Auditing your company’s website can improve its performance, optimize customers’ online experiences and help convert more leads. Your website is often the initial contact people have with your business, and a poor or frustrating interaction can create the wrong impression. Even seemingly insignificant glitches, such as broken links or page load delays, might turn customers away.
Technical audits don’t have to involve checking HTML and a developer’s code. Think more surface-level features such as SEO, content, design and mobile responsiveness. Before you review your website’s performance and whether it matches your goals, it helps to make a checklist. Here are some of the basics of a technical website audit and how it can boost your company’s digital strategy.
Look at All Content
Blog posts, landing pages, product pages and so on make up your website’s content. You probably also have a few videos and FAQ pages. The words on those pages and the context of the videos drive awareness and bring people to your site.
Yes, some of your longtime customers may type in your URL directly and click on the pages they want from the menus. But search engines index and return your site’s content in search results based on relevance and intent. Creating and publishing pertinent and useful content is part of a strategic growth marketing plan. The goal is to attract target audience members and engage them with something informative, entertaining or helpful.
When online content isn’t ranking well on the search engine results pages, it may point toward one or more problems. Your content might not contain relevant keywords, good meta descriptions and/or alt text for images. The pages could be unresponsive and too slow to load. Page content could also be of low quality, meaning it doesn’t appeal to your target audience’s questions and needs.
Perhaps the information isn’t as complete and beneficial as it could be. The copy might also be confusing and contain typos and grammatical errors. Looking at your content from an overall and detailed perspective can identify which pages to revamp, strike or replace.
Evaluate Your Site’s Performance on Mobile Devices
Your web pages may look great on a laptop or desktop. However, they might not be so attractive or functional on smaller screens. That could be a problem for your business. In the second quarter of 2022, approximately 59% of global website traffic originated from mobile devices. Web designs that don’t load or arrange well on smartphones and tablets will score lower on the mobile responsiveness scale.
A page that has broken copy and incomplete pictures will be difficult for audiences to read and follow. In addition, call-to-action buttons and forms might be challenging to see and click. If your site uses pop-ups, these can prevent mobile users from getting to the meat of the page’s content. Your technical audit should focus on identifying such issues so you can address them and thus improve the user experience.
Some content management systems have preview modes so you can test how designs and templates look on mobile devices. You’ll see differences in how those designs render on desktops, tablets and smartphones. If you notice problems, you may need to switch to responsive templates or use a drag-and-drop editor to design some. Many companies use accelerated mobile pages or work with design agencies that can optimize pages for mobile.
Use Site Audit Tools
The thought of checking every broken link and the loading speed of every page may seem overwhelming. Smaller businesses with fewer staff members might not have the time to do this. Site audit tools lighten the load and make finding technical errors easier. Website auditing software can check your main domain and subdomains within minutes instead of days.
Based on the reports and recommendations site auditing tools yield, you can see where missing links, server problems and redirect errors exist. The software will also show your site’s load times for each page and identify security and SEO issues. For example, an audit tool might recommend compressing your site’s images.
Large files can slow down your site and frustrate visitors. This could cause shoppers to abandon their carts because product pages take too long to load. If customers can’t see page elements like add-to-cart buttons in a timely manner, those delays become sales that don’t happen. Site audit tools help pinpoint opportunities to improve site performance so customers can get the best experiences.
Audit software will also flag security issues, including expired secure socket layer certificates. When SSL certificates expire, visitors usually receive a warning that the site isn’t safe. If customers see this, they may think twice about visiting your site, buying from your online store or exchanging personal information. Some may never come back again.
Review Site Navigation and Structure
Most, if not all, websites have a navigational structure. They start with the home page and have subgroups or categories from there. For example, an online retailer may have subgroups and pages for each product category. The main navigation menu might also include links to pages about seasonal promotions, employment opportunities and loyalty programs.
Sites with clunky navigation may turn visitors off. That’s because the menus and pages don’t flow in a logical order or structure. At times, navigation menus in the headers and footers may not provide the links customers are looking for.
Heatmaps and page traffic data can uncover which pages get the most hits. This information will reveal which categories and links visitors need in the menus. But looking at how you’ve grouped and linked pages internally will expose potential problems with site organization. Ensuring subpages flow logically and web addresses mirror the site’s structure will make a website more user-friendly.
When It’s Time for a Website Audit
Website audits can show why companies aren’t achieving their digital marketing goals. Slow load times, expired security certificates and clumsy designs can lead to high abandoned cart and bounce rates. Sites with technical issues also tend to do a poor job of gathering leads.
If you’re seeing signs that your site is underperforming, it could be time to do a technical audit. By examining content quality, designing for mobile, leveraging audit tools and reviewing navigational structures, you can fine-tune your site and better meet your customers’ needs.