A simple guide to doing a technical audit of your website
Auditing your company’s website can improve its performance, optimize customer online experiences, and help convert more leads. Your website is often the first contact people have with your business, and poor or frustrating interaction can create the wrong impression. Even seemingly insignificant issues, such as broken links or page load delays, can turn customers away.
Technical audits don’t have to involve checking a developer’s HTML and code. Think more superficial features like SEO, content, design, and mobile responsiveness. Before reviewing your website’s performance and determining if it meets your goals, it’s helpful to create a checklist. Here are some of the basics of a technical website audit and how it can boost your business’ digital strategy.
Watch all content
Blog posts, landing pages, product pages, etc. make up the content of your website. You probably also have a few videos and FAQ pages. The words on these pages and the context of the videos create awareness and bring people to your site.
Yes, some of your long-time customers can directly enter your URL and click on the pages they want in the menus. But search engines index and return your site content in search results based on relevance and intent. Creating and publishing relevant and useful content is part of a strategic growth marketing plan. The goal is to attract members of the target audience and engage them with something informative, entertaining, or useful.
When online content is not ranking well on search engine results pages, it may indicate one or more issues. Your content may not contain relevant keywords, good meta descriptions and/or alt text for images. Pages may be unresponsive and load too slowly. The content on the page may also be low quality, which means it doesn’t address the questions and needs of your target audience.
Perhaps the information is not as complete and useful as it could be. The copy may also be confusing and contain typos and grammatical errors. By looking at your content from a holistic and detailed perspective, you can identify pages that need to be rearranged, removed, or replaced.
Evaluate your site’s performance on mobile devices
Your web pages can look great on a laptop or desktop. However, they may not look as attractive or functional on smaller screens. This could be a problem for your business. In Q2 2022, approximately 59% of global website traffic came from mobile devices. Web designs that don’t load or organize well on smartphones and tablets will score lower on the mobile responsiveness scale.
A page that has broken copy and incomplete images will be difficult for the audience to read and follow. Additionally, call-to-action buttons and forms can be difficult to see and click. If your site uses pop-ups, these can prevent mobile users from accessing the main content of the page. Your technical audit should focus on identifying these issues so you can fix them and improve the user experience.
Some content management systems have preview modes so you can test how designs and templates look on mobile devices. You will see differences in how these designs display on desktops, tablets, and smartphones. If you notice any issues, you may need to switch to responsive templates or use a drag-and-drop editor to design some. Many businesses use Accelerated Mobile Pages or work with design agencies that can optimize pages for mobile.
Use site audit tools
The idea of checking every broken link and every page loading speed can seem overwhelming. Small businesses with fewer staff may not have the time to do this. Site audit tools lighten the load and make it easier to find technical errors. Website audit software can verify your main domain and subdomains in minutes instead of days.
Based on the reports and recommendations generated by the site audit tools, you can see where the missing links, server issues, and redirect errors are. The software will also show your site load times for each page and identify security and SEO issues. For example, an audit tool may recommend compressing images on your site.
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 identify opportunities to improve site performance so customers can get the best experiences.
The 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 is not secure. If customers see this, they may think twice before visiting your site, buying from your online store, or exchanging personal information. Some may never come back.
Review site navigation and structure
Most, if not all, websites have a navigational structure. They start with the homepage and have subgroups or categories from there. For example, an online retailer might have subgroups and pages for each product category. The main navigation menu may also include links to pages about seasonal promotions, job opportunities, and loyalty programs.
Sites with clumsy navigation can turn visitors off. This is because the menus and pages do not follow a logical order or structure. Sometimes navigation menus in headers and footers may not provide the links that customers are looking for.
Heatmaps and page traffic data can reveal which pages are getting the most visits. This information will reveal the categories and links that visitors need in the menus. But looking at how you’ve grouped and linked pages internally will expose potential issues with site organization. Ensuring that subpages flow logically and web addresses reflect the structure of the site will make the website more user-friendly.
When it’s time for a website audit
Website audits can show why companies aren’t meeting their digital marketing goals. Slow loading times, expired security certificates, and clunky designs can lead to high abandoned cart and bounce rates. Sites with technical issues also tend to fail to gather leads.
If you see signs that your site is underperforming, it might be time for a technical audit. By reviewing content quality, designing for mobile, leveraging auditing tools, and reviewing navigational structures, you can fine-tune your site and better meet your customers’ needs.