How to Run a Comprehensive Website Audit
61 Essential Checks Every Business Should Perform Regularly
Many business owners I talk to are actually not sure if their business website actually still supports their business objectives. The initial excitement of launching their online presence can quickly get overshadowed by actually focusing on running their business. As a result, the effectiveness and value of many business websites actually decline over time. A simple way to avoid that is by running a comprehensive website audit on a regular basis.
Warning Signs of an Ineffective Website!
Raise your hand if any of these sound familiar:
I have little or no website traffic!
My CTAs are not converting!
My website bounce rate is so high it is a trampoline!
Website visitors don’t read my blog!
Nobody is opting in to my email list!
And the biggie:
MY PHONE’S NOT RINGING!
Did you answer yes to one or more of the above? If you did, you might have an ineffective website. And there is only one way to know for sure why your business website may be working against you!
You Need to Perform a Comprehensive Website Audit!
As much as some business owners would like there to be, there is simply no one-size-fits-all website! That makes sense since there is no one-size-fits-all business, service, product, or consumer. By not aligning your business website with your audience expectations, it will not support your business objectives. And a comprehensive website audit is just the thing to find out exactly where the disconnects are.
What is a Comprehensive Website Audit?
To make sure we are all on the same page here, I am not talking about an SEO audit of your site, or about validating your site for W3C compliance. Don’t get me wrong; both are essential for your online success. And I will cover them a bit later. But a comprehensive website audit is a bit more holistic than that. In addition to SEO and tech, it also includes design, content, and even your blogging efforts.
Consider it as a complete checkup or assessment of your business website or e-commerce store. A comprehensive website audit determines if your site is performing the way your target audience expects. Remember, you are not building your website for yourself! Instead, you need to put your target audience and their needs first.
Why Does it Matter?
If you own a car, do you ever check the oil or brakes? Of course, you do, it keeps your vehicle running safely. Well, the same goes for your business website. If you want it to support your business objectives, you need to assess your business website periodically. A comprehensive website audit ensures that it is performing the way that it is supposed to. A comprehensive website audit will tell you the following:
- The kind of online presence you have
- Which items need improvement on your website
- What you lack and need to improve your online presence
How to Get Started
If you’ve never performed a comprehensive website audit on your site, it is pretty overwhelming. I mean, where do you even start a comprehensive website audit? Because we are your mobile-first web design gurus, we have created this mega list of tasks. Use it to perform a comprehensive website audit on your site on a monthly or quarterly basis. We use the same checklist when we audit our client sites as well, so I know it will work for you!
Your Comprehensive Website Audit Checklist
A comprehensive website audit involves identifying which pages need improvement and carrying out appropriate changes. A review of your website will ensure that your site generates quality traffic and effectively converts leads to sales. Ideally, you should perform a comprehensive website audit at least once a year. If you are like our agency and continuously updating your website content, I recommend you run a comprehensive website audit every 3 – 6 months.
By conducting a thorough audit of your website, content, and functionality, you’ll be able to stay on track toward achieving your business goals. The process is particularly helpful if you’re planning to redesign your website to keep your site in line with a redefined brand or shifting audience expectations.
Follow this simple audit checklist to help you evaluate your entire website. If this is your first time doing a comprehensive website audit, you may need technical help from your web designer or agency.
61 Essential Website Checks and Audits You Should Perform
This part of our comprehensive website audit deals with general website info. Every business or website owner should be able to answer the following questions about their website.
General Website Info
- Do you know where your website is? — Don’t laugh! Many business owners are not even sure who is hosting their website, who their domain registrar is, or even how to find out.
- Have you checked your domain registration lately? — Register your domain with a reliable domain registrar like GoDaddy.
- Do you need to renew your domain? — You can register any domain for 1, 2, 5, and 10-year periods. More extended periods get higher search rankings.
- Are you able to access your website to make essential content updates? — You should be able to handle minor updates without having to rely on your web designer or agency.
