Website audit tools

How to Conduct a Website Audit: A Beginner's Guide

Introduction

Hello there! This little website audit checklist will get directly to the topic. Why audit your website? Well, checking its health does not need any reasoning behind it. Don’t be misled by Google: the website audit is not only about SEO. It is about design and UX, the lead generation process and ease of administering the website, website content, and interaction with social media (as HubSpot experts consider).

You’ll see what functional areas you can and should improve and learn how to audit your website. This article is written by a content editor for content editors, website admins, and website owners who need to explain to their tech colleagues what’s wrong with their website.

Be lazy—we’ve done half of the job for you!

A little tip before you start

We understand that your website probably has dozens and hundreds of web pages. It’s not possible to check them all at once—you have other things to do after all. Website auditing is important, so you’re in an “either-or” situation: choose up to ten pages that drive your business to its goal (the main page, a contact page, and pages of the most popular products/groups of products) and check them first by yourself or entrust this work to us.

seo

Design and UX audit

Your website design welcomes your users and makes them either leave or stay and do what they came for to your website. A few years ago (human basic psychology has hardly changed since then), Google held research that revealed that it takes a user less than a second to assess the website’s attractiveness. Aditionally, research participants labeled more complex websites as less attractive. What does it all have to deal with proper functioning?

The thing is, a brain prefers thinking of stuff that is easier to comprehend. Forget about complex designs that do not help a website guest. Or lose a newcomer.

Web design audit checklist

Use this checklist to create your own design audit template.

Website audit service
Web design and UX audit checklist
  1. Make it responsive and mobile-friendly. Make sure the website renders well on all devices: users can easily do what they came for on desktops, mobiles, tablets, and so on. 
  2. Your website adheres to the accessibility design requirements — design rules that allow people with impairments to use your website without any problems. 
  3. Web design aligns with the company’s brand book and aesthetic.
  4. Stick to minimalist design. “Less is more” has been the motto of current design for many years now and it is here to stay.
  5. Put the most common elements where the user expects them to be, for example, the logo is in the top left corner, and the shopping cart icon is in the top right. More on cognitive fluency.
  6. Visually, the pages and individual blocks have a uniform style and are proportionate to each other.
  7. Site elements are homogeneous meaning the same elements, such as logo, search box, footer, etc, are identical on every page they appear on.

UX audit checklist

  1. Make sure the very first thing a user sees on your home page is a straightforward description of your company’s services and/or products.
  2. A page structure is easy to distinguish: the title, headers, footer, and content division help a user navigate the page.
  3. No more than 7 or 8 links in the navigation menu. The most important sections come first since users remember the first and last list items well
  4. Сustomize your navigation. The user should be able to get to the most demanded pages from any point on the website.
  5. If appropriate, use breadcrumbs and duplicate the main menu sections as footer links.
  6. Design leads the visitor to CTA links and buttons. These elements should be visually distinctive from others.
  7. The CTA is placed within the first ⅓ of a user’s screen. CTAs should be sparse on the page.
  8. Make sure content density does not discourage the visitor: it should be divided by headings, images that help understand the content and white space. Long text should be paragraphed with a space between paragraphs greater than the line spacing.
  9. The user flow should be very flexible: the user should be able to skip a step, go back to any stage, undo an action, fix errors, and so on. Don’t make your users go through the process again because they’ve made a typo—it’s not user-centric.
  10. The website should immediately check the validity of the data the user has filled in form fields with.
  11. Make canceling certain actions easy and always request confirmation before the user decides to take an action, such as emptying the cart.
  12. After the order is placed, do not leave the user alone. Show them what the next step is and how they can track their order.
  13. Work on your 404 page. It must have links to the main sections of the site and/or search.
  14. There are no dead-end pages. Every page should have links to other pages, even if it’s quick links or a section with recommended products.

If you follow the instructions above, you can see these parameters changing:

  • The bounce rate decreases since the navigation is clear and users understand what to do next.
  • Session duration grows.
  • Users execute the main CTA.

