To stay competitive, it is necessary to routinely take a step back and meticulously evaluate your website. A website audit involves identifying pages that need improvement and carrying out those changes to ensure your site continues to be increasingly profitable.
While a website audit can be solely focussed on a particular aspect, such as improving search visibility or the quality of content, an effective, in-depth audit factors in various aspects that together constitute a high-performing website, namely:
First and foremost, open your website from the user’s perspective. Be brutally objective, then answer the following key questions:
1. Do you like the speed at which it loads?
2. Do you find it easy to navigate?
3. Do you like the look-and-feel of the website?
4. Is the content engaging enough?
5. Does it look genuine and trustworthy?
6. Is it mobile-friendly and responsive?
If your answer to all the questions is a resounding yes, then you’re off to a great start. However, chances are, that’s not the case.
Let’s start with your site’s loading speed. Your website shouldn’t take more than five seconds to load. If it does, it’s time to take serious action. Start by stripping your website off of bulky images and useless elements. Minimize HTTP requests, use a content delivery network (CDN), enable compression and browser caching, and basically do whatever it takes to improve the loading speed.
Site speed is especially crucial for mobile-friendliness. Google’s research suggests 53% of people will leave a mobile page if it takes longer than three seconds to load. So, the need for speed is truly a life-and-death matter for your business.
Next, make sure your site’s design is super intuitive to navigate, responsive (adapts automatically to the screen size on which it is loaded) while being aesthetically pleasing.
Finally, ensure your content is top-notch — valuable, comprehensive, well-researched, original, readable, personable, actionable, and grammatically and factually correct. Yes, all of that.
Truth be told, all these factors that constitute sublime usability can be ticked off easily if you make your website minimalistic. Essentially, the concept of minimalism lays emphasis on keeping things simple yet elegant.
A minimalist design doesn’t beat around the bush and delivers exactly what the user expects, without any fluff. It makes the content (which is king) shine and trims the fat from your design, so to speak.
Search Engine Friendliness
For nearly every website, ranking on the first page of Google search results is pivotal to hitting its business goals.
Usability and search engine friendliness actually go hand-in-hand. Today, search engines like Google are pretty smart. If your site delivers a great user experience, then it is already well on its way to becoming an extremely search-friendly (read “high ranking”) website.
For instance, site speed, which is important to usability, is officially a ranking factor for both mobile and desktop searches. So, slow loading speeds will seriously hurt your rankings on Google. Similarly, a poor site structure will hinder your site’s crawlability and indexability by the Google bots.
That being said, when conducting a site audit for search engine optimization (SEO), there are many other things (on-site and off-site) that demand your attention, such as:
- Content, page titles, meta descriptions, and URLs need to be keyword-optimized.
- The number of backlinks should be steadily growing and the sites linking to you should be of high quality.
- All outbound links must be pointing to quality websites, internal linking has to be done properly, and there shouldn’t be any broken links.
- All images should have appropriate alt text and be optimized for speed.
Furthermore, SEO audits also comprise technical SEO factors such as reviewing the robots.txt file, XML sitemap status, keyword cannibalization, and more. In fact, search engine friendliness extends to improving your website’s security…
It goes without saying that ensuring your site’s security is paramount for both, your business and your website visitors. A well-guarded website will present a secure environment for your potential customers and boost conversions.
Don’t wait for a hacker to remind you of the importance of securing your website. When auditing your website for security, here’s a list of things you might need to check up on (if you haven’t already):
- The login credentials are strong and immune to brute force attacks.
- Your content management system (CMS) and plugins are up-to-date.
- Frequent site backups are scheduled beforehand.
- An SSL certificate to protect your customer’s sensitive data is in place. In fact, an SSL is considered so important that Google uses them as a ranking factor and without one, your site won’t do well in search results.
- Regular malware scans and vulnerability tests are taking place.
Hackers target businesses of all sizes. Numerous small businesses, including SaaS startups, agency websites, blogs, and eCommerce stores fall victim to hackers every day.
The last thing you want is to lose your website to a hacker, or worse, compromise your customers’ data due to a cybersecurity lapse on your part. So, don’t forget to periodically review your site’s security status.
Just as your business’s physical premises need to be readily accessible to people with disabilities (such as the wheelchair-bound), your website should likewise be easily accessible to everyone so nobody faces any disability-related biases.
Simply put, an accessible website is one that accommodates all users on all devices regardless of the physical or mental ability of the user.
Often easily overlooked during website audits, your site’s accessibility can no longer be an afterthought. That’s because it is mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Failing to make your website accessible makes your business prone to expensive lawsuits by advocacy groups. As it happens, discussions about website accessibility have increased and 2018 saw a 181% rise in Federal ADA lawsuits over 2017.
Besides, almost 26% (one in four) of adults in the United States live with a disability. So, neglecting website accessibility means you are willingly shunning a huge audience before you’ve even had a chance to introduce who you are and what your business is about.
To get started with improving your site’s accessibility, here’s what you can do in your website audit:
- Verify if there’s sufficient color contrast between different elements on every web page.
- Ensure there’s an alt text for all images.
- Check if all the anchor text is sufficiently descriptive and the fonts used are functional rather than fancy.
- Test your website with web accessibility evaluation tools.
Better accessibility not only safeguards your business against costly ADA web accessibility lawsuits, but it translates to better user experience for everyone, and so, pay heed to it when conducting a website audit.
A comprehensive website audit might take a good chunk of your time but it’s well worth it. When done right, a regular (say, yearly) audit will help you discover gaps and weaknesses in your website which, in turn, allows you to continuously improve your site, and thus, revenue.