Why Do I Need a Website Audit?
1. Your Users Can’t Navigate Your Website Properly
When you‘re looking at your website all day every day, you will have no problem navigating round the site – this makes it easy to overlook any problems a user may have. Common features of hard to navigate websites include:
- Too many items in the navigation bar – instead of listing all your services in the top menu, try to organise them appropriately in dropdowns – keep the amount of tabs in your main menu to a minimum.
- Overlinking – users should not have to click more than 3 times to reach their desired page. This also applies to search engines, which are less likely to crawl hard to reach pages.
- Every page should have a clear way to return to the homepage (clickable logo etc).
- Overload of information on the homepage that dilutes useful information.
- No search function (essential for e-commerce websites).
- Hard to contact you – think social icons, phone number clickable on mobile, clear address and email address.
- The full screen ‘sign up now’ pop up before your user has even made it past the homepage.
User testing as part of your audit is an effective method of ensuring your website is user-friendly, it generally involves users recording their screens and fulfilling specified ‘tasks’ on your website and feeding back on the process – for example; ‘navigate to the blog’ or ‘purchase X item’.
2. Your Website Isn’t Properly Optimised
The breadth of SEO means that this covers a whole host of things – all of which can be uncovered and rectified by a site audit, basic checks include:
- Areas for optimisation in content – thin, useless content will need updating, redirecting or removing.
- Images not properly tagged – this is how search engines know what the image is.
- HTTP / HTTPS – identifying any mixed content issues on the website.
- Meta issues – ensuring all pages have unique and relevant meta data.
- Headers – Ensuring H1’s 2’s and 3’s are used properly throughout the site.
- Mobile responsiveness – mobile traffic now outnumbers desktop traffic – you need to make sure your site functions properly on mobiles and tablets.
- URL structures – ensuring all your pages have proper URL structures.
- Indexability – ensuring that all relevant pages on your website are indexable, and blocking those that do not need to be indexed, for example, a ‘thank you’ page.
- Duplicate content – Identifying and rectifying any pages with similar or identical content.
- Broken links – both external and internal 404’s will need to be rectified/redirected.
3. Your Website Is At Risk Of Penalisation From Search Engines
Some established websites may have taken part or worked with SEO companies that provided them with ‘black hat’ SEO methods back in the day; this could include link farming, keyword stuffing, cloaking or similar.
All of these methods may have worked to increase rankings and traffic at the time – but websites that partook may now find themselves being hit with penalties from search engines as their algorithms become more intelligent.
A site audit can identify and correct anything that can lead to a penalisation before it does, or rectify the cause of the penalisation should the site be hit with one.
4. Your Website Is Taking Too Long To Load
People are lazy, if your website takes longer than 5 seconds to load you’ll probably see a higher bounce rate, lower pages per session and a higher cart abandonment rate on e-commerce sites.
Google’s own research has suggested that if page load time increases from 1 second to 3 seconds, the bounce rate increases 32%. If it goes up to 6 seconds, the bounce rate increases by 106%.
More importantly, Google knows people are lazy and have stated that site speed is a ranking factor – meaning that sites that take longer to load could find themselves being pushed down in the SERPS.
You can test your site speed using Google’s own Page Speed Tool which will give you insights into the current level of optimisation on your website.
From May 2021, Google’s new page experience ranking factor will take into account Core Web Vitals, a new set of metrics which relate to speed, responsiveness and visual stability.
Common Reasons for Slow Loading Speed
During an audit, the most common reasons for site speed being too high will be identified, these often include:
- Properly formatting and compressing images (think of those 2mb images cooped up on your blog posts).
- Reducing the amount of redirects – this creates additional HTTP requests and slows load time.
- Minifying JS and CSS files by eliminating unnecessary characters and comments from the CSS.
- Reviewing the amount of plugins on your site – one for all you plugin junkies out there.
5. You Want To Analyse Your Competitors
Knowing what online strategies your competitors are carrying out is paramount to staying on top of your industry, and a good site audit should include some level of competitor analysis.
This will start with identifying your main competitors (if you don’t already know them) and almost running a mini audit on them including their content, social activities, targeted keywords, backlinks and organic / paid search activity.
Analysing your competitors gives you the information needed to give you an idea of where you stand in comparison to them – allowing you to alter and improve your online strategy if that is what’s necessary to become more successful than them.