Website Audit: What is it and Why is it Important?
If you have an online presence, you want to make sure that all the information concerning you and your business is functioning as you intend it to. Normally, businesses or individuals will have a website. And this website needs to be doing everything it can to ensure your page is getting seen, is relevant, and is converting viewers to customers. This is where a website audit is important. Getting a website audit can rectify the issues your website have.
What is a website audit?
So what is a website audit? A website audit will be carried out by an individual, a team, or a whole agency, depending on the size of your site. Whoever you hire will comb through your website one page at a time, investigating and testing all manner of features, and the architecture of the entire site. The main things they will look at are:
- User engagement
- User experience
- Site Health
You may think you have all these areas covered on your own site, but a website audit may be necessary if:
- You are struggling to generate traffic
- Sales and conversion rates are not growing
- Your visitors are confused
- Website has any technical issues
All of these factors add up, and if your website is lacking in any particular area, a website audit will highlight that. That is why a website audit is so important to any growing business.
Why is Website Audit Important?
The next question you may ask is why is a website audit important? You may think that your website is perfect, you are getting traffic and conversion rates looks fine. It may be that you prefer to allocate more budget in marketing rather than spending it on a website audit. A website audit is important because issues on websites are often easily missed.
Did you know that it is bad practice to use multiple h1 (heading 1) tags on your website? Did you know that it can affect your Google rankings if you use the wrong heading tags? Well, this is why its important. You may think that these are small issues but it can have a big impact on your website. Companies that perform website audits have seen a lot of websites and have a lot of experience; they know how you can improve your website to get more conversions and better Google rankings.
Even if you are not struggling with your business and your conversion rates are good, fixing these issues can help you do even better. This is especially important for large enterprises because this could be the solution to growing their business further. Fixing these small issues could help the business grow and perform better. So now when someone asks you why is a website audit important, tell them that even fixing small issues on the website can help improve the performance of the website.
Analyse Website Performance
Your site’s overall performance and any technical issues will be evaluated. This may seem obvious, but even a one second drop in loading time can result in a loss of traffic, and therefore customers.
Did you know that 40% of web users will leave a site that doesn’t load in less than 3 seconds?
A website audit will assess the technical framework of your site, so if you don’t have much IT knowhow beyond the basics, this can be invaluable.
It will analyse how easy it is for users to navigate your site. This can be a real eye-opener, as sometimes it takes an outside perspective to see something you may have missed every time you looked!
And perhaps most importantly, a website audit will assess your site’s search engine optimisation, or SEO. This determines how suited your site is to fit Google’s guidelines. The more optimised your site is, the higher up the list of results it will appear when someone searches something relevant to your business.
SEO Website Audit: Improve SEO
Good SEO practices are a must for any successful online retailer, or any successful website at all for that matter. The experts who carry out your website audit will be experts in SEO and can point out any errors or missed opportunities you may have on your site.
The most common issues include:
- Wrong keywords
- Keyword stuffing
- Creating the wrong type of content
- Missing meta-descriptions and title tags
- Missing quality backlinks
- Plagiarised content
All of the above serve to harm your Google rankings, and make your site harder to find. This all of course leads to less conversions for you.
If you do need to re-write anything, here are a few quick tips:
Page titles are essential. They are a short and simple way of telling both Google, and any visitors to your site, what to expect on any given page. They should be short and snappy – 50 characters or less. Every page should have a unique title. Use your target keyword(s), and describe what’s on the page.
Meta-descriptions should be longer than page titles, and should be unique and attention grabbing, for Google and for your website visitor’s benefit. They should describe what users can expect to find on your page, and they should be creative, to entice people to choose your site over any others when they see them listed in the search results on Google.
Improve Conversion Rate
If people are visiting your website, that’s great. But what’s even better is when people are visiting your website, then leaving as customers. Whether they’ve bought something or signed up to a newsletter, they’ve interacted with your site. This is great for your rankings, as it will push your site farther up the list of results, if Google knows people are actually active on your page.
