People need regular health check-ups to assess their well-being, so do websites. Conducting a website audit is what a check-up is to a sick person. It’s an essential tool to examine a website’s overall health and identify technical issues that negatively impact site performance. A site audit helps uncover website flaws, and is usually done before the start of a website redesign or an SEO campaign. Understanding your website’s weaknesses allows you to make the necessary changes. In doing so, website performance can be greatly improved.
Website Audit Checklist: The Common Technical Issues You Encounter
A website audit unveils issues in site architecture, speed, functionality and search engine friendliness, namely:
- Low Quality Pages
Low quality pages have thin content which provides little to no value to site visitors. Often, they have high bounce rates and low user retention time. If a page doesn’t answer search queries, is error-filled or is deliberately spammy (like doorway pages that funnel people to other sites) might as well delete it. Low quality pages harm your brand or worse, earn you a Google penalty. You can improve a page by replacing stale copy with high-quality content.
- Crawl Errors
Search engines like Google use search bots to collect data found on different sites. The process by which these bots collect data is called crawling. Website pages successfully crawled by bots are stored in databases and indexed by search engines. Google then shows these pages on SERPS when they correspond to certain search queries.When crawling errors occur (site error or URL errors due to blocked search bots), accessing content and indexation becomes impossible. If search engines cannot access your website, efforts in designing your website and creating content become useless. You will not be seen by the users.
- Mobile Friendliness
More than 50% of the world’s organic search traffic comes from mobile devices. Since July 2018, due to an increase in mobile searches, Google made mobile page load speed a key metric for page rankings. In 2019, Google also adopted mobile-first indexing, which means that it predominantly crawls and indexes mobile version of websites, not desktop versions.For this reason, a mobile-first approach is necessary. The quality of websites on mobile devices must be as good as its desktop version. This ensures the best user experience across different devices – whether desktop, tablet or mobile phone.
- Page Speed
Page speed measures how quickly (or slowly!) your page loads. Slow loading pages tend to have high bounce rates and short user retention. A 2018 Google study showed that 53% of users leave a site that takes longer than three seconds to load. Longer load times negatively affect conversions.
- Broken Links
Broken internal and external links point to non-existent resource pages. While Google has clarified that broken links don’t hurt your site, it leads to poor user experience. Users looking for valuable information get frustrated when they get 404 errors. They leave your site. This bad experience also prevents them from returning to your website in the future.
- Site Security
Is your confidential data encrypted? Have enabled SSL security? Is your website susceptible to cyber attacks and malware? A site audit answers these questions. It exposes your site vulnerabilities so that you can increase your protection against potential security breach.Since 2018, Google has flagged sites that are not HTTPS enabled as “not secure”. This Google policy was rolled out to compel the installation of SSL/TSL Certificates among websites. If you’re accepting online payments, collecting personal information from users, or simply trying to establish website credibility, enable data encryption to eliminate security risks.
Benefits of a Thorough Website Audit
By conducting a site audit, you not only evaluate website technical performance (including site architecture, technical framework, SEO-friendliness, navigation and user experience), you also understand what changes need to be implemented.
A website audit helps to identify any missed SEO opportunities. You become aware of relevant on-page ranking factors. You pay attention to details that matter in SEO– optimisation of high quality content and images, optimisation of meta tags and title tags as well as the use of accurate keywords or call-to-actions in web copy. Once the audit is complete, you’re equipped to implement a better SEO strategy.
Website audits also assess your website’s conversion and lead generation rates. By discovering reasons behind poor traffic, high bounce rates and low conversions – low page speed for instance – you can implement an action plan to specifically address these flaws. A recalibrated website with optimal performance impresses users. And if users are impressed, Google will also be impressed.
Why Work with SEOs and Web Design Experts
In website audits, finding problems is half the battle. Fixing them is another matter. You don’t just jump the gun and make random (uncalled for) changes. For reliable advice, seek the help of SEO specialists. They are equipped with technical skills to conduct a thorough website audit and implement tangible solutions in line with your digital marketing objectives.