How to Audit Your Own Website for Improved performance, SEO, User Experience and Conversions
A good SEO audit will also uncover ways to keep your website up-to-date with the latest developments in search marketing and on top of the competition.
What is a Website Audit?
A website audit is a detailed analysis of page performance before undertaking search engine optimisation (SEO) or a website redesign. A good audit gives you an actionable plan that helps to:
- Compare your website to competitors and use your findings to your advantage
- Identify what changes need to be made (and how to change them)
- Get a general overview of SEO performance across your website
- Uncover your website’s deficiencies and correct them
- Set some expectations for the future of your website
Have you ever given your website a checkup?
If you’ve never completed a site audit, or it’s been over 6 months since you have, it’s time to put an action plan together. Perhaps you’re contemplating a website redesign? Or are keenly interested in knowing how your website works for you?
Use this post as your go-to website audit checklist to make sure your website is setup for best performance, and you won’t look back.
During your audit, there may be fixes, and suggestions that require some assistance from a web developer, or SEO expert. Write them down, and ask around, or ask us!
The Benefits of a Website Audit
Before we roll out the checklist, here are some things to keep an eye out for as you’re auditing your website. We split our website audits into three criteria:
Technical SEO & Performance
We’re looking to spot any missed SEO opportunities and fix any misguided or poorly implemented SEO practises throughout your website. This will allow you to focus on what we believe is most important, the user. Sticking to white-hat SEO will safeguard you from ever-changing search engine algorithms. Long gone are the days of techniques such as keyword stuffing, SEO is a much broader playing field nowadays, and requires you to focus on user experience much more. Metrics such as loading times, time spent on page, and social sharing are all contributing factors to rankings.
Content & User Experience
Which pages generate the most traffic and convert the most users? Which pages have the highest bounce rate? Potential search optimisation opportunities? The pages that are ranking best and worst? Pain points that can be quickly fixed? These are all things that can help with rankings, and more importantly, provide the best possible experience for your audience.
A websites effectiveness can be a broad term, but, we’re looking for signs that help us improve the effectiveness of our website as a tool to deliver the goals we want to achieve. Are your goals being tracked, and are they working effectively? Are your landing pages converting? Is the website easy to use? We can extract some information from an audit to help us answer those questions
The Website Audit Checklist
Before we show you how to begin crawling your website for issues, let’s start with an initial URL check, and make sure that only one version of your website is browseable.
People can type your website address out (or link to it) in various ways, for example:
However, only ONE of these should be accessible in a browser. The others should be 301 redirected to the canonical version. Take our website, for example, no matter which you type out, you end up at https://watb.co.uk
If you are unsure on how to make that happen, there’s a detailed guide on that fix here.
Right, now that’s sorted, let’s move on.
Technical SEO and Performance
There are various free and paid SEO tools out there to help you work out what’s wrong with your website but for this part of the checklist, we’ll be using SEOptimer. It’s not as comprehensive as something such as SEM Rush, or Ahrefs, but it’s a fantastic starting point. Other audit tools are available!
It’s worth noting SEOptimer is only checking one page at a time, not your whole website, so you’d need to run it for each page, or use a tool that crawls your whole website!
Title Tag – Page titles tell users and search engines the subject of the webpage. They also give search engines an estimation of how relevant a page is to a search query. For this reason, page titles should be as accurate and relevant to the page’s content as possible.
Meta Description Tag – The same applies for your description, think user first. Keep your description between 70 and 320 characters. If you’re using WordPress, follow this guide to show you how to edit your Meta Titles and Descriptions.
Header Tags – HTML header tags are an important way of signalling to search engines the important content topics of your page, and subsequently the keywords it should rank for. Your main page topic/title should be your H1 tag.
Keyword Consistency – Your content should be focused around particular keywords, usually worked out by completing keyword research. We’re looking for a good spread over our page headings. you would like to rank for. Ideally, these keywords should also be distributed across tags such as the title, meta and header tags. You can see above the phrase ‘Digital Marketing’ is used in our Meta title, description, and our header tags.
Amount of Content – With topic-based content, and long-form content being more likely to assist your website in search rankings, you want to make sure you’re not to light on the ground when it comes to textual content. Set yourself a minimum of 1,000 words.
Image Alt Attributes – Alt text describes the appearance and function of an image on a page. There are a few reasons why Alt text is important:
- Visually impaired users using screen readers will read an alt attribute to better understand an on-page image.
- If for some reason your image doesn’t load, your Alt tag will display in place of the broken image.
- Alt tags provide better image context to search engines, helping them to index an image accurately.