Lead generation process audit

Lead generation process follows the design and UX topic. As we already mentioned in the checklist, the design must help to convert visitors into leads.

Lead generation process audit checklist

  1. A page has a clear call-to-action (CTA) block: a button, a link—whatever converts the best.
  2. No more than 3 calls to action.
  3. The CTA should be visible and reachable for users (for instance, don’t hide a CTA in the footer if your website’s visitors don’t tend to scroll the whole page).
  4. Headings and texts contain keywords and LSI words that you want to rank for: your leads should have the possibility to find you through search engines.
  5. If a website visitors change their mind and leave a particular CTA unfinished (for example, a contact form left half-filled), you should give them another opportunity to dispel a doubt. You can show them a pop-up offering a free consultation/a knowledge base to get into details/asking a reason for leaving. The pop-up is a rather tricky method of communicating with users, but wisely used because it works. Investigate what annoys the website’s visitors, when it’s appropriate to show the pop-up, how much time should pass before the pop-up is shown, etc.
  6. Your website should contain lead magnets — a digital asset or content that is given to users for free in exchange for their contact information. You can provide e-books, checklists, promo codes, trials, and white papers, you name it. 

Just as in the previous block, if you follow the instructions above, users will execute the main CTA. If something hinders them, there should be a tool that helps users complete the action. Conversion will grow, and if it doesn’t, go back to the web design and UX section and check what’s wrong.

Content audit

Let’s assume a page structure is wisely designed and users understand what actions they ought to perform to get what they came for. A menu does navigation work perfectly, and all that is left is to not push the users away with content issues. They do read it, they really do!

Content audit checklist

  1. Content adheres to the page goal: if it is a contact page - content must stick to the ways the user can contact you. It’s a very obvious, yet a very common mistake. Keep the page goal in mind when filling it with content.
  2. Content is logically structured and doesn’t confuse users. Use Jakob Nielsen’s “Inverted Pyramid”: place the most important info first, then proceed with supporting details, and only after all add related information.
  3. No spelling and grammar mistakes.
  4. No extra content: only that drives a guest to CTA.
  5. Review the top-visited and converting pages and refresh the content timely.
  6. Read comments and reply to them: you got to understand how users percept your content and engage them in discussion for the sake of a lower bounce rate.
  7. Likewise, design in general, you should pay attention to content structure and how it’s divided: blocks, bullets, white space, and illustrative pictures.
  8. Use heat maps to check how users interact with content and use Google Analytics to know the average number of visited pages per session.

Content improvement also facilitates the main goal execution: CTAs are being clicked/filled out/completed.

jakob-nielsens-inverted-pyramid
Jakob Nielsen’s “Inverted Pyramid”

SEO audit

search engine optimization part makes your content visible to a wider audience. Without specific terms, there are many technical operations you can do so that your content is found by more and more people. Some changes, like editing headings and the content itself, and inserting links can be implemented without the programmer’s supervision, others require the help of a specialist.

SEO audit checklist

  1. Set up a correct tracking tool to track what’s going on with your website, including its mobile version: keywords, traffic, entrance pages, exit pages, etc.
  2. Put appropriate content tags: title tags, description tags, image tags, and meta tags.
  3. Use keywords and their synonyms in the headings, and in the text itself.
  4. Eliminate broken links on your website.
  5. Make sure your content doesn’t have references to other sources at the very beginning: this way readers won’t leave your website too soon for Google Analytics or other tools to count it as a bounce and lower a website’s ranking in search.
  6. Think about using internal links on your website: in the footer, in content. Don’t party hard there. Such internal links must help users to continue their journey. If those links are inserted automatically, with the help of a bot, for example, Google can punish you: it treats links jamming into every matching word as a manipulation. You can find the results of such cross-linking at the end of the article. 
  7. You’ve given enough attention to link building and there are other websites that refer to yours. Thus, Google treats your website as an authority one and ranks it higher. Of course, if websites that refer to your website are trustworthy :)
  8. Tune the server files that influence how search engines access your website and index it: .htaccess, robots.txt, sitemap.xml. This step can be pretty complicated for setting up without the programmer’s supervision, but try not to omit it. Google must crawl into and analyze your content correctly!

