We often get business owners that are doing everything they think they're supposed to with their website- but not seeing the results they expect. Exasperated, they come to us for answers and help. Without fail, the first thing we do is a full website audit. With Google's possible 200 ranking factors, it shouldn't be a shock to why these audits are so important. What exactly, however, are website audits, and why are they so vital to the success of any content strategy or SEO campaign?
What is a Website Audit
A website audit is a full analysis of your website's overall health. We'll get into why you need a website audit in a minute, but first let's go over just some of the things a website audit looks at, and why these things are essential.
There are many types of website audits, the most important (in our opinion) being:
- SEO Audit
- Content Audit
- Competitor Analysis
- Content Gap Analysis
- Full Website Audit (includes all the above)
These audits find issues within the site that can be fixed, and they even find the strengths that we can make better.
4 Ranking Factors a Website Audit Looks at
While there are a lot of ranking factors the audits look at, the ones we always pay special attention to are:
1. Slow Loading Pages
Site speed is a huge ranking factor, according to the powers that be at Google. This ranking factor goes as far back as 2010 when they finally told the world just how vital site speed it. What this means is that Google favors sites that load faster over slow-loading ones. The reason for this is pretty simple- our attention span and lack of patience.
If a website takes too long to load, we're onto the next. Some things that affect sites speed are:
Images with Large File Sizes
The key is to keep all file sizes under 100kb, but we aim for anything under 60kb. Large file sizes take up too much memory and will slow your website down. While we can go through every image this is done in an audit and a great reason why you need a website audit.
Too Many Videos
It's no shock that videos take up a lot of memory and bandwidth. Avoid putting videos in your header or throughout your website. Strategically placed videos are fine but don't overdo it.
As much as we love plugins, some just take up way too much space and slow your page down. Deactivate plugins that you aren't using and get them off your website stat.
2. A Lack of Optimization
For every page on your website, there should be at least one targeted keyword. To be optimized each page needs
- Meta description with the keyword
- SEO title with the keyword
- URL structure with the keyword and
- Optimized content for the keyword(s)
3. Improper Use of Header Tags
While all of these variables matter, there's something about not executing this one correctly that makes our eyes twitch more than the others. Header tags are incredibly important (we don't care about the naysayers)- as they tell the Google bots how to process your page, it's information, and in the correct order. Just another reason why you need a website audit.
Header tags tell crawlers what the site is about. And just like we prefer- there's an order and process to header tags that, if done incorrectly, can negatively affect the ranking of your website. Some of the most common header tag errors our website audit finds are:
Multiple H1 Tags
Every page should only have one H1 tag- as this is what the page is all about. You will use H2' s-H6's as subcategories to that topic.
Improper Header Tag Order
Header tags have a flow of h1-h6. Every page should only have 1 H1, and then the rest of the header tags must go in numerical order. Many designers will use different header tags because of the design aspect, which can harm the SEO of the website.
Header Tags that Don't Tell Google Anything
Use your header tags wisely- and make sure every single header tag is optimized and tells search engines what you're about to talk about.
4. Quality of Content and Keywords
Another big part of a website audit is one that we take the most time looking at- and that's the quality of your keywords (if you even have any) and the content supporting it.
While it might seem easy to pick a keyword- it's a bit more tricky than that. It all depends on your:
- buyer intent
- the buyer journey
- and a lot of data
that tells us if the keyword holds monetary value. And of course, if you are targeting a keyword, the content needs to be optimized for that specific keyword.
Here are just some of the factors we consider when looking at keywords:
- Search Volume: are enough people searching for that service or product?
- Competitiveness: How competitive is that keyword? The more competitive, the more expensive it is to rank for and the longer it takes
- Click rate: Of the people searching for the term- how many are clicking on a site? For example, a lot of search queries are answered by the snippets in that rectangle on SERPs, so no click is required. We want to avoid that.
Cost Per Click: This is how much advertisers are willing to pay per click, per ad. The higher the amount (what "high" equals, depends significantly on the industry), the higher the return on investment.
Next Steps After the Audit is Complete
Once we complete our meticulous and extensive audit of your website- we will have a clear starting point so we can create a plan of action. Almost always we start with cleaning up the site first, then adding new content, then marketing. We want there to be a strong foundation for all marketing and content efforts to start from.
Now that we have answered, in the simplest terms, what a website audit is, let's look at why you need a website audit, to begin with.
Why You Need a Website Audit
Why you need a website audit boils down to why you wouldn't build your home on shifting sand. Because it's unstable, ineffective, a waste of resources, expensive, and in the end, it will just all come crashing down. Let's dig in a bit more on why you need a website audit.
1. Your Website is the Foundation of Your Digital Marketing
Your website is the foundation of all digital marketing efforts from blogs, backlinks, social media marketing, to geo-tagging, location pages, and much more. If the foundation of your website is not stable, no matter how great your marketing efforts are, they will not be nearly as successful as they can be as if you had a strong and solid foundation.
2. Having a Healthy Website Equals Success
Having a healthy and robust website can be the difference from being on page two of search engine results (you know, where dreams go to die) verses page one where your phone doesn't stop ringing.
3. Your Marketing Dollars Will Go Where Most Needed
When we know exactly where your site stands we can all make a better choice on what to do with your marketing dollars. While some companies have an inflated marketing budget, most companies can't do everything at once and have to have direction on where their dollars will be the most useful. Your website audit will tell us exactly what to do.
4. Knowledge is Power
The more you know, the more you grow. And as a content strategy agency, we can't say enough about how important data is and how many vital lessons we can learn from it.
Are You Ready for Your Website Audit?
If so, contact us and mention this blog. We'll give you a 20% discount on your audit.