Number of Backlinks – Backlinks are still a very important metric in search engine rankings, but, it’s about quality over quantity. Look for partnerships, and consider guest writing articles. The more your voice becomes an authority, the more other websites will link to you. It’s also worth checking out what your competition is up to, and see if you can score any wins that way.
On-Page Link Structure – It’s good to have internal and external links. Go through your content and help your users by linking to relevant internal pages or external resources they may find useful.
Broken Links – You may have existing links that no longer work or that need redirecting to new pages. Check to see what’s broken, the last thing you want is a user seeing a 404 page. There are three types of broken links:
- Internal links: links on your website that link to other pages within your website.
- Outbound links: links on your website that link to another website.
- Inbound links: links from another website to your website. These are out of your control, so if you notice another website is linking to a page that no longer works, set up a 301 redirect, and drive that traffic to the most relevant page you deem fit.
Friendly URLs – We’re looking for URL’s that search engines can gain context from, and humans can easily read.
An unfriendly URL example:
A friendly URL example:
Robots.txt – A robots.txt file is a text file that tells web bots (most often search engines) which pages on your site to crawl. It also tells web bots which pages not to crawl. The quickest way to test this is to type ‘/robots.txt’ after your domain name and see what comes up. There’s a top article here by Neil Patel explaining how to create the perfect robots.txt file.
XML Sitemaps – A sitemap contains a list of your pages that are accessible for crawling, as well as other valuable information for search engines such as when you last updated a page, and priority of pages. If you need to create a sitemap there are a plethora of tools allowing you to do so, here’s one you can try now.
Analytics – It goes without saying, you should be using some form of Analytics tool, the most notable is probably Google Analytics, it’s free to use and easy to set up. If you haven’t already set one up here: Google Analytics
Page Speed – Page speed has an impact on user experience, it affects bounce rates, and is a factor in search rankings. The average loading time for a web page is 5 seconds, but you want to be aiming for sub 2 seconds if possible.
Server Response Time – Budget hosting leads to slow response times, geolocation can also play a part in response times. If your business is located in the UK and the majority of your customers are also from the UK, it’s best to have a UK based hosting provider. Use a tool such as Pingdom Speed Test to check your response time.
Number of Resources – As a general rule, more files to load increases the number of server requests and can subsequently increase page load time, and your overall site speed. It is a good idea to remove unnecessary files or consolidate files like styles and scripts where possible.
Optimise Images – Correctly formatting and compressing images can have an important impact on page load performance. There are some free tools out there if you don’t have image editing software, such as Kraken.
Minification – Minification is the process of removing all unnecessary characters from code without changing its functionality. Often used to speed up resource loading times.
SSL – Having an SSL certificate is no longer really a consideration, it’s a must. With Google introducing favour to websites that are SSL enabled, it’s time to make sure you have a certificate installed. Most hosting companies now support LetsEncrypt which is a free SSL service. WordPress is also edging towards SSL as standard!
HTTPS Redirects – Once you’ve set up your SSL Certificate you’ll want to make sure your main URL is the https:// version, there are some other things you’ll also want to check when moving over to SSL.
Malware Check – You’ll want to make sure your website code hasn’t been compromised, and you’re fully safe.
Email Privacy – It’s good practice to not have any email addresses as plain text throughout your content. If you have to show an email address, try writing it in a format such as ‘info [at] yourname.co.uk’
Enjoying this article?
Download our free Website Audit Checklist
Our handy Excel / Google sheet includes details on how to check, and fix your website issues!
Technical SEO and Performance Summary
Whilst there are plenty more elements throughout a website that can be tested, writing them all out in this article would be overwhelming. We’ve given you a list of things to check for now, which make a great start to auditing your website.
SEO optimisation is essential to maximise your ranking potential and drive traffic to your website from search engines. You can continue to build on your ranking positions through further implementation of Digital Marketing strategies like content creation and link building.
Content and User Experience
Again, there are various free and paid tools out there to help you work out what’s wrong with your website but for this part of the checklist, we’ll be using Google Analytics and SEM Rush. This is a very brief insight into some points you can check yourself, it’s worth bearing in mind that a full audit will cover considerably more points!
Which pages generate the most traffic?
There are multiple metrics to take into account for traffic generation, but the easiest way to find out which pages are generating the most traffic is to load up Google Analytics, and go to Behaviour > Site Content > All Pages – You’ll want to add a secondary dimension too so you can see where the views are coming in from ‘Aquisition > Source’.
In the example below, you can see the majority of our incoming traffic is from Google Search.
Which pages have the highest bounce rate?
In the same view, you can check out the bounce rate for your top pages, that’s a good place to start. You’ll find that column over to the right.