- Do you have information about your web hosting plan, whom to contact for support, and the login information? – Many website owners are unsure about this!
- Are you using a dedicated email hosting service such as G Suite for Business or Office365? – Professional email hosting improves reliability, reduces resource usage on your web server, and makes you look professional.
Website Security and Performance Audit
This part of our comprehensive website audit deals with both the overall performance and security of your website. For those of you who do not have techie inclinations, you may need your web designer or hosting company to help you with this.
Security and Performance
- Do you have a security plugin or system in place to protect your site from hackers? — Not protecting your business website is like an open invitation for hackers!
- Have you removed any default users (admin, for instance) from your site? — Some themes and plugins or extensions create users by default that you must remove.
- Are you using strong usernames and passwords to secure your site? — Avoid “admin1234” if you want to keep your online presence secure.
- Do you have a backup system in place in case your website gets hacked or crashes? — In a worst-case scenario, you need the ability to restore your website quickly, or you may have to pay for a new one.
- When was the last time you backed up your site? — For static or brochure websites, you should at least have a weekly backup. For e-commerce sites, I recommend backups every 24 hours and more often is better.
- Do you have an anti-spam system in place for spam prevention and resolution? — Both your human visitors and search engines hate spam, so be sure to keep it away from your site.
- Do you have an SSL (Secure Socket Layer) Certificate installed and configured? — Not only is it a Google requirement since August 2018, but it will also instill a sense of trust in your online visitors and consumers.
- Run a full security scan and immediately fix any issues. — If you have not done so recently, I recommend you make this a priority.
- Check for broken links and remove or fix them. — Broken links not only annoy online visitors, but they also hurt your search rankings. Use a tool like ScreamingFrog to find and fix broken links.
- Check your website optimization and page load speed. — Ideally, your site should load in less than 2-3 seconds. Use tools like Pingdom and GTMetrix to identify and remove bottlenecks.
Visitors abandon 53% of mobile website visits if a mobile site takes longer than three seconds to load. For every one second delay in site load time, conversions fall by 12% Google.
This part of our comprehensive website audit deals with the basics of a WordPress audit. For those of you who do not have techie inclinations, you may need your web designer or hosting company to help you with this.
- Is your WordPress version up to date? — As of this post, the current version is 5.3.2.
- What plugins are you using?— Review all plugins with your web team to understand how they are used and create documentation for future reference
- Have you documented all licenses, renewal costs, and renewal dates for all premium plugins? – This information is critical for continued support.
- Do you have any unused plugins? – Deleting unused plugins will improve both your website security and your page load speed.
34% of all websites on the Internet use WordPress, the open-source content management system. Web Hosting Rating
- Is your WP theme up-to-date, and does the theme developer still support it? — One way to find out is to check the last time the theme was modified.
- Are you using a child theme? — Using a child theme is recommended if you made any code changes to your WP theme to prevent them from being overwritten when the theme updates.
- Clean out your WP theme folder! — Your theme folder should only contain your active theme and one fallback theme.
Design and Content Audit
This part of our comprehensive website audit is also one of the most critical! The success and conversion rate of any website or landing page depends on optimized design and content. Here are the things you need to check to make sure to align your web design and content with your target audience expectations.
- Is your website mobile-friendly and responsive? — The majority of website visitors are using mobile devices, so you want to make sure you comply with mobile-first user expectations.
- Is your website’s navigational menu easy to use? — Make sure to test it on both desktop and mobile devices.
- Is the overall design of your website cohesive and consistent with your brand strategy and image? — Using cohesive design elements throughout has been proven to increase trust and engagement from online visitors.
- Have you defined (or are you using) a color scheme on your website for brand consistency? — Make sure this is applied consistently across your site.
- Are your site’s typography and fonts easy to read? — Try to avoid serif fonts as they are hard to read on smaller screens.
- Are you using only high-quality graphics and images on your website? — With increasing screen resolutions, you need to use hi-res images and SVG graphics whenever possible.
