How to Conduct a Comprehensive Website Audit and Why It Matters
A recent report by Forbes magazine estimates that there are over 1.11+ billion websites on the Internet today, and according to SEO company Ahrefs, approximately 96.55% of these websites do not appear in Google Searches, and don’t get organic search traffic at all.
Global data collected and analyzed over a period of many years has often highlighted the indispensable role of organic search traffic for the long-term sustainability of a website. When you consider that 53.3% of all worldwide website traffic comes from organic search, it would be a waste not to take advantage of the huge potential of virtually free, unpaid traffic.
But to appear in Google Search results, it is vital to first understand how its ranking algorithm works. SEO Technology Company SEMRush listed down over 200 factors that influence how your website will be ranked by Google, factors which include whether people clicked on your website in search engine results, how much time they spent on your website, how many pages they visited, if they clicked on any links or filled up any forms, or if they just left the website without doing anything at all.
These factors taken all together will determine whether Google will rank your website amongst the top 1% in your category.
To get to that 1%, or better yet, gain a position in the highly coveted first Search Engine Results Page (SERP), this means that every facet of your website needs to be in tiptop shape – from its aesthetic design, to how easy it is to find information or complete certain tasks, to the quality of content itself, and even technical aspects like how fast web pages, images and videos load, if the website is usable and looks good on all devices, whether the website can be navigated by persons with disabilities, and a whole lot more.
This is why a website audit conducted at least once a year could greatly help in ensuring your website is always primed for success. It’s not enough to just take advantage of free SEO Audit offers, or 14-day free trials of technical & accessibility auditing software. Most likely, these would only give you pieces of a larger puzzle without the benefit of a well-rounded evaluation and assessment of how your website performs against all the factors that matter.
The Holistic Pillars of a Website Audit
Design & Branding
In website marketing, first impressions matter a great deal because 88% of people are unlikely to ever revisit a website that failed to hook them the first time around. It only takes 0.05 seconds for users to form a first impression, and around 94% of first impressions are influenced by a website’s design.
Website design refers to the visual elements of your website – colors, fonts & typography, logos & icons, graphic elements, photos, and more – and how all of these elements come together to form the overall aesthetic.
When evaluating your website’s design, determine if these visual elements are used in a way that achieves balance and harmony. Good web design utilizes page layouts that are clean and uncluttered, and applies the principles of visual hierarchy that gives prominence to the most important information and content on your website.
Evaluating Design also involves determining if the overall aesthetic is reflective of your brand identity. Does your website adequately represent who your company or brand is today? When people visit your brick and mortar stores or offices, will an immediate visual connection be made when they visit your website? Your website is your company’s official representation on the digital space, so it should effectively convey who you are, what you do, what you offer, and your company’s purpose.
Content & Information Architecture
When done right, content on your website can significantly increase engagement rates, and improve the likelihood of users taking appropriate actions like filling up contact forms or adding items to their basket – which, in turn, increases conversion rates, and positively impacts SEO health metrics.
At its bare minimum, assess if your content appears credible and professional. Validate if the information you’re providing is accurate and up-to-date. These matter because poorly written copy and outdated information can result in website abandonment.
Besides assessing your actual content, also consider your website’s Information Architecture. Information Architecture (IA) refers to the general structure of how content and features are organized in a website. A site with an effective and efficient IA makes it easy and simple for users to find what they need. If they want to learn about who you are, they should be able to learn everything about you in the “About” section. If they want to get in touch with you, they should be able to quickly navigate to the “Contact” page without having to scroll endlessly or go through several pages before they find what they’re looking for.
It is estimated that there are now over 5.5 billion Internet users in the world.
That’s 66% of all people on the planet!
Web access has become widely democratized, and for this reason, Internet accessibility for all is no longer just a nice-to-have.
This is why your evaluation process needs to also consider if your website will work for all people regardless of which device they’re using, their browser, where they’re located, or the speed of their Internet connection. It should also be usable for people who may have auditory, cognitive, neurological, physical, speech, or visual disabilities.
The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone, regardless of disability, is an essential aspect.Tim Berners-Lee, Inventor of the World Wide Web, Founder of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)
Search Engine Discoverability
You may have a beautifully designed website with amazing content, but if search engines like Google can’t find it, all the time and investment you’ve poured into it could go to waste.
Search engines find websites by systematically browsing the world wide web and visiting millions of web pages through a process called web crawling. If your website can be properly crawled, search engines will then begin the process of indexing your website — the process of collecting and storing information from your web pages before adding them to their index (or database) of webpages. As long as search engines are able to properly and correctly index your website, your website now stands a chance of appearing in search results.
There are many simple and free online tools you can use to see if your website is crawlable and indexable by search engines.
But just as importantly, you also need to determine which search topics and keywords your website is actually ranking for. Keep in mind that search engines use bots and AIs to analyze and index website content, which means it does not have the ability to understand the actual context of your content.
The technical performance of your website matters a lot more than you might think. In the era of high-speed internet, and with users having access to endless other sources of information at their disposal, it’s no wonder that websites that take too much time to load can cause people to just abandon a site altogether.
Latest statistics have shown that 53% of mobile website visits are abandoned if pages take longer than 3 seconds to load, and a further 2-second delay pushes that number up to 87%.
Besides how fast (or slow) your website and its elements take to load, your site’s security is another factor to consider. As cyber security threats continue to rapidly escalate, you’ll need to be certain that your website is adequately protected from a wide range of possible vulnerabilities. Does your hosting environment have the ability to detect and deflect malicious attacks? What security protocols are in place to safeguard your company’s and your users’ sensitive data?
Going through the exercise of thoroughly and meticulously analyzing your website can spell the difference between getting a good return on your investment, or seeing all the time and money you’ve invested in building and maintaining your site go to waste. While it is an extensive and rigorous process, it will be worth all the time and effort.
Alternatively, our team of multi-disciplinary specialists can also perform this audit for you. We have seen how our Website Audit process has been very useful in generating real-world facts, data, and insights that have been valuable in sharpening our clients’ website strategies.
Are you ready to take the first step?
Give us a call, or send us an email.