Is your website in need of an update? In this easy-to-follow roadmap, you’ll learn how to audit your website, what questions to ask and what to with the results – it’s time to get your website working for you!
Raise your hand if any of this sounds familiar:
- Your website is working well-ish… but it’s not something that gets you really excited
- You feel like you could be optimizing your website more but you aren’t sure what that means or where to start
- Your site is effective enough but you feel like it could be doing more for your business
- You want to make some changes to your site but you don’t want to change the ‘wrong’ thing
The good news? You’re not alone. These worries and concerns are all too common when it comes to evaluating our website’s functionality and supportiveness. We know it could be better but we aren’t sure where to start or what to change.
Enter: The Website Audit.
Think of this as an all-encompassing process to help you pinpoint the gaps in your website’s functionality, design, technology, SEO and user-friendliness so that you can make next-right decisions with confidence.
IN THIS ARTICLE
→ What is a website audit?
→ Why do an audit in the first place?
→ How often do you audit your site?
→ What are the types of website audits?
→ Before you begin auditing, do this
→ The internal website audit
→ The external website audit
→ What to do post-audit
Let’s define it – what is a website audit?
According to good ‘ole Meriram Webster, an audit is a formal examination of an organization’s or individual’s accounts or financial situation.
With that in mind, a website audit is the process of evaluating the effectiveness of your internal and external website experience. I say both internal and external because what happens behind the curtain is just as important as what your visitors are experiencing on the front end. Both work together to provide a website that works for your business. And, if either one is underperforming or not supporting you, it will affect your business overall.
Why do an audit in the first place?
Auditing your site (and then making the updates) can improve the overall functionality so its more supportive of your business and and its goals. Additionally, a website audit can:
- Improve your ranking in search
- Increase website conversions
- Make it easier for your to use your website
- Bring more ease into your marketing
- Enhance the user experience of your website
How often do you audit your site?
The annoying answer? It depends.
It depends on what your goals are for your website and whether or not they’re being achieved. If your website is underperforming or not supporting your business, it makes sense to do an audit. Because the goal of an audit is to measure the effectiveness of your site, the frequency of conducting them will be dependent on how effective your site is.
But also, we recommend doing a once-over at least once per year. Business, goals, visions, KPIs change over the course of 12 months – the business you have today will likely look differently 6, 9 or 12 months from now, so an audit is a good way to ensure your website is truly supporting your business.
What are the different types of website audits?
There are a million different ways to slice the audit pie but I like to think of website audits falling into four distinct categories, based on what they’re meant to measure. Sometimes it makes sense to cherry pick a certain type of website audit based on what you specifically want to accomplish. Other times, it makes sense to do a more comprehensive audit that digs into the four buckets simultaneously (which is what we’ll be covering today).
The content audit analyzes the effectiveness of the content on your site. This isn’t just blog posts but rather, all the external elements of your site. Think images, copy, page layout and design.
The technical audit is all about measuring how your website is functioning from a technical perspective. It looks at things like website platform, plugins, integrations and sitemap.
The SEO audit looks at the effectiveness of your website through the lens of search engine optimization. Your wanting to see how optimized your site is to perform well in search engines so you look at keywords, page speed, sitemap and page markup.
The user-experience audit measures the effectiveness of a website based on user-experience. You’re looking at how user-friendly your website is and things like navigation, page speed, design, flow and intent are at the forefront.
Before you begin auditing, do this
If the goal of a website audit is to measure its effectiveness, you kinda first need to know what the website is supposed to do in the first place. Meaning you need something to measure against.
This is that point in the blog post where we talk about the importance of having a website strategy.
What’s that, you say?
Your website’s strategy is the game plan for your website and includes what specifically it needs to do in order to effectively support your business and its goals.
At a minimum, you need to know the answers to these six questions. This will give you a solid baseline to start from and conduct your audit against.
- What is the primary goal of my website?
- What are the secondary goals of my website?
- Who is my website trying to attract?
- How does my website fit into my customer’s journey?
- What pages will be on my website and how do they work together?
- What is the optimal flow I want a visitor to take when engaging with my website?
Phase one: the internal website audit, aka behind-the-scenes
We break the audit into two distinct phases – the internal and the external.
An internal audit evaluates the effectiveness of the behind-the-scenes functionality of your site. In terms of our categories from above, an internal audit includes looking at your tech and your SEO. It’s the stuff that your website visitor can’t necessarily see but it does have an impact on the experience and functionality.
Auditing your website’s tech
The purpose of a tech audit is to confirm that your website technology is effective and supportive. As our business grows, changes and evolves, so too does our technology needs. It’s easy to just add more plugins or integrations without removing or evaluating their effectiveness. The goal is to make sure the technology of your website isn’t a hindrance, but rather, making it easier for your website to support your business and its needs/goals.