A bounce rate is the percentage of visitors to a particular website who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page.
As you can see in our example, our average Bounce Rate is higher than we’d like, but upon closer inspection, it’s the very specific blog articles that seem to have a high bounce rate, which is putting our website average up. This would indicate that we need to consider some changes to keep readers of our blog on our website.
Check out our great article on split testing on your website for some things to try out!
Which pages are ranking best and worst?
It’s essential for a blogger or SEO professional to check their Google keyword ranking for target keywords. One of the most common blunders bloggers and website owners make is that they write articles without targeting any keywords at all.
We’re gonna fire up SEMrush for this, you can grab yourself a free trial for 14 days, and use some of the tools to help you. In this screenshot, we’re looking at the top pages for SEMrush based on traffic volume. By using these metrics, you can start to see where you can make improvements, and which pages might be easiest to work on.
It’s worth noting, this data is only for desktop, and does not include Mobile – You need to set up a new search for that.
Content and User Experience Summary
Whilst there are plenty more elements throughout a website that can be tested, if we included them all we’d have a bible length article on our hands… Maybe one day. We’ve given you a few things to check for now, which make a great start to auditing your website.
Go through your articles one by one, and make sure they’re optimised for the right keywords, and they are of benefit to the user. Look out for where your users are coming from and consider that in your future marketing campaigns.
Other useful material: How Great UX Design Can Increase Website Conversions
Is our website doing what it should do? Are we good at lead generation, what’s our conversion rate? These are questions you should be asking. Otherwise, what’s the point of a website?
Are your goals being tracked?
Hopefully, you’ve got goals in place, and you are tracking your conversions. Head over to Google Analytics, and click ‘Conversions > Goals > Overview’. If it’s been set up, you should see some data!
If not, ask your website administrator to sort it asap!
With this data, we can see where people are converting the most, and where they came from. Helping us make an informed decision on what to do next.
Conversion tracking goes a long way, say you’re looking to advertise on Facebook, you can set up Facebook Pixel (an article we need to write!), and start to build audiences based on their behaviour on your website.
So an example audience could be ‘all Facebook users who have viewed your services pages’, that way when it comes to running a Facebook campaign, we can target those users specifically.
Google Analytic Specifics
We wrote an article for those new to website Analytics, it covers all the basics such as:
- How to check website traffic – including page views, unique page views and sessions (and what those words mean!).
- How to change the date range in Google Analytics
- How to find out the performance of each page of your website
- How to find out where your website traffic has come from. Ie, how people found your website.
If you are new to analytics, we suggest having a read. How to check traffic on your website using Google Analytics
Focus on your goals, what is it exactly that you want your website to achieve. Put together a plan of action, and work on making one small win at a time. Creating, maintaining and making a website work for you is a long process that requires constant studying, tweaking and trial and error. Stick with it though, as users on your site are already halfway to being a customer!
Website Audit Summary
For now, this is a good place to start. For further investigation, you may want to hire an expert or delve deeper into the world of audits yourself. As mentioned at the start, a good audit should give you the tools to do the following:
- Compare your website to competitors and use your findings to your advantage.
- Identify what changes need to be made (and how to change them).
- Get a general overview of SEO performance across your website.
- Uncover your website’s deficiencies and correct them.
- Set some expectations for the future of your website.
If you are happy to give it a go yourself, download our free Website Audit Checklist
Our handy Excel / Google sheet includes details on how to check, and fix your website issues!
What should a website audit include? ›
An SEO audit measures how well your website is optimised for search, this can include analysing keywords, link profiles, traffic behaviour, goal conversions, meta data and image and video optimisation. There are also many technical aspects that will need to be audited.What is a full website audit? ›
Website audit is a full analysis of all the factors that affect website's visibility in search engines. This standard method gives a complete insight into any website, overall traffic and individual pages. Website audit is completed solely for marketing purposes.What are the 5 contents of an audit report? ›
Audit Report Contents are the basic structure of the audit report which needs to be clear, providing sufficient evidence providing the justification about the opinion of the auditors and includes Title of Report, Addressee details, Opening Paragraph, scope Paragraph, Opinion Paragraph, Signature, Place of Signature, ...How to do a website audit template? ›
- Step 1: Get some baseline data with Google Analytics.
- Step 2: Make sure Google is only indexing one version of your website.
- Step 3: Check that your website is mobile friendly.
- Step 4: Improve your website's speed.
- Step 5: Remove low-quality and unnecessary pages from Google's index.
- Step 1: Planning. The auditor will review prior audits in your area and professional literature. ...
- Step 2: Notification. ...
- Step 3: Opening Meeting. ...
