A website audit helps you identify site performance issues, gain consumer insights, and collect objective data to help you make informed decision when rebuilding your website or developing an online marketing campaign.
To help you perform a website audit more effectively, I have provided three components you should consider:
1. SEO performance. Determine whether your website is optimized for search results. According to Search Engine Watch, the top ranking website on search results generates 33% of total organic traffic while the tenth spot gathers roughly 2.4%. These stats demonstrate the importance and benefits of achieving high search ranking.
Here’s how you can audit your SEO performance:
- Check whether you are using Meta Description. Although Meta Descriptions have minimal impact on actual search rankings, meaningful and relevant descriptions still help Google determine whether your webpages are pertinent to specific search queries.
- Determine whether your images have Alternative Text (Alt Text). Alt Text provides semantic descriptions of your images which helps Google identify what your image is about. For example, if you use “social media marketing” as the Alt Text of an image, Google will know that the image is about social media marketing. This helps Google rank the image for relevant keywords on Google Images.
While Alt Text is beneficial to improving your search ranking, don’t stuff keywords. If your image is of the new iPhone 6, use “iPhone 6” or “Apple iPhone 6” as the Alt Text. Don’t write “Apple iPhone 6 iPhone products Apple products iPad tablets.” If Google catches you stuffing keywords, it’ll penalize you by lowering your search ranking.
- Examine your website speed. Site speed affects your search ranking because it impacts the user experience.
To analyze your site speed performance, use tools such as Pingdom or Google PageSpeed Insights. These tools rank your site speed performance out of a score of 100 so you can compare your results with competitors.
- Check whether you’re using responsive web design. According to Mashable, responsive web design is technologies that “use media queries to figure out what resolution of device it’s being served on. Flexible images and fluid grids then size correctly to fit the screen. If you’re viewing this article on a desktop browser, for example, try making your browser window smaller. The images and content column will shrink, then the sidebar will disappear altogether.”
Responsive web design is now an industry best practice, according to Search Engine Watch, because it delivers superior usability and is easier to organize content, index, and crawl. Consequently, Google prefers responsive websites over mobile-only sites, which requires Google to index multiple versions of the website, and ranks them higher on mobile search engines.
2. Social Media performance. Evaluate whether your website is optimized for social sharing. Here’s how:
- Determine whether you’ve included social sharing buttons such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn on your website. According to Jeff Bullas, an easy-to-share “Share on Facebook” or “Share on Twitter” button boosts content sharing by 700% because readers are more likely to share content they like if you make it easy for them to share.
Social sharing also positively correlates to improving search ranking, according to Search Engine Land.
- Check to see whether you’ve implemented Facebook Login Button on your website to let visitors comment on your blogs using their Facebook accounts. This feature helps you increase online exposure because when a reader leaves a comment on your article, his Facebook friends will see the comment on their News Feeds.
- Check to see whether you are using rich snippets. This is additional information that emphasizes the content of a webpage. Rich snippets display information such as photos, reviews, date of publication, number of pageviews, and category (e.g. recipe) on search results. This helps increase the click-through rate because rich snippets let your target audience that your content delivers what they are looking for.
3. Website traffic performance. Analyzing your web traffic helps you gain insights on your audience and evaluate your current marketing tactics. Here’s how you can evaluate your web traffic:
- Segment your traffic geographically. Identify the amount of traffic that comes from targeted cities or regions. If you discover that a majority of your visitors is coming from cities outside of targeted areas, adjust your marketing tactics so you attract visitors from targeted cities.
- Segment your traffic in terms of traffic source (e.g. organic or social). This segmentation helps you determine which online channels deliver optimal results. For example, you may discover that Twitter and Linked ads generate more sales than AdWords pay-per-click campaigns. Discovering this information helps you invest your advertising dollars more wisely.
- Determine the number of pageviews per blog visit over time. This number shows the increase or decrease in audience engagement. For example, if readers’ average pageviews per blog was 2.4 in February 2014 and only 1.3 now, it likely means that your audience finds your articles less intriguing. In this case, you would research and find out what kind of topics your audience wants to read so you can cater your content to their interests.
By using the three tactics above to perform a website audit more effectively, you can identify issues with your SEO, website traffic, or social media performance. The identification of these issues will help transform your site into a more SEO- and user-friendly website.
Author: Ray Wang