you can analyze and compare how well your content is doing. As you review the data, you’ll be able to identify next steps to improve pages, repurpose content and enhance your strategy.
8. Improve On-Page SEO
Optimizing your website is a delicate balance of meeting search engine needs and expectations while also prioritizing user experiences. In other words, your website content should not only be optimized for Google, but it should also provide value to users by answering their questions and addressing their pain points.
From a technical audit perspective, improving SEO will include reviewing backend elements like your meta descriptions, image alt text, page titles, keyword usage, backlinks and so on.
From a content audit perspective, you’ll want to make your landing pages and blog posts answer your target audience’s search queries with high-quality and engaging content. This is where an effective keyword strategy and top-notch writing skills shine.
Depending on your content marketing goals, you may also use this as an opportunity to implement local SEO and other strategies to improve your rankings.
9. Analyze Competitor Sites
Take a look at the competition to get an idea of how your website stacks up against the other places your potential customers could end up browsing. From design to keyword rankings, researching competitor performance will help you identify areas of improvement and content gaps that you can start filling.
For example, a keyword research tool will give you insight into what your competitors are ranking for that may be missing from your own report. Take note of those keywords and related terms to inspire new content for your website.
Download Your Website Audit Template
Ready to see how your website stacks up? Here’s your downloadable website audit template so you can start working your way down the checklist.
Remember that conducting a website audit takes time, and even the biggest brands in the world have websites in need of improvements. Patience will be your best website audit virtue, as well as an open mind to accepting your website flaws and identifying ways to fix them.
Here’s to your website’s health and top-notch performance!