When you have a website up and working you may seem to think that it is doing what you intended, until one day you start to get less.
No matter what the less is, you may start to think about what you are going to do to get more, you may add more products (or offer more services if you are a service based company), you may tweak the copy, you may try a different theme and there are tons more you can try.
Sometimes those tweaks get you more, sometimes back up to the numbers you were at and sometimes even more. But then you start to get less so you do more tweaking. And you repeat this cycle until you don’t know what you can do to get more, so you find a company that offers website audits, and you are probably think what are they going to do?
A website audit is taking a look at your website and suggesting (or sometimes fixing) what doesn’t work or needs help.Every company is different, especially in the way they do website audits but here are some things that the company could do when doing their audit:
Every company is different, especially in the way they do website audits but here are some things that the company could do when doing their audit:
- Look at your website from the point of view of your target audience: Sometimes things are written in the heat of the moment (then published) and somethings what’s written isn’t written with the target audience in mind, your target audience could not understand something or browse websites in a slightly different way. So the website audit company could have someone on their team read over your website, they could have another company read it, or they may actually people from your target audience to come in and give them a set of things to find and do while on your website (while the audit company records everyone’s screens, face movements, and mouse movements) to understand their point of view. No matter what way the website audit company does it means that someone else is looking over your website.
- Check all the links on your website to make sure they are real links that still go to the right place: Sometimes we all link to something and that website changes their website in someway so the link no longer works. It’s called link checking and while a website could do it (by using a site like Monkey Test It sometimes it’s better to have an actual person go over your website since they will check to see if it’s the actual content you pointed to or if it’s something completely different.
- Check to see what websites point to your website (and what page they point to): Sometimes website link to something you have written or just link to your homepage maybe if you have been quoted in something (or could be that the website likes what you have written) and it’s good to see what websites do this so you can say that you were linked on (or mentioned on) a popular website. Sometimes bad websites steal content from other site (but give a link back to the original website) so it’s good to know about that, so they can be blacklisted. This is known as back-link checking, if you want to increase more links to your website yourself then you can follow these articles by Backlinko and Entrepreneur.
- Check to see who is hosting your website and who is running the dns for your website: If these are both just a bit slow they can really affect your website (there is no best website host). Sometimes an audit company will suggest changing servers just because they will get money from it, so it is suggested to have a second (or sometimes even third) opinion when doing something major like that.
- Logging into your website and seeing what is currently active on your website: you may have things have conflict with each other, or things that haven’t been updated for years (either by you or by the developer).
- Any aspect to eCommerce: Some website sells their products (or services) directly on their website (by having an order form, payment and others). Some website audit companies have an audit that directly goes through the buying (and checkout) progress, and even trying to get a refund. This is so you have an idea of how people feel when buying something on your website. Baymard Institute recently did a study that 68% of users abandon their cart, so during the website audit the company you have hired may want some sort of heat map on your website to see how people are navigating your website and what causes them to exit their cart.
- Website security: This is something that many companies forget to check on their website, an in-depth security audit will include trying to log in (and do almost any login), to trying to hack into the website (because you could have outdated something) to trying to get into your website host or even more. An in-depth audit could take weeks, or months and this is something that should be taken seriously and it’s so easy to forget about (or not even test at all).
- Look into the SEO: If someone is trying to find your business (or someone who does what you do) they most likely use a search engine and if your site doesn’t appear good to search engines then that potential customer won’t find you. Thanks Kyle Downs for this tip.
- Accessibility: You don’t know who really is coming to your website, they could any sort of accessibility issues and while some website aren’t accessibility friendly it’s important. Don’t try to have an accessible website just to pass some online testing tools, think about it in a way that a potential customer may choose you over another company because you are providing at least some accessibility settings. If you want to get a head start on becoming more accessible (or ADA compliant) then read and act on this blog post by network9.
- Competitor analyst: It is good to see what your competitors are doing, to see how they are different and how they are similar. Usually when a company audits this they will ask you for a list of competitors, but sometimes a company just finds other companies on search engines. This part usually takes some time and costs more, especially if the audit company uses commercial software (like semrush or serpstat or Moz or ahrefs since it costs them money to use this.
- Website speed: Nobody has the patience they used to have, the longer your website takes to load the less likely people are to buy from you. Nielsen Norman Group in 2010 wrote about Website Response Times which is still quite accurate today. Some websites like Amazon need to have a quick load time (even one second for Amazon can cost them $1.6 million) but a average business website should load in under 3 seconds. If you are interested in reading more (or trying to get your own website to load faster) about website load time then read this blog by Christine Austin.
- How your website looks on a different device: Not everyone uses the same devices that you do, so why do you expect your website to look the same to everyone? In basic terms this is called responsive website, and your website could look good to you, but even if you use the browser on another computer your website could look slightly different. It’s ok that your website looks slightly different, but what you want is that the website is still usable by that other person. How do you start? Find a responsive theme, most good themes should be responsive by default but if you don’t see it in the description feel free to ask the creator. Once you have a responsive theme then it’s time to customize your website to actually look similar to how you want everyone to see your website, this will depend on what your website is running so either find a customizer, check your settings or talk to the people who run your website and ask. If you want to read more about why you should have a responsive website then read FooPlugins article. Thanks to ourcodeworld for the suggestion.
- Website Sitemap: You know how sometimes we need a map (or GPS) to figure out how to get to a certain place, well search engines need a sitemap to know what pages on your website exist (and which ones they can get to). A sitemap should be current and should be able to be read by search engines, see Wikipedia for the 3 different types of sitemaps. The best way to learn more about sitemaps is to read moz.com. Thanks to SiteImprove for the reminder.
- Not Using Old Technology: Many years ago websites used to be build in Flash, and some of those websites still exist but the problem is that many browsers are removing Flash so people won’t be able to see that website anymore. The Adobe site has more details about exactly when Flash is no longer going to be updated. It’s not just Flash, there are plenty of old technology that was used to build websites and those websites can’t be accessed anymore. If you really want to see how many websites have changed then you can read about at smithsonian.com. Thanks B2C for the reminder about this.
- Checking https: Every new website nowadays should have HTTPS as then your customers can trust you a bit more with their personal information and search engines trust you more. Google in 2014 starting ranking https websites higher. It’s not just enough to have HTTPS installed, you need to ensure its setup, valid and that everything loads from HTTPS. It can be confusing and overwhelming to do all of this if you don’t know what you are doing, but it’s something that every audit should check for.
- Checking for duplicate content: That could either be the same content you have on two pages or content you have copied from another website. Learn about what Google considers duplicate content at Hobo SEO Services, for a much simpler version or if you want to learn how to fix duplicate content you can read moz.com.
- Checking to see what tracking you may have on your website: Tracking is something like having analytics or Facebook Pixel on your website so you know who comes to your website and what online campaign is effective. But there can also be a side effect if you have too many trackers on your website, each tracker you have on our website will collect the information of each visitor, and you really want to respect your website visitors privacy and ensure you don’t give their personal information to too many companies. For more details about web tracking you can read FreeCodeCamp or Search Encrypt Blog.
The price on a website audit can vary, the time they spend on (and delivering) the audit can vary, basically so much can vary that no website audit will be the same even if it’s done by the same company. If you want a website audit done by a company tell them why you want the audit and what exactly has changed, so they know what to look for and report back to you.
Want a second (or even third) opinion about anything on an website audit done by another company? We are happy to help you, contact us today.