- Step 4: Fieldwork. ...
- Step 5: Report Drafting. ...
- Step 6: Management Response. ...
- Step 7: Closing Meeting. ...
- Step 8: Final Audit Report Distribution.
How much does a website audit cost? Although we would love to give you an exact answer, the price of a website audit varies greatly. because every website is unique! However, to give you a rough idea, prices can generally vary between $1,500 and $8,000.How often should a website be audited? ›
To ensure the sustainability of your online store, it is strongly recommended to audit your site regularly (on a weekly or monthly basis). This guarantees you to constantly monitor the evolution of your online sales. In this way, you can optimize your customer acquisition strategies and your sales path.How long should a website audit take? ›
Depending on the size of your site, a proper audit can take anywhere from 2-6 weeks to complete. Due diligence is required when making major changes to any website, and an SEO specialist must conduct a thorough investigation to make accurate, impactful recommendations.How do I audit a website SEO manually? ›
- Step 1: Identify link building opportunities. ...
- Step 2: Identify site structure improvements. ...
- Step 3: Find (and fix) thin content. ...
- Step 4: Identify (and nix) duplicate content. ...
- Step 5: Scan for keyword optimization. ...
- Step 6: Make sure meta tags are optimized. ...
- Step 7: Identify page update opportunities.
A website audit will help you optimize your website for SERPs and users. Every marketing manager wishes to generate leads and increase conversions. A website audit helps you identify and bridge the gaps in your website resulting in a great user experience and hence increased conversion rates.
What are the 4 C's of auditing? ›
As for directors, there are four features to consider when evaluating the sufficiency of any risk-based audit plan: culture, competitiveness, compliance and cybersecurity – let's call them the Four C's, for short.What are key items in audit? ›
• High value or key items. The auditor may decide to select specific items within a population because they are of high value, or exhibit some other characteristic, for example items that are suspicious, unusual, particularly risk-prone or that have a history of error. • All items over a certain amount.How do I create a site audit report in Excel? ›
- Set up a connection to the auditing database (create a new data source).
- Create a query in Microsoft Query.
- Return data to Excel.
- Create a report in Excel (a table or a PivotTable report).
- Assess business risks. ...
- Verify the appropriateness of accounting policies and procedures. ...
- Identify areas where special audit consideration may be necessary. ...
- Establish materiality thresholds. ...
- Develop expectations for analytical procedures. ...
- Develop audit procedures. ...
- Reassess the plan.
- Fair presentation.
- Due professional care.
- Evidence-based approach.
- Risk-based approach.
There are three main types of audits: external audits, internal audits, and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) audits. External audits are commonly performed by Certified Public Accounting (CPA) firms and result in an auditor's opinion which is included in the audit report.What are the 7 internal control procedures? ›
- Separation of duties.
- Access controls.
- Physical audits.
- Standardised financial documents.
- Periodic trial balances.
- Periodic reconciliations.
- Approval authority.
People, Processes, and Products are entities. Each instance of an entity is an object.What is the golden rule of auditing? ›
1st Golden Rule : Keep your ears open and be sharp to hear an information that will be useful during the course of assignment. There maybe some information we may conclude that it is misleading or confusing but it is better to test everything during an assignment instead of not testing it and later regret for it.What are 2 key criteria of audit? ›
Some audit criteria examples are: Policies and procedures. Established internal controls. Historical activity.
How much do people charge to manage websites? ›
The average cost of maintaining a website ranges from $400 to $60,000 per year. The most common maintenance costs are domain SSL certificate, and software or web hosting renewal. Other costs might include purchasing additional extensions or investing in a major website redesign.Are SEO audits worth it? ›
SEO audits are an essential part of any SEO strategy. At the base minimum, they help keep your clients' websites afloat in a sea of competition. If their websites aren't consistently optimized for SERPs, they will be missing out on important organic traffic that can bring in results.How can I SEO audit my website for free? ›
- Screaming Frog – Free For 500 URLs Or Less. Industry-leading site auditing software Screaming Frog offers a free version that's perfect for auditing smaller sites that are under 500 URLs. ...
- Netpeak Spider. ...
- Xenu Link Sleuth.
