A website audit helps you systematically and comprehensively analyze your website’s health, strengths, weaknesses, and underlying problems. It is essential before any major overhauling, re-designing, or expansion of your website.

However, you can conduct an audit even if you are not planning any significant changes to your website to ensure that it is optimally functional and serves its purpose, i.e., attracting leads and ranking well for the intended keywords.

In many cases, a comprehensive audit expands beyond the scope of a website’s visual elements and essential functionalities and may also include competitor/peer websites for comparison and recognition of what’s working and what’s not.

Website Audit Elements

There are four core website elements that you have to address when conducting a website audit.

1. Technical – How It Works

The technical dimension of a website audit is everything pertaining to your website’s functionality, and you can expand it to include security as well. Page loading speeds, mobile responsiveness, SSL/TLS certificate issues (like expiration), JavaScript problems, etc. These are crucial aspects of a website to be considered and fixed/improved if needed because they influence how your users interact with your websites and how search engines rank them. Slow pages can cause users to bounce off your website, and expired certificates may cause search engines to rank you lower than your competitors. 

2. Design – How It Looks and Feels

Design elements, including User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX), cover everything from aesthetics to the navigability of your website. This website audit element leans more toward users than search engines and should be conducted with user behavior in mind. A long sales funnel may not necessarily come up on an audit, but it is less likely to convert a lead for you. 

3. SEO – How It’s Seen By Search Engines

Search Engine Optimization or SEO is to improve how search engines like Google and Bing evaluate and rank your websites. SEO has significant overlap with other audit elements, especially technical and content. The goal of an SEO audit should be to identify where your website is lacking in this dimension.

4. Content – How It’s Populated

Lastly, the content itself, how it’s structured, how useful it is, and how it’s linked to both internal and external sources can influence your website’s SEO. Your site’s content also impacts your SERP rankings and how your target audience finds your business, products, or services.

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How To Conduct A Website Audit Step-By-Step

If you plan to conduct your website’s internal audit, you can follow the simple steps below:

1. Understanding The KPIs

Some of the most common (and impactful) Key Performance Indicators or KPIs of a website audit are:

Bounce rate: The percentage of visitors who leave the website after viewing only one page.

Conversion rate: The segment of total website visitors who complete a desired action like a purchase, download, or contact.  

Organic traffic: Target audience segment that lands on the website through search engine results.

Mobile responsiveness: The ability of the website to adapt to different screen sizes and devices.

Page Load Time: How long it takes for an average website page to load across different devices.

Broken Links: Number of links on the website that lead to nowhere. 

Accessibility: How easily are people with certain disabilities able to navigate your website?

There are several other KPIs, including security, user engagement, server uptime, session duration, and compliance, that a comprehensive website audit may consider. It differs from business to business and website to website.

2. Identify (and Use) The Right Website Audit Tool(s)

Website audit tools can help you conduct a thorough website audit. These tools come in different forms and offer different levels/scopes when it comes to website auditing. Some of them focus mostly on SEO aspects, while others shine on technical testing. Some of the best tools are the ones offered by the major search engines themselves, like Google Search Console or Bing Webmaster Tools, since they are fine-tuned to the search engine’s own ranking algorithms. However, there are several promising audit tools (especially for SEO) like Ahrefs SEO Site Audit. Most of these tools are free, and you can choose the right one based on your audit needs, the user-friendliness of the tool, how many audit dimensions it covers, etc. 

Steps three to seven can be taken in the order of your preference.

3. Identify and Evaluate Technical Errors

A website audit tool can reveal technical errors like broken links, expired certificates, responsiveness, page upload time, etc. Most tools may offer you suggestions or ways to fix these issues as well. You can rank them for severity, fixing some of them right away and planning others for a later date, especially if you are already planning an overhaul.

4. Analyze SEO Issues

Many of the SEO problems that come up in a website audit are also classified as technical issues, including improper website mapping (which irritates the crawlers), missing meta details, duplicate content, and 4xx errors. But there are also issues like the quality of backlinks that may be bringing down your website.

5. Identify Design Problems

When you are conducting a design audit, it’s a good idea to use tools developed with User Experience (UX) in mind. These tools, including Google Analytics, help you identify some user behaviors that may reveal insights about your design. Similarly, other tools can help you analyze user behavior on your website in more granular details like pages where visitors stay most/least and what actions they perform.

6. Scrutinize The Content

Apart from the technical/SEO dimension of content audits like linking (internal and external), keywords, and duplicate content, you should also scrutinize them for quality, formatting, and language. If your target audience is extremely diverse and a majority of them use English as a second language, sophisticated language in the content may be a weakness, not a strength. Similarly, if your content is highly technical, converting it into infographics may appeal to more visitors/users.

7. Report

Many website audit tools can generate a comprehensive report, but if you are using multiple tools and have your own custom KPIs based on your business’s needs, you may need to generate your own custom reports as well. A few good practices that can help you are: 

  • Clearly summarizing the findings
  • Prioritize issues and suggestions/fixes
  • Use charts and other graphs
  • Use language appropriate for the target audience (different for executives and IT)
  • Include supporting data

8. (Optional) Competitor Websites

If you are conducting a website audit for a re-design or overhaul, running a comprehensive SWOT analysis of competitor websites can give you a wealth of useful insights. 

Final Words

It’s a good practice to conduct website audits regularly, not just before a major update or overhaul, to ensure that your website is an asset and not a liability. Identifying and fixing any issues your website may have on a regular basis can prevent business loss, lead to a healthy conversion rate, and help you avoid costly overhauls that may come with downtime.