Business owners today cannot just launch a website once and leave it alone. If you're an owner, you should regularly monitor and audit your web pages. If you have never done a website audit, any slump in your traffic might be because of an unaddressed issue on your site. A website is complex, and issues are bound to arise, so it's essential to keep it in top shape.
In an audit, you have to analyze your site for issues in user experience and SEO. The goal is to find reasons why your website's traffic is slowing down and why you are having difficulties in increasing your Google ranking. Leaving your site inefficient could cost you conversions and leave your visitors confused or frustrated. Here is a beginner's checklist of SEO issues you can use when auditing.
Check If Your Design Helps Or Hinders Navigation
People are unlikely to trust a website that looks like it launched in the 90s. Design is essential, and generally speaking, you should consider a redesign every four to five years. If not an entire overhaul, you could make design updates to refresh your website.
Illegible text makes people hit the back button. Ensure that visitors can read what you're saying easily; steer clear from 8pt fonts or elaborate scripts, and use enough white space. Also, when in doubt, go for classic contrasts like black on white. This makes reading much more comfortable.
Also, go easy on the pop-ups. While they aren't always bad, they can get annoying, especially if they pop up in the first few seconds you land on a page. Consult a design expert if your promos should be in pop-ups and identify which ones you should use.
You should also click through your entire website's navigation and ensure that your menu makes sense to visitors. Head to your home page and ask yourself if the menu highlights a handful of pages or if it clutters up your website with dozens of links. Is it easy for visitors to contact you for inquiries, or do they need to sift through several pages? Ask customers, friends, colleagues, or family to use your website if you're having difficulty identifying the issues.
Ensure That Your Website Is Mobile-Friendly
As of October 2020, Statista reports that there are 4.66 billion active internet users and 4.28 unique mobile internet users in the world. It means most of your visitors are probably viewing your website on a phone or a tablet. This reliance on mobile browsing is a significant factor in Google's decision to implement mobile-first indexing, which means if you're focusing on desktop visitors, you're hindering yourself from climbing SERP rankings.
SEO for your website should account for mobile-friendliness. It means having a fast, responsive website, since according to Google, 53 percent of mobile visitors click away when the page takes more than three seconds' loading time. They have also stated that site speed is a ranking factor. Check how fast your page loads using Google's PageSpeed Insights tool.
Have A Robots.txt File And A Sitemap
While not mandatory, having a sitemap and a robots.txt file will help search engines "read" your website better. If you have a large website—an e-commerce store, for example—these are more important. A robots.txt file tells search engines what they should and should not crawl, while a sitemap helps them learn what your pages contain and how you have structured your navigation. You should be able to access your robots.txt file at yourdomain.com/robots.txt. Meanwhile, the sitemap URL should be in the robots.txt file or your hosting's root folder for XML files.
Ensure That You're Using HTTPS
A website that starts with "HTTPS" is more secure since it encrypts data transferred to and from the site. A secure website has a lock in the URL bar, and the URL will begin with "HTTPS." If you do not encrypt data, malicious actors can intercept and steal the information you send. Using HTTPs is vital for websites that accept payments or collect user data. Page security is also a Google ranking factor. Websites that are not yet using HTTPS need to get an SSL certificate, and some organizations like Let's Encrypt provide this for free.
Check If The Content Is Compelling
Whether it's an About Us page or a blog post, you should ensure that all your content is valuable to visitors. Your text should be informative, coherent, well-written, and easy to understand. Also, ensure that the text is not a duplicate from another page. You can manually check a relatively small website (one with twenty or fewer pages). For larger ones, it is better to consult an SEO specialist.
Ensure You Have Links, Meta Descriptions And Keywords
If you have broken pages and links that lead to nowhere, your website will look out-of-date at best. Links get broken when third-party resources move or cease to exist. A website audit helps you catch these broken links and remove or replace them.
Furthermore, if you are doing an audit, make sure you have titles and meta descriptions for your content. These page elements help your SEO and make it more likely for search engines to choose your page over others. As such, many people consider meta descriptions and keywords in titles as indirect ranking factors. Look for pages without meta descriptions or titles, ones with bland or too-long titles and descriptions, or duplicated ones from other pages.
A Final Word On Website Audits
In sum, a website audit helps boost your search engine rankings and keeps your page relevant to users. However, not every page on your website needs optimization. For instance, you don't need to optimize your About Us or contact pages for your industry keywords. When auditing a website, ensure that you're targeting the right keywords—ones with traffic potential and low difficulty—and put them on pages where they positively affect your traffic. If you want to get insights from an audit as quickly as possible, you should team up with SEO experts. Doing so puts you on track for increasing your Google ranking.
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