However, as a general rule of thumb, you should redesign your website once every two to three years. This is simply because if your website is three years old — a lifetime, in the digital world — odds are it's outdated. Geriatric.When should you perform an SEO audit? ›
In my experience, I've found it's best to conduct a comprehensive SEO audit every six months and run smaller, mini-audits each month. There are several factors that make regular SEO audits mandatory: The constant evolution of search engine best practices.How often should you review your website? ›
For larger companies or larger websites with a lot of new content each month, try reviewing your site every quarter -- this just makes more sense. Regardless of how often you conduct an audit, creating a clear strategy and checklist will help you save time and effort.What is an SEO audit checklist? ›
An SEO audit is where you find opportunities to improve a site's search performance. It involves finding technical, on-page, content, and link-related issues to fix or improve. Everyone's SEO audit process differs, as there's no universal approach.How far back does an audit look? ›
How far back can the IRS go to audit my return? Generally, the IRS can include returns filed within the last three years in an audit. If we identify a substantial error, we may add additional years. We usually don't go back more than the last six years.What is SEO checklist? ›
The checklist also covers information about best practices for title tags, meta descriptions, header tags, and more for on-page SEO. We explain how to do keyword research and incorporate keywords into your content. We cover off-page SEO strategies as well, including the importance of building backlinks.How do I assess SEO for my website? ›
- Organic Traffic.
- Keyword Ranking.
- SERP Visibility.
- Click-Through Rate.
- Bounce Rate.
- Website Authority Over Time.
- Page Speed.
How is SEO website audit done? ›
A good SEO audit is crawl-based. That means you should be able to simulate the way Google crawls your pages. And see all issues related to those pages the way Google might see them. To do that, you'll need an SEO auditing tool like Semrush's Site Audit.How do you evaluate a good website? ›
There are six (6) criteria that should be applied when evaluating any Web site: authority, accuracy, objectivity, currency, coverage, and appearance. For each criterion, there are several questions to be asked. The more questions you can answer "yes", the more likely the Web site is one of quality.How can I check the quality of my website content? ›
- Plagiarism. The act of copy-pasting someone else's work or idea in your piece of content is plagiarism. ...
- Brand consistency. Every brand that's creating content is doing so with a goal in mind. ...
- Fact check. ...
- Grammar and spell check. ...
- Keywords to improve content quality.
- Content value and originality.
- Spelling and grammar.
- Fact checking.
- Outgoing links.
- The name of the company they have audited as well as their accounting method.
- A summary of the auditor's responsibility and their report.
- The auditor's reservations (if any)
- Additional information*
- A report by the organization's management*
Among other things, audit documentation includes records of the planning and performance of the work, the procedures performed, evidence obtained, and conclusions reached by the auditor. Audit documentation also may be referred to as work papers or working papers .What should be included in an audit checklist? ›
There are five sections to every audit checklist: scope, evidence collection, audit tests, analysis of results and conclusion. The scope section of the checklist includes the initial meeting with the client, identification of known issues, focus of audit, overall time line and required outcome.What are the 5 C's of observation? ›
Detailed Observations (include the 5C's: Criteria, Condition, Cause, Consequence, and Corrective Action Plans/Recommendations)What are the 3 main types of audits? ›
There are three main types of audits: external audits, internal audits, and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) audits. External audits are commonly performed by Certified Public Accounting (CPA) firms and result in an auditor's opinion which is included in the audit report.What are the six parts of an audit report? ›
The audit report template includes 7 parts of elements these are: report title, introductory Paragraph, scope paragraph, executive summary, opinion paragraph, auditor's name, and auditor's signature.
What is the audit 60 day rule? ›
The date, no later than 60 days following the report release date, on which the auditor has assem- bled for retention a complete and final set of documentation in an audit file.What are 4 purposes of audit documentation? ›
Nature and Purposes of Audit Documentation
Assisting the engagement team to plan and perform the audit. Enabling the engagement team to be accountable for its work. Retaining a record of matters of continuing significance to future audits. applicable legal, regulatory or other requirements.
It requires a description of the most significant assessed risks of material misstatement as well as a summary of the auditor's response to those risks and, where relevant, key observations arising from those risks and reference to the disclosure in the financial statements.What are the 5 phases of an audit? ›
What happens during an audit? Internal audit conducts assurance audits through a five-phase process which includes selection, planning, conducting fieldwork, reporting results, and following up on corrective action plans.What are the 4 phases of auditing? ›
Although every audit process is unique, the audit process is similar for most engagements and normally consists of four stages: Planning (sometimes called Survey or Preliminary Review), Fieldwork, Audit Report and Follow-up Review.How do I review website content? ›
- Consider the audience. ...
- Check the site is well optimised. ...
- Find out how the site ranks for key terms. ...
- Identify and redirect broken links. ...
- Make the most out of social media. ...
- Run a content audit. ...
- Optimise for mobile. ...
- Is the web design appropriate and user-friendly?
An SEO content audit is the process of assessing existing content on your website to determine how you can get more and better quality organic traffic to each page. The goal of the audit is to identify which pages to keep, which ones to optimize, and which ones to scrap.