A study found that 94% of negative website feedback was design related. Sweor
Check every content posted on your site, from blog articles to landing pages. Create a comprehensive list of all pages and evaluate your website pages using the following criteria. After the content audit, you may want first to revise website pages that require the most work.
- Have you clearly defined the goal for all of the pages that you have added to your website? — Your website content needs to be concise, relevant and aligned with the interests of your target audience.
- Do you have compelling CTA’s (Calls to Action) on all of your pages that lead your visitors to the desired action? — Your visitors will follow clear instructions more than leaving it up to them.
- Do you have a landing page connected to your website that you can use to collect email addresses and follow up with your email subscribers later? — Designing a useful landing page will help you increase conversions.
- Is your content helpful and engaging? — Keep in mind the ever-relevant Internet marketing mantra “content is king.” You should ensure your site is brimming with well-developed and personable content that appeals to your target market. Your content should be well-written and informative, and your website pages should have persuasive calls-to-action.
- Does your about page describe the problems that you solve in simple and easy to understand to your readers? — Your online visitors are looking for solutions and answers to their questions. Make sure you provide both!
- Is your website copy clear and easy to understand? — Make your target audience feel they are in the right place and avoid tech-speak and industry jargon at all costs.
- Check for grammar and spelling errors. — Pages with lots of grammatical and spelling issues should be updated immediately, as these errors inevitably affect your credibility and authority.
- Check for duplicate content. — Unique, original content dominates the first page of search engine results, so make sure your website doesn’t have any rehashed, plagiarized material. Also, Google penalizes sites that bluntly copy pages of content.
- Check for outdated or inaccurate content. — Revisit old content to check for outdated information and do proper research to update inaccurate data and add links to newer sources.
- Do you have excessive advertising? — Nobody likes getting interrupted while viewing an article or seeing overtly distracting ads while navigating a website. Strike a balance between useful content and subtle advertising to avoid annoying users.
This part of a comprehensive website audit helps you understand how to improve your SEO strategies and campaigns. It identifies why some of your tactics are not getting you the results you want. Make sure to follow the best on-page SEO practices at all times.
On-Page / On-Site SEO
- Are you using only quality keywords? — Perform keyword analysis and ask yourself if you’re targeting a specific set of quality keywords that perform well instead of going after a thousand keywords that are out of your means. You may do better with less competitive, long-tail keywords, especially if your website is new.
- Is your website correctly optimized for lead generation and conversions? — Landing pages, marketing offers, and calls-to-action should be well-optimized for generating leads and sales.
- Are you using optimized website URLs? — URLs should be short, relevant, and contain your keyword or phrase. Be sure to employ SEO-friendly URL syntax practices.
- Is your website structure optimized for search? — Web pages should be internally linked to other pages on your website for faster indexing by search engines.
- Are your landing page URLs optimized? — Check if the landing page URL includes the target keyword or phrase.
- Is your website well-indexed? — Ensure your robots.txt file doesn’t instruct web crawlers not to crawl your site. A sitemap also helps your site get indexed properly.
Google drives 75% of search traffic, followed by Baidu at 10% and Bing at 2%. Google Search is also one of the most popular mobile apps in the United States. NetMarketShare
Local SEO Audit
- Check your Google search results. — Are your search results what you expect? If not, you may need to tweak your on-page and on-site SEO.
- Is your business listed on Google Places? — Many potential consumers will look for resources like you close to home.
- Is your business information accurate and up-to-date? — Be sure to check phone numbers, email addresses, and store hours. The latter is very important as we approach the holiday season.
- If you have more than one location, are they all listed? — Be sure to list all your business locations, including contact details and the respective Google Maps info.
- Are your store hours listed and current? — Not listing your hours is a persistent error in most listings. Make sure this info is correct, and the same everywhere, including your social networks.
- Are your customer reviews listed and current? — Many potential consumers will want to know more about your products and services before making any purchasing decisions.