What SEO gives you:

  1. First of all, you understand what drives your traffic and what your traffic sources are. Then you impact them!
  2. You understand how users find content similar to yours and now organic traffic grows because you use tags, and keywords wisely.
  3. A level of bounce rate decreases.
  4. A visitor spends more time on your website than before due to internal linking.
  5. After all, your ranking must be higher than before an SEO tuning.

Handle this small SEO analysis report to your web developer if you're not sure you can implement it on your own.

Website maintenance checklist

Website speed and performance is very important to users. Does your website load in about 15-30 seconds? All researchers agree that the optimal load time is from 1.5 to 3 seconds. People don't wait, and you will lose not only users but also potential customers. Google Search Engine considers website speed in their search rating, so we would like you to take the website  optimization into account. Every millisecond counts.

Since June 2021, Core Web Vitals are considered to play an essential role in your website ranking. There are just 3 factors:

  1. Largest Contentful Page (LCP) is the time required to render the largest image or text block visible in the preview area starting from the time of the page loading start.
  2. First Input Delay (FID) is the time period in milliseconds between the user’s first interaction with the page (link, button, JavaScript element) and the browser’s response to this interaction.
  3. Time to Interactive (TTI) is the indicator defining when the main content was downloaded and became ready for the user to interact with it. It helps track the situation when the user sees all interactive elements of the page but is not able to interact with them.  
     

Here are just a few basic and general suggestions, including Core Web Vitals, for improving website performance.

  1. Check the loading speed of the website. 
  2. Check that LCP is less than 2.5 seconds.
  3. Check that FID is less than 100 milliseconds.
  4. Check that CLS is less than 0.1.
  5. Check the loading speed of the images. 
  6. Check or enable the data caching. Drupal has a page caching feature in its core.
  7. Check the relevance of the codebase.
  8. Check the PHP version. 
  9. Track errors through Google Analytics.
  10. Check Google PageSpeed optimization.
  11. Check the functionality of the site with the client’s help (as frequently as the website is updated).

The reasons behind a poor website performance might be more complex than slow picture load. In this article, we tell about Core Web Vitals and give you a free checklist for DIY website performance audit. With our checklist, you will be able to find performance gaps on your own and speak the same language with your web development team. 

Have done everything according to the checklist but no dramatic change? The last resort is doing the front end refactoring, Google Analutcis chck-up, and the UX audit. Address experienced front-end developers for this task to avoid further foot-draagging.

Social media presence audit

Now that a website maintenance part is fixed and your website is getting higher in a search. What else can help? Right: a big link mass and references from other resources.

Social media presence audit checklist

  1. Your company/brand is present on social networks: a public page, a group.
  2. You keep referring to your website at profiles on social networks and make sure the content has a wide reach.
  3. Social media icons are embedded into the website’s footer or another appropriate place.

Having everything done right, you will see traffic from social networks growing.

A little tip before you go

Ease of administering/editing the website

When you’ve done everything for a user, consider checking how easy it is to edit a website and perform everyday routine actions. There’s no particular checklist for that because it mostly depends on the CMS you use. Make sure administrators of your website can create content pages without the help of a programmer. Make sure admins can present content the right way, too: for example, in Drupal, they can upload images, embed videos, and align a text.

Farewell

Now you’re set to conduct your first own website audit. Don’t omit steps and soon you’ll see how better things are going. If you know the things that we might have missed in this guide or need our advice, let us know.

And, of course, we offer a website audit service so feel free to contact us for a non-obligatory consultation. Happy auditing!

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