If you’re about to redesign your website you should consider a full website audit first.
A website audit lets you examine each page’s performance and discover whether it’s achieving your goals – and if it’s not, you can see how to improve it.
Running an audit may seem like a large amount of work, but the benefits are immeasurable. By looking at performance, SEO, technical make-up and conversion rates, you can end up increasing your organic traffic, improving your conversions, and ultimately growing your revenue. Your website is your business’s storefront, and you need to ensure it’s doing exactly what you need, and not letting you down.
Optimize for maximum usability and performance.
It sounds obvious, but the more users you bring to your website, the more chances there are to generate leads and create customers. But if your website is hard to navigate or runs slowly, you’ll quickly put potential clients off.
Your audit should ensure that your site puts visitors first. Test the user experience from their perspective: is the navigation intuitive? Could someone arrive on your site and easily find what they’re looking for? Depending on your business and the site’s purpose, ensure that key information is prominent, from your services to your pricing.
It goes without saying that your site should be responsive and fast. More and more people are viewing websites on their mobiles, so yours needs to look great on any screen. Likewise, if your pages take a long time to load, you’ll put people off.
Get rid of error messages and broken links.
If you’re seeing error messages pop up everywhere you go, then there’s a strong chance that something’s gone wrong. Finding 302-, 404- and 500-level codes will help you clean up your site: these indicate that you’ve got an influx of broken links.
So, find your error messages and get rid of these dead ends. Broken links are a quick way to annoy your visitors: if they’re searching for specific information and get taken down a rabbit hole of error messages, they aren’t going to be happy. Broken links are also bad news for search engines, so it’s best to get them cleaned up ASAP.
Make sure search engines can easily find you.
For a search engine to crawl and index your pages – and therefore rank you – you need to guide its crawlers towards your most valuable content.
If you want to take a detailed, specific approach to the indexing of each page, use meta robot tags. You get more control over how pages are indexed and then displayed in search results. A robots.txt file is more general, and lets you show crawlers what parts they should and shouldn’t index.
Check that both your sitemaps are correct: your public sitemap for users and your XML sitemap for search engines. Your XML sitemap is vital, as it shows search engines what pages they should crawl and index.
Abide by SEO best practice.
An SEO audit is a vital part of your overall website check. Not only can it considerably change where you sit in SERPs, but there are so many major search engine algorithm updates that it’s important to stay on top of it.
Check analytics to see which keywords receive the greatest traffic and leads, and review your content strategy around them. Take time to assess your meta descriptions and meta titles, and use this guide for an overview of how to write good meta titles and descriptions.
Do a thorough content check.
Everything you post should be high quality and relevant to your audience. Ensure that you’re answering questions, providing thorough and correct information, and creating clear next steps. You need interesting, engaging and well-written content to gain your audience’s trust and attention, so be critical about the standard of content. It’s often worth hiring a professional copywriter for your website.
Update your email marketing.
While you’re overhauling the rest of your site, take time to check your email marketing. There are many things you can do to improve your clicks and conversions.
You may want to incorporate an email health check into this audit, so you can further identify where you need to improve. Testing different aspects of your emails is a great way to see what needs work. Changing your header images, call-to-action, send time, even your subject line (Moosend's subject line tester is particularly handy for this) can all affect your click throughs and conversions, and well worth considering.
Most critically, your audit should include the metrics you measure. Some may look great, but are they useful to the business? Work out what your ROI is and the value of each email address – as well as what it could be. These figures will help you decide how important your email marketing is, and how much resource to dedicate to it.
Check you’re not losing conversions.
Once visitors are on your site, you need to ensure they stay. Carry out an audit and identify where your conversions happen – and why they don’t. Using this information, you can develop landing pages and forms that encourage more people to convert.
Look at your gated landing pages and conversion forms, as well as the content and offers you’re using to get people to sign up. Likewise, check your calls-to-action. Are they effective? In the right place? Clear and obvious? Collating this information will help you turn more visitors into leads and customers.
A thorough audit of your website can be a total game-changer. It gives you the opportunity to combine great user experience with best practice SEO, to create a website that sits higher in the search engine results and pleases potential customers. You can see what’s letting you down and then analyze the data to see how to repair it. These may just be small changes, but they have a big impact on your business’s online success.
Victoria Greene is an ecommerce marketing expert and freelance writer who loves taking an in-depth approach to creating SEO-friendly content. You can read more of her work at her blog Victoria Ecommerce and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org