Performing a website audit provides a thorough understanding of what’s working on your website as well as what’s not.
As business changes and grows, marketers must discover every opportunity to engage customers, while vigilantly identifying issues that might be undermining their efforts. Let’s take a look at how auditing your site can help you adapt to new digital marketing opportunities faster than your competitors.
Website audits are sometimes called SEO audits, primarily because the searchability and optimization of your content can have the greatest impact on who finds your website and what they do once they get there.
At it’s most basic level, an SEO audit will help determine how far up in search results your website appears for certain search terms or keywords. If you already have a list of keywords you want to rank for, a website audit will show you where you are compared to your competitors.
In addition to analyzing the performance of keywords you know you want to rank for, a good SEO audit can also reveal other search terms you don’t know about that are bringing users to your site. This type of information can be extremely valuable as it gives you a direct window into what searchers are looking for and helps you align what you offer to their needs.
Finally, an SEO audit will reveal technical issues which may be hurting your site. These include broken links, duplicate content which can compete against itself in search results, missing meta tags, underperforming pages that visitors abandon quickly, pages which load too slowly and more.
Closely tied to your SEO audit is your content audit. Once you get a clear picture of where your website is ranking for certain keywords and what other keywords are bringing people to your site, you’ll want to make sure the content is optimized to capture this valuable traffic.
The first part of your content audit involves analyzing specific pieces of content on your site and making sure they contain the right information so that users find your page early on in search results.
In the early days of the web, this simply meant making sure the keyword you wanted to rank for appeared a certain number of times on your page. Nowadays, search engines are more sophisticated and determine what a given piece of content is about by looking at a number of other factors, including the length of the content, semantically related search terms and engagement factors, such as how long visitors remain on the page and how many other sites link to your page.
Metadata and Schema
Another component of the content audit is making sure the right labels and tags are in place to help search engines index your page so people can find you easily. This is typically done through metadata, custom content that helps your page stand out in search results. Properly crafted, meta descriptions and meta titles can deliver promises to searchers and entice them to choose your page over all the rest.
A second type of metadata that can help your content stand out in search results is schema. These are particular types of data fields or markups which can help optimally display your content in different search results and applications. If you are an e-commerce website, for instance, the right schema can display the price of your products, how many you have in stock and user ratings, all factors which will help you stand out in search results and give users the information they need to buy from you.
Perhaps the most important part of a website audit involves how information is being fed to users across various devices and applications. In the early days of the web, businesses could pretty much guarantee that everyone looking at their website would have the same experience and see the same things. Since the advent of smart phones, tablets, and similar devices, however, sites beautifully designed for desktop screens became unreadable and unusable as they were crammed to fit into displays only a few inches across.
The first part of a design audit involves making sure the framework of your web design is responsive. Simply put, this means structuring it in blocks which automatically resize and stack to respond to different displays so that your website’s usability and design stay intact on any device.
While most design audits focus primarily on the responsiveness of a website’s design, another increasingly important concern is a websites adaptability. This is a more complicated type of audit and involves determining whether or not basic information and content from your site can be combined, customized and personalized for users in other devices and applications.
It’s one thing to have content blocks displayed beautifully on a user’s tablet, but it’s much more powerful when a block of generic content can be replaced by information specifically targeted to that user. This could be a list of events taking place in a user's area rather than huge listing of events appearing everywhere, or new content related to content the user was looking at during an earlier visit and selected based on past interest or behavior.
Making your website truly adaptive takes a more focused type of approach called content engineering. This approach ties together content strategy, production, development and design to create a rich and personalized user experience that meets the user wherever they are, even beyond your website.
A comprehensive website audit will not only make sure your current site isn’t hindering your marketing efforts, it will also help take full advantage of all the opportunities to engage customers in an ever-expanding digital world.