Diligent students know the value of a midterm test. It’s an opportunity to gauge academic progress, better understand your strengths and weaknesses, and—if necessary—make major improvements before the final. Similarly, diligent ecommerce business owners understand the importance of regular reviews to prevent breakdowns and ensure that things run smoothly. You can assess your website’s performance by conducting a site audit to highlight strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement.
What is a site audit?
A site audit (website audit) is a comprehensive analysis of a website’s overall performance and effectiveness. It involves a systematic review of the entire site, including, but not limited to, technical issues, content quality, user experience, and search engine optimization (SEO) factors.
The primary goal of a site audit is to identify ways to enhance the site’s performance. The findings from a website audit report can help website owners remain competitive online and adapt to evolving trends and technologies. This is especially important for ecommerce companies, which depend on their website to interface with customers.
Key aspects of a site audit
Conducting regular, comprehensive site audits is essential for maintaining an effective website. Here are four critical aspects of site audits, each addressing specific facets of a website’s performance.
Search engine optimization
An SEO website audit examines the factors that impact your website’s visibility on search engine results pages (SERPs). It includes a detailed analysis of on-page SEO elements, such as meta tags (HTML code for search engines), meta descriptions (summary of web page), and keyword rankings, to ensure they align with SEO best practices.
An SEO audit extends to off-page factors, including backlink profiles (link connections pointing to your website) and social media presence. Technical SEO aspects like site speed and responsiveness on mobile devices are also scrutinized to guarantee optimal performance.
To facilitate this process, businesses can leverage free SEO tools. A free SEO audit tool can provide valuable insights into your website’s strengths and weaknesses, helping you refine your SEO strategies. As your needs become more sophisticated, you may then upgrade to a paid SEO tool.
An audit also requires an evaluation of core web vitals—page speed, responsiveness, and interactivity—and underlying website structure to ensure optimal performance. This audit element focuses on factors influencing search engine crawlers (automated web page indexers), user experience, and overall site functionality.
User experience (UX)
During an audit, it’s essential to assess the quality of user experience on your website, analyzing aspects like navigation, page design, content presentation, and interactive features.
The goal is to identify usability issues and opportunities for improvement that impact user interaction and perception. This part of the audit typically involves analyzing user feedback and analytics data and conducting usability testing to pinpoint areas of friction.
Make sure your site appeals to your target audience by assessing its content quality and relevance. This involves categorizing and evaluating all web pages and each piece of content, including articles, blog posts, videos, and images.
Review the accuracy and currency of information, and how it aligns with the target audience’s needs. The aim is to identify outdated or duplicate content, ensuring the material remains current and valuable. A content audit also helps uncover gaps in content coverage and opportunities for creating new, relevant content.
Benefits of a site audit
All websites can benefit from regular site audits. Here are a few key reasons to do so:
- Catch errors. Website audits are designed to catch errors and technical issues that may otherwise go unnoticed, such as broken links or duplicate pages, slow server response times, and other bugs. Detecting and rectifying these errors is not just about maintaining a polished appearance; it ensures optimal functionality and user satisfaction.
- Identify areas for improvement. Website audits identify areas for improvement. Whether it’s optimizing meta tags for better SEO performance, refining content to align with user intent, or enhancing site navigation for improved user experience, an audit can help website owners find opportunities to improve all aspects of their website.
- Keep up with competition. By benchmarking your site against competitors, an audit can reveal where it stands in comparison. This insight is invaluable, informing strategic decisions and highlighting areas where improvements can give a competitive edge. For example, if one of your main competitors offers similar products but no search tool, you can highlight the search functionality on your website, showing customers how they can easily find what they need on your site.
Site audit checklist: How to perform a site audit
- Define objectives
- Use a site audit tool
- Address major errors
- Benchmark against competitors
- Identify areas for optimization
- Monitor the effects
Each website audit is unique and depends on your resources and objectives. Whether you just want to review the basics or do a comprehensive analysis of your site, here’s a checklist for your audit:
Defining objectives provides a clear roadmap for your site audit. Understand the specific goals you want to achieve, such as improving SEO efforts, enhancing user experience, or addressing technical issues.
Use a site audit tool
Employing a reliable site audit tool streamlines the process and can provide valuable insights. Tools like Screaming Frog, SEMrush, Google Search Console, and speed test tools can analyze various aspects of your site, from SEO to technical performance. These tools offer data-driven assessments that serve as a foundation for identifying strengths and weaknesses.
Address major errors
Identify and address technical errors that may impact your site’s performance, including broken pages, slow server response times, or other technical glitches that hinder optimal user experience. Resolving these errors enhances both user satisfaction and search engine rankings.
Benchmark against competitors
Understanding where your site stands vis-à-vis competitors’ pages allows for informed decision-making. Comparing your website’s performance with that of key competitors provides valuable insights into industry standards, competitor strategies, and potential areas for improvement.
Identify areas for optimization
A site audit isn’t just to highlight errors; you can use your audit report to develop strategies to get more viewers, improve conversions, or optimize customer experience. For example, you may pursue a more aggressive SEO strategy, reevaluate your site’s content, or refine navigation elements.
While there are always things to improve, remember that you can’t do everything at once: Consider your findings in the context of your defined objectives and prioritize changes that align with your business goals.
Monitor the effects
Once you’ve had a chance to implement changes, pay attention to the impact these improvements have. Going forward, monitor error reports, SEO rankings, customer satisfaction, and other relevant metrics to determine whether your improvements have had their desired effect.
Site audit FAQ
How often should you conduct a site audit?
How often you conduct a website audit will depend on your business’s goals, industry, and resources. Generally, performing a comprehensive site audit at least once every six months is best.
How long does a site audit take?
A site audit can take anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks, depending on the website’s size and complexity, the audit’s depth, and the audit tools.
Why are site audits important?
Site audits provide website owners and development teams valuable insights into their site’s performance. Audit reports can reveal technical issues and opportunities to improve content, user experience, and SEO efforts.