What is a website audit?
A website audit is basically a health check up for your website. Typically, it will cover any technical snags or issues a website could experience that would negatively impact the sites natural search engine rankings. These audits are usually quite forensic and technical, assessing a broad range of factors that include everything from page content optimisation and backlinks to page load speed and mobile friendliness to name a few.
We would recommend every website undergoes an SEO audit before embarking on an SEO campaign. Doing this will ensure your website is in the fittest shape possible to climb the rankings helping maximise the benefit of your SEO and online marketing efforts.
It’s important to bear in mind that the price for an SEO audit will typically cover the analysis and identification of issues to be resolved, but will not include the prices to fix them. Think of it a bit like taking your car for an MOT – at the time of testing, it won’t be known what issues (if any) the car has, so it would not be appropriate to try offering you estimates or quotations until the facts are known. It’s for these reasons that most SEO agencies and professionals will typically carry out their own audits before beginning work for you.
Do I need a website audit?
There are quite a wide range of scenarios where a website audit are needed, ranging from the precautionary and strategic, to the reactive (such as attempting to analyse the cause of a sudden drop in traffic). Our advice though, if you have never had a website audit before, it will be a worthwhile investment.
You’ve experienced a decline in website traffic
A decline in traffic to your site, either sudden or gradually is not a good thing for any website. Most businesses rely on thier organic SEO to bring in a steady stream of new visitors alongside other marketing efforts. If this declines, you will likeyl experience a corresponding decline elsewhere in you online marketing.
There’s always a reason for drops in organic traffic but they may not always be obvious to the website owner. This is why you are always best taking your website to a team who specialise in doing website audits to make sure they spot everything that is important to your site.
To measure the effectiveness of your SEO provider
similar to most industries, there are some very skilful SEO professionals out there, but also some who are less so. This is made more complex by the technical nature of SEO itself: it’s hard for a business owner to judge how good the SEO efforts are and where improvements could be made.
It never hurts to get a second opinion via an audit which will often highlight things that may not have been spotted by your existing SEO team. Especially since this is a service you are paying for, at the very least it will help you put an accurate figure on the monthly fee for SEO management and perhaps even offer insights into tasks you (as the website owner) might carry out in parallel to help enhance the results they achieve for you.
Benchmarking your site and performance
Even if you don’t suspect your site is experiencing any issues, a website audit can offer an objective benchmark that will confirm you are enjoying maximum benefit of your SEO and there is little or no room for improvement in some areas.
What do website audits detect?
Websites can experience a wide range of issues, most of which won’t actually be visible with the browser – but search engines will see and website audits will detect. In our experience, newly build websites will always include some (or all) of the following:
‘Hidden’ test pages users cannot see or navigate to on the site, but which search engines will find and index. These are usually used when testing the site, testing the comments or user feedback functionality. Search engines will index this and list it in search if it is not removed altogether, which will have a negative impact on rankings if not addressed.
Some page meta data not being completed on important pages (such as titles and meta tags). This is typically due to the wide range of page types a website has and a consequence of how CMS systems such as WordPress work. In some cases, it may be necessary to install a separate plugin to allow you (as the website owner) full control over all pages titles and meta tags. This is the type of thing a website user will not know to ask for and – as a result – is never offered.
‘Thin’ content can occur when you have a page that is only a few sentences that are not helpful to the end user. Typically these will be pages of 100 words or less and including these will actually hurt your SEO and rankings. Our advice with these is to either consider (1) Expanding on the content and making it more usful and longer or (2) If you have a few pages like this, bringing them together under one roof (such as bringing all questions together under an ‘FAQ’ section)
Content spam can happen in a number of ways, only some of which are deliberate. If users comment on your website, leave poorly written comments to link on other wbesites, this will negatively impact your site. Especially if any of these comments are from spambots trying to sell thier wears. Some comment spam can be hard to find as it may occur on a page deep with your website, in some cases, for pages that are not navigable by browser.
Domains, redirects and non-canonical issues. It’s not very well understood by website owners, but search engines will treat www.yourdomain.com and yourdomain.com as two separate and unrelated websites. If you do not have a 301 redirect from one of these to the others, you will get 2 ‘half listings’ (as each domain may be given half your websites content, leaving both incomplete in the eyes of search engines), rather than 1 highly visible listing. This same issue can exist between http and https which means you now have (potentially) 4 separate domains you need to manage from the one:
Typically, sorting this will beyond the scope of work you have asked your web developer to do, as this is really in the remit of SEO. AS with the ‘thin’ content, because you wern’t aware of this, in all likelihood, you’ve never asked.
Some good tools for website health checks
Fortunately, there are some great tools out there for free which can give you the basic feedback. We recommend every website owner using Google Webmaster Tools – it’s completely free and will even allow you to resolve some of these issues (such as the domain / non canonical issues)
Google Analytics is a vital tool that every website owner should use, it can give you both real time and historic statistics about your visitors, their behaviour (including traffic funnels, lead tracking, split testing and more). While the advanced features get quite technical, the basics are easy to use making this an invaluable tool for every website owner and marketeer.
If you have never had a website audit carried out and would like us to take care of this for you, why not get in touch with our team today?