This aspect of a comprehensive website audit helps you align your business website and content with your overall marketing strategy. If you are regularly publishing content on your site or blog, I recommend that you run this part of our comprehensive website audit every 90 days.
Purpose and Intent
- Have you defined whom your website will serve? — Align your website and content with your target audience expectations.
- Have you defined “how” your website will serve your audience? — Determine the actions your online visitors are most likely to take, and ensure your site supports those actions and intents.
- Do you have a compelling marketing message on your site tailored to the audience that you want to serve? — Are you telling your audience what they want or need to know?
- Is your opt-in offer prominently displayed on your website? — Make sure your opt-in is simple, effective, and prominent on your pages.
- Does your opt-in offer solve ONE problem for one type of person you want to attract to your site? — One size does not fit all in this instance. Make sure to micro-target your offers for better results.
Great content is table stakes these days. We’re past the age where if you build it, they will come. You have to have some sort of promotional program in place. Ann Handley
Marketing Goals and Objectives
- Have you created multiple funnel paths to turn your visitors into email subscribers? — Not all online visitors will follow the same journey of conversion.
- Do you have a plan in place to drive traffic and visitors to your website? — Initially, only you know about your website. You can change that by implementing a robust blogging strategy combined with organic SEO and search engine marketing.
- Do you have a system in place to track visitor behavior and interactions on your site? — You simply can’t optimize the performance of your website if you don’t know what’s going on. Using tools like Google Analytics and Hotjar will tell you what you need to know.
- Have you clearly defined the results that you want your website to produce? — Be sure to establish realistic goals for your business website, including performance indicators to measure and track your results.
- Connect your lead generation/capture system to your website to site to collect email addresses. — If you are using third-party functionality like Mailchimp or Salesforce, be sure to connect them to your website, and test to make sure it is working.
The Next Steps in Your Comprehensive Website Audit
This fact always amazes me! Business owners spend a lot of money on building their new website. Like a kid before Christmas, they can barely wait to get it live. And just like many kids at Christmas, they lose interest soon afterward! Planned updates become less frequent. Blogging falls by the wayside. And website performance and results start to decline. Slowly at first, but that will soon change for the worse. If only there were something you could do to prevent that.
What You Should Do Instead
Yes, I know! You have lots of other things to do. Such as running your business, increasing sales, landing new clients, and seemingly endless other tasks. But did you know that a well-performing business website will help you with that? Spending time on a comprehensive website audit will provide you with more time to run your business later.
A comprehensive website audit may take hours of your valuable time, but it’s well worth the hard work and effort. When done correctly, it will help you discover obstacles and chokepoints and improve the overall performance and functionality of your business website. If necessary, bring in a third-party reviewer who can offer unbiased opinions and help evaluate your site and content strategy from an expert viewpoint.
Are You Up for the Challenge?
Are you up to the challenge of performing a comprehensive website audit on your business website, e-commerce store, or even your business blog? If you are, then start by using our comprehensive website audit checklist I outlined in this blog post. Or you can reach out to us to run your comprehensive website audit for you!
Here at PixoLabo, we offer a full range of mobile-first business website consulting and design services, including mobile-first web design and development, e-commerce solutions, search engine optimization, brand strategy and design, and business website hosting and maintenance.
Feel free to reach out to us and learn more about our mobile-first business web design services. Our team can run a comprehensive website audit on your website or online store, and pinpoint any obstacles and shortcomings. We are here to help!
We would love to hear your feedback about your own experiences with auditing your business or e-commerce website. How often do you perform a comprehensive website audit? Monthly? Quarterly? Never? What kind of obstacles did you uncover on your site? How did you remove them?
Please leave your comments below so our audience can benefit as well, and grab our feed, so you don’t miss our next post! And help your audience improve their online presence by sharing our tips for running a comprehensive website audit with them.
Thank you! We appreciate your help to end bad business websites, one pixel at a time!