Whether you’re a big or small business, your website may be in desperate need of some TLC to ensure it’s running smoothly and scoring you plenty of leads and sales. A website audit highlights what needs to be done to outrank your competitors and convert customers successfully.
Website audits can also be known as 'SEO audits' or 'technical SEO audits' which focus on the SEO health and strength of your website, but they can also cover components such as UX and web development. For the purpose of this article I'm going to focus on the technical SEO aspects (but there's some natural cross over with UX and development too).
If you're interested in finding out more about "why website performance matters", take a moment to also read this article.
What is a website audit?
A website audit involves analysing a website’s performance to identify any issues affecting its quality, performance and speed which could have a negative impact on online visibility.
Part of a website audit requires crawling it in order to assess its health. This crawl can highlight broken links, duplicate content, non-indexable pages and other issues which can later be fixed with follow-up actions.
So, why do a website audit?
A specific SEO-focused website audit is designed to improve the health of your site in order to perform better in search engines, as well as ensure users have a good experience once they get there.
It’s important for businesses to maintain good visibility online whilst also ensuring that their website is fully functional and easy for visitors to use so the value of audits shouldn't be under-estimated.
Here’s some of the top reasons why you should consider hiring an agency to complete a website audit:
1. To properly optimise your website
A technical SEO audit will help you to discover opportunities to optimise your website, improving visibility, traffic and sales. Common issues which can be amended if identified are:
- Poor content - your content should be fresh and relevant with copy written to a high standard to avoid falling down the search engine results page (SERP). You may need to remove old content or direct users to the right page.
- Images without alt attributes - by adding tags to your images, search engines can understand what the image is, even if the rest of your content loads before it.
- HTTP - having a HTTP opposed to a HTTPS website is seen as less secure and this can cause loss of rankings and trust from users. Google began encouraging sites to switch to HTTPS in 2010 as it is an encrypted version which helps to prevent cyber attacks and privacy breaches.
- Irrelevant meta data - meta titles and descriptions are irrelevant or not unique enough. They should contain the right keywords and be distinct from your (and other’s) pages.
- Poor mobile responsiveness - your site needs to be mobile friendly as many of your visitors will be accessing your site through a mobile device rather than just a desktop. Google announced in 2020 that they were switching to mobile-first indexing (although it’s something they’d been working on for a few years).
- Poor URL structures - it’s important for all of your pages to have URL structures which are simple, contain target keywords and don’t contain too many parameters (also known as query strings). These are commonly seen on large ecommerce sites where extra information is added to the URL to sort and specify products.
- Broken links - internal and external links serving 404s need to be fixed or redirected to the relevant page. What good is a blank page for a user?
- Pages which aren’t indexable - if your pages aren’t indexable, search engines won’t be able to crawl your site to rank them, and, consequently, customers won’t find you.
2. To prevent penalisation from search engines
You may not have heard of ‘black hat’ SEO but your website could contain some frowned upon techniques to trick search engines. Black hat SEO is essentially a disapproved practice of applying techniques which go against search engine guidelines in an attempt to rank high on the SERPs. Black hat SEO can include:
- Keyword stuffing (overusing keywords in your content)
- Link schemes or paid links
- Duplicate content (it’s always better to be unique - never copy and paste someone else’s content!)
- Invisible text (keywords will be on the page but you may not see them as they’re typically written in white text against a white background)
- Cloaking - this involves presenting a user with a totally different URL or content to what they were expecting
These are just a few examples of black hat SEO but if your site is found to have them then you could be penalised and see your website’s rank on the SERP drop. It’s much better to detect this on a technical SEO audit than wait for Google to find it!
3. To prepare for algorithm updates
The specifics of algorithm updates aren’t typically announced and so it isn’t always possible to prepare for them. That said, if you are given a ‘heads up’ by Google you should look to take advantage of it and consider a website audit to make some site improvements based on what the update is focused on. For instance, Google announced that Core Web Vitals would become part of their algorithms in 2021 which will include signals of loading, interactivity and visual stability in their page experience assessment. This Page Experience Update is due to roll out mid June 2021 and you can find out how to audit Core Web Vitals here.
4. To improve your website’s speed
If you have a slow website and page speed or unresponsive pages, you could see your traffic drop, bounce rates rise and an increase in abandoned carts on ecommerce sites. Page speed is a direct ranking factor and will become even more important following Google’s Page Experience Update. According to Google, if a page load time increases from 1 second to 3 seconds, the bounce rate will increase by 32% and if it takes 6 seconds, the bounce rate can increase by a staggering 106% - now that calls for a reason to check your site’s page speed and a technical SEO audit can flag areas to improve this (i.e. if you have images which are too large and contributing to the slow loading time).
5. To outperform your competitors
A website audit will help you to identify your top competitors and understand what online strategies they are adopting themselves. You can run a small audit on competitor sites (including their content, target keywords, paid search activity, social activities and organic search activity) which will give you a clear idea of how your site compares to them and this information can then be used to develop your digital marketing strategy.
What’s the difference between an SEO audit and a PPC audit?
An SEO audit is all about making sure your website has good online visibility and is optimised for search engines as well as fully functional for users (learn how to conduct a technical SEO site audit here). On the other hand, a PPC audit will assess the health of your ad accounts so that you get the most out of your paid media campaigns.
A PPC audit will usually involve the following:
- Keyword analysis to ensure that the right keywords are being targeted
- Ad copy audits to assess the effectiveness and relevance of your ad copy
- Conversion tracking analysis to make sure you’re tracking what matters most and your data is accurate and reliable
- PPC account structure reviews to ensure your accounts are organised and can assess your ad performance easily
- Performance reviews to identify any opportunities for further growth
- Budget reviews and bidding optimisation to ensure that you’re budget is being spent wisely on effective campaigns
- Competitiveness and quality assessment to assess how competitive your ad account is and what is realistic for you to aim for in the market you’re in
- Recommendations to highlight what strategy will boost your PPC campaign efforts including any trends or opportunities you could take advantage of in your ad platforms to stay ahead of the game
How much does a website audit cost?
How much a website audit will cost can vary depending on the scale of your website and the level of experience the agency undertaking the work has. A technical audit may be performed as part of an agreed project, in which case, your agency or SEO team will develop the best strategy so that issues which are most likely to impact your website’s performance can be tackled first.
Something you can do is contact a number of agencies who can give you a quote for your website audit but just remember that the cheapest option may not be the right choice. You want to ensure that your website audit is thorough and the audit report is clear to understand. Think about the bigger picture and which agency will be best for implementing changes to your website or offering their expert advice on top of identifying issues.
How often do you need to perform a website audit?
Many businesses will complete a technical SEO audit (for example) between two and four times a year but it will depend on the size of your business. Performing one technical audit won’t solve everything - yes, you might resolve some issues and see short term benefits for your website, but you must remember that these issues can rise again so you need to keep checking the health of your site to keep on top of things.
Performing a website audit can be compared to visiting a dentist - if you don’t go for a check-up, you might have an unknown cavity growing larger and larger as the months pass, until eventually you’ve left it too late and you’re paying a hefty bill to get it fixed; moral of the story? Don’t wait too long to go to the dentist and don’t wait too long to get your website audited.
Need a website audit?
Website audits give you a deep insight into your website and how to improve it, but they can take time and require an expert eye. If you’re looking to improve your website to maximise leads and sales, look no further than Adido! Our website audit services including SEO audits and PPC audits will shine a light on any technical issues and opportunities to boost conversions. Contact us today to see how we can help.