But people are less likely to become customers if your site isn’t functioning well. Poor technical performance, not user-friendly, and unappealing design all scare off potential customers. A website audit will show you where you’re going wrong in these areas, and tell you how to improve them.
This means a website audit can have a direct positive impact on your conversion rate.
These are some of the main benefits to having your website audited. What is actually involved goes a little deeper. There are many facets to a webpage that need to be professionally investigated to ensure they’re working correctly.
What Should be Included in a Website Audit?
So, you’ve decided your site may need a website audit. Your traffic is dropping, your conversions are lower than ever, and when you search your business, you don’t appear until the fourth page on Google.
If you decide to outsource your website audit to a professional IT company, there is a list of things that you should ask them if they include in their audits.
Website Audit: Site Health
This is important to check, especially because it’s easy to miss things on your own site, when looking from the inside out. Any of these aspects can severely damage your websites performance. The health check will cover:
- Page Speed
- Internal Links
- External Links
- Broken Links
- Load Times
- Page Titles
- Site Structure
A failure in any of these areas can lead to an ill-performing website, which will turn off any prospective customers.
Website Audit: Site Security
Often overlooked by smaller businesses, a cyber attack can be incredibly damaging to not only your company’s online presence, but to the bottom line of the business as a whole. Massive companies and institutions have been hacked before, and the resources they have behind them are enormous.
If your site goes down, not only will you lose money in the short-term, but it can have a massive knock on effect down the line. The National Cyber Security Alliance reports that 60% of small businesses are forced to shut down within six months after a cyber-security breach.
Conversion Rate Optimization
A conversion rate optimization (CRO) check will help you understand how visitors navigate your site, and why they do so in that particular way. Analysis of the way they travel around, what actions they do or don’t take, and what ultimately stops them from converting, is invaluable to a small business.
CRO can tell you:
- Where to optimise
- What to optimise
- Who to optimise for
Website Audit: Penalties and Recovery
If you’ve knowingly or otherwise participated in some frowned-upon SEO techniques, your site may have been penalised by Google. This means that it’s either been algorithmically penalised (which can happen in error – the website audit will also tell you this), or manually penalised. When this happens, Google thinks that what you’re doing or the way that you’re doing it, isn’t fair. Therefore, you get knocked down the rankings, and you’re harder to find for prospective customers.
A website audit will show if and why this has happened to your site, and most importantly, how to fix it. This may be a case of changing a few things which Google was right to penalise you for, e.g. keyword stuffing. A website auditor will also be able to spot if you’ve been unjustly penalised, and advise you on how to make an appeal to Google to have the restrictions lifted from your site.
Anyone who knows anything about marketing knows that information on your competition is worth its weight in gold. A good website audit will also take this into account. Knowing which keywords your competitors use, how they structure their site, what makes their visitors convert where yours don’t – this is invaluable information to a small business. If the IT company you hire don’t include it as standard, it is definitely worth inquiring about.
Content and SEO Analysis
As discussed earlier, the SEO ranking of your site is hugely important to its overall success, and therefore the success of your business. The website auditors will analyse all the content on your site and assess the SEO keywords nestled in any articles or blog posts you have on there. Broken links, meta-descriptions, keyword analysis and duplicate content will all be investigated and broken down to see how well they are performing.
If any of these areas are suffering, advice should be given to you on how to improve them so they can work better for your site and your business. This is crucial for any modern-day website’s success.
Social Media Presence
The prevalence of social media cannot be ignored. In its infancy, social media was mainly for individual use, for social networking and perhaps for creators to share and spread the word about their projects and latest releases.
Now, social media is essential for any business, especially a growing business looking to reach out and attract new customers. To a lot of people, the world of social media is totally alien, and mismanaged content on any social media platform can not only be a failure, but it can actively damage your businesses reputation.
Many IT companies will have a dedicated social media team to analyse your content and presence on social media platforms, or help you establish yourself on them if you haven’t yet.