The basic questions to ask when looking at the effectiveness of the technology on your site:
- Is the website platform still relevant and supportive?
- Is the website host reliable and user-friendly?
- Are we still utilizing all the plugins that we have downloaded?
- Is there anything that we want to be able to do but aren’t able to currently?
- Is there any information or data that we’d like to see but aren’t able to?
- Do the right people have access to the right areas of our site?
- Are the integrations connected and working properly?
- Is our website optimized for mobile?
- Does our site structure make sense?
- Are our images optimized for page speed and user friendliness?
Auditing your website for SEO
The goal of an SEO audit is to measure how well your website is performing within search engines like Google and Bing. There are paid tools like AHREFs, SEMRush and UberSuggest that will analyze your site but you can also utilize free options to get a pretty good idea of how your website is performing in search. If you’re looking for a more thorough SEO audit process, check out this blog post from Wordstream.
The basic questions to ask when looking at the effectiveness of your website’s SEO:
- Is Google Analytics and Google Search Console connected and working properly?
- How does your website perform in regards to speed? Google’s page speed insights is a great (and free!) tool.
- How are your website’s Core Web Vitals?
- What words are you currently showing up for in search? Google Search Console is a great (and free) tool that shows you this information.
- Are there keywords that you would like to rank for but aren’t currently?
- What content or pages are driving the most traffic from search?
- How long are people staying on your website? What pages do they stay longer on and which ones do they bounce from quickly?
- Is each page optimized with the correct heading tags, meta descriptions, URL structures and image alt tags?
- Are there any broken links or page errors that we need to update?
Phase two: the external website audit, aka forward-facing
The external audit evaluates the forward-facing website, specifically how the content and the user experience is performing. This is the stuff that your website visitor can very much see and also has a big impact on their experience and the overall functionality of your site.
Auditing your website’s content
The purpose of a content audit is to measure the effectiveness of what you actually have on your site. Over time, it can be easy to lose track of everything you have on your website, especially if you’re not updating it on a regular basis. The goal of auditing your content is to make sure the content you have is reflective of where your business is at today and consistent with your current brand standards.
The basic questions to ask when looking at your website’s content:
- Is the website copy easy to read and understand, and aligned with your brand’s voice/personality?
- Are the colors consistent and cohesive, and aligned with the brand standards?
- Are the images styled and edited in a similar manner, and aligned with the brand standards?
- Are the calls-to-action consistently styled, and aligned with the brand standards?
- Is it clear who your content is for and/or trying to target?
- Are the calls-to-action clear and easy-to-understand?
- Are there any ‘dead-ends’ at the bottom of a page?
- Is the website easy to navigate?
Auditing your website’s user experience
The purpose of a user experience audit is to analyze the user-friendliness of your website. At the end of the day, your visitors are the ones who need to be able to easily navigate your website and if that’s not the case, then your website isn’t doing you any favors. The goal of looking at user experience is to make sure your website is easy to understand, easy to navigate and easy to use for your right audience.
The basic questions to ask when looking at the user-friendliness of your website:
- Is the website and its information useful?
- Is the website and its information easy to use?
- Is the website and its information desirable?
- Is information on the website easy to find?
- Is the website and its information accessible?
- Is the website and its information credible?
- Is the website and its information valuable?
What to do post-audit
Congratulations, you made it! You’ve done the work and have a clear picture of how your website is performing when it comes to content, tech, user-experience and SEO.
This is often when you get to the ‘to redesign or update’ fork on the road.
Sometimes the ‘what needs to be fixed’ list is a lot longer than the ‘what’s working’ list, so it makes the most sense to bring in a design partner to redesign the entire website. The benefit of this option is that you’re able to approach the project with clarity on what you need and want the website to do in order to be most effective for your business. This will help you find the right partner to collaborate with and bring more clarity to the entire project from the start.
If the list doesn’t feel too overwhelming or includes tasks that you or your team can complete with relative ease, I like to organize the to-dos into two parts: what’s most pressing and what’s easiest? Because it doesn’t need to be tackled all in one sitting. The goal is to take steps every day towards creating a consistent and cohesive brand and website that you’re excited and confident to share. Remember, be patient and keep moving forward.
All my best,
Additional website resources
This ultimate guide to website strategy will walk you through how to create a plan for your site so that it can effectively support your business and its goals.
This post walks you through the three key steps to help you prepare for a website redesign.
Looking to redesign your website but overwhelmed by all the options? This post shares five tips for finding your organization’s right website design partner.
Pin for later!