Getting a website is relatively easy. You buy the domain, get hosting, design the site (or get someone creative to do it for you), and launch! In that moment, the site is beautiful, perfect, and you think it’ll last forever – your mark on the online world. You’re even sure that Google will love it!
Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
The internet is full of rules, and everything, from the search algorithm to the code on your site’s server, is constantly evolving. If you don’t keep up with these rules, you get penalised. People stop visiting you. Eventually, your site might even break down for good.
So, how do you prevent this catastrophic failure?
If you chose to work with an experienced hosting and design team who can manage your server and website, you’re likely in good hands. If not, then it’s time for a change, and the best place to start is a website audit.
What is a Website Audit?
Think of a website like a car. It’s spectacular when it comes off the assembly line, drives like a dream, and has all the features you could hope for. Unfortunately, if you don’t take care of it, replace broken or outdated parts, and keep it serviced, it will break down on you.
The same goes for a website. WordPress is updated at least twice a year and Google continuously updates its search algorithm. New coding standards are introduced relatively frequently, and even your fantastic site might soon be relegated to the internet’s dumpster bin.
A website audit means taking testing your site to see how it measures up against the new rules – and there are many new rules. For example, Google recently introduced Core Web Vitals. Many sites that used to perform well now receive poor design, loading, and usability scores. As a result, their SEO and search rank results are impacted.
How Does a Website Audit Work?
The first and most important thing to know about a website audit is that it isn’t easy or quick. It’s an in-depth evaluation of your entire site and its code, content, design, UX, and back-end. Typically, the auditor will go through every page, plugin, and code snippet to make sure everything works the way it should. A website audit is comprised of several different minor audits:
The technical audit checks how “healthy” your website is. It aims to answer questions such as:
- Are there any crawl errors?
- Are there lost pages or 404 errors?
- Does the site contain HTTP errors?
- Is the site secure and correctly certified?
- How fast does the site load?
- Is there a sitemap, and is it submitted to Google?
- Is the website mobile friendly?
- Are there any duplicate content or meta details?
- Is the PHP version updated?
- Are there any tracking errors?
These are the type of issues that are easy to miss, especially if you don’t understand the technical aspects of how web design works. The situation is further complicated because of the number of designers who don’t stay updated with the latest coding rules, developments, or search algorithm changes.
SEO and Content Audit
Once you know that the website is working the way it should technically, it’s time to check the content.
Most people know that search engine optimised (SEO) content is vital for any successful site. However, the way engines like Google interpret and assign value to that content also changes somewhat regularly.
- Are you using accurate short and long-tail keywords?
- Are you cannibalising keywords?
- Is your site updated regularly?
- Can the site be trusted?
- Is the information relevant and informative?
- Do you perform keyword stuffing?
- Are headings used correctly?
- Are there simple errors, like spelling and grammar mistakes?
- Have the images or visual content been optimised?
There are hundreds of ranking factors used by Google to evaluate your site.
User Experience (UX) Audit
The UX audit is typically one of the most overlooked audits, but it can also be one of the most valuable. Your site might seem to work well and contain relevant content, but that doesn’t automatically mean that it’ll result in conversions. The most important metric here is the “bounce rate;” that is, how quickly people leave your website after arriving.
Many things could result in a poor user experience:
- Do you have too many tabs visible on your main menu?
- Is it challenging to navigate your website?
- Are some of your pages too hard to reach? People don’t want to click more than three times to get the info they need.
- Is there a straightforward and easy way to get back to the homepage?
- Is there a search function?
- Have you made it hard to contact you? Visible social icons, clickable phone numbers, and clear email addresses are critical.
- Do you have a full-screen popup that disrupts the experience?
If people don’t like using your website, they’re more likely to leave even if you have the content, services, or products they want.
What if I Don’t Do An Audit?
Penalties. Poor domain authority. Lower SERP ranking. Blacklisted domain. These are all possible consequences of a badly designed and maintained website. Search engines will penalise you and possibly blacklist your domain entirely. At that point, your goose is relatively cooked.
Older websites are especially at risk. Why? Because the rules used to be very different. Black Hat SEO practices like link farming, keyword stuffing, backlink purchasing, and cloaking were extremely common. While they did a great job back then, they’re not looked upon so fondly today.
It’s not just the front-end that suffers, but the back-end as well. Your server will start slowing down, leading to poor loading times and lower search rankings. Scripts, unoptimised code, and even custom fonts can slow your site down.
An audit will help identify those problems so you can get your site working like a well-oiled machine again.
Why Should I Have to Pay for An Audit?
With so many free tools available online, you may be wondering why you need to pay for a thorough audit of your website. After all, it’s as easy as popping your domain into a bar, pressing enter, and waiting for the results.
Remember when we said that your site is like a car? If there’s a problem with your expensive ride, you could do research to determine what the issue is. Even if you do, you’ll still need an experienced mechanic to double-check your results and do the repairs.
Yes, online audit tools can give you reasonably accurate results and valuable insights into your site’s performance. However, they’re also generic reports that can be confusing or misleading if you don’t have the technical knowledge to understand the possible problems and implement fixes.
Bias is also a problem. You love your site, and you don’t want a stranger to poking around under the hood. Unfortunately, the only way to remove bias from the equation is to have a professional third-party conduct the audit.
How Do I Get Started? A Free Minor Audit
We understand that doing a full audit might be too daunting or too expensive, especially if you’re not even sure that you need it. That’s why Vukawanele offers a free minor audit that includes a:
- High-level technical audit that identifies whether there are loading issues, broken links, or crawl errors.
- Google Core Web Vitals analysis to see if your site scores well against the newest ranking factors.
- High-level content audit to identify any SEO-related issues.
Our minor audit will give you a good idea of whether you need to consider a full audit of your website and, possibly, repairs or a design overhaul. Do you want to know how your website scores?