How Much does an Audit Cost?
Now you know what a website audit is, what it entails, and what the website auditors are actually going to look at on your site. The next question in your mind is undoubtedly, how much will it cost?
And the answer is, of course: it varies.
This is fairly obvious, but it’s worth mentioning. If you have a large website, with lots of pages, blog content, products etc., then it’s going to cost more to audit. Simply because there is more data for the website auditors to analyse. The bigger the site, the longer the website audit will take, and of course the costs will increase. A small site can be audited completely in a few days, but a full-scale analysis of a big site can take weeks, sometimes months, to finalise.
Most IT agencies will offer a customisable website audit package, where you can choose which aspects of your site you want analysed, or which areas you want to take precedence over others. The items in the list above will all be included in a full website audit, and possibly more, depending on the capacity of the IT agency you hire.
- Site health
- Social media
These are the areas a full website audit will cover, as discussed in the previous section. If, for example, you do not have a social media presence, or you don’t wish to have your security analysed because you just had it all updated, then you should be able to exclude these from your package. This should in turn lower the cost, so it’s worth thinking about exactly what you need from your website audit.
However, it is recommended to have a full all-inclusive website audit done every now and again, especially if you’ve:
- Never had your wesite audited before
- Not had your website audited within the past year
- Started to see a decline in traffic and/or conversions
- Had a security breach
- Have made changes to your business/organisation
Website Audit Experience
Now that you know what a website audit is and what it is all about, its time to select an agency to do the audit for you. When selecting the IT agency to carry out your website audit, it is important to weigh up the above factors and comparing them with what the agencies out there actually offer. Then, you need to work out what you can realistically afford, and if any of the agencies in your price bracket are worth hiring.
A website audit is an important part of running a successful business online, so you need to make sure you leave it in safe hands.
Longevity is not always a factor to look out for when it comes to online services, as the best IT agency out there could have only been up and running for a month or two. A small, new business doesn’t necessarily indicate a bad, or ‘rookie’ business when it comes to IT services.
Having said that, if an agency has been around for a while, and they’re still going strong, then that’s a good sign that they deliver what they promise. It also means they will have relevant experience.
You will need to correspond with your prospective agencies before they undertake any work for you, so make sure you run through your list of needs. Regardless of what you require, all website auditors should be confident in the areas of SEO, industry standards, and that they can be trusted in terms of security.
Look for reviews and testimonials and ask your business-owner friends who they’ve used in the past.
This largely depends on the size of your site, and how in-depth you want the website audit to be. However, some agencies do offer an expedited service if you need the job done quick. Of course, this will mean a higher cost.
It’s recommended to let the website audit take as long as it takes; that way you know nothing is rushed.
If you choose to go with a larger IT agency, they will have more staff on hand to help speed your website audit along, regardless of whether or not you require an expedited service. Again, this it just something to bear in mind when it comes to selecting the right agency for the job.
Bear in mind that just as you can choose the IT agency for the job, they can decline to work with you as well. This can be for any number of reasons; it may be that they cannot deliver your website audit in the required timeframe, or that your site is too large for them to handle.
In Conclusion… A Website Audit is Essential for Success!
Now that you know what a website audit is, hopefully you can see the benefits of having your website audited. Times have changed a lot, and the advent of online shopping shifted the way we have to think about marketing ourselves and our business on the internet.
The rapid progression of mobile technology changed things again. Not only must our websites be viewable on any number of different devices, but they must also be able to keep up with the demand of a population who are constantly vying for up-to-date content.
Sure, you can have a website and have it audited once, when you first set it up. And yes, you might make a few sales, get a few sign ups; and maybe this is enough for you and your business. But the rest of us, it’s not. Search engines require websites to meet a set of high standards if they wish to be featured on the coveted first page, and rightly so. Meeting those demands is essential if you take your business, and your online presence, seriously. Get your website audited today, and you will reap the benefits for a long time to come. That is, until the next website audit!