How to Conduct a Website Audit: SEO, UX, CRO, and More. The Ultimate Checklist.

How to Conduct a Website Audit: SEO, UX, CRO, and More. The Ultimate Checklist.

June 12, 2023
Web

Your website is like a storefront. You may have the best staff, product, and price. But if a shop window is unappealing, expect no visitors. That’s why your website should meet the best practices. A website audit helps identify areas for improvement to make your virtual storefront excel. 

What’s a Website Audit? Do You Need One?

An audit involves a thorough examination of your website’s performance, structure, design, and overall effectiveness. The goal is to spot and fix bottlenecks negatively affecting its functionality, visibility, or conversion. Website audit types and goals differ:

  • SEO audit evaluates a website's search engine optimization (SEO) elements. These include keyword usage, metadata, on-page optimization, backlink profile, and site structure. The goal is apparent - increasing organic traffic by improving search engine visibility. 
  • Conversion rate optimization (CRO) audit evaluates the effectiveness of a website in converting visitors into customers or achieving specific goals. It involves analyzing landing pages, CTAs, user flow, forms, checkout processes, and other conversion-related elements to increase your return on investment. 
  • Technical audit examines the technical aspects of a website, such as speed, mobile-friendliness, crawlability, indexability, URL structure, redirects, XML sitemaps, and server configuration. It helps identify technical issues hindering website performance or search engine discoverability. 
  • Content audit analyzes the website's content to determine its quality, relevance, and effectiveness. It involves reviewing the existing content, identifying gaps, assessing keyword targeting, evaluating readability, and ensuring content aligns with the overall website goals. A content audit is equally necessary for SEO and CRO. 
  • Security audit assess a website's vulnerability to cyber threats, such as malware, hacking, data breaches, and unauthorized access. It involves reviewing security protocols, SSL certificates, password policies, server configurations, and potential security loopholes.
  • Competitive audit involves analyzing your competitors’ websites to gain insights into their strengths, weaknesses, strategies, and overall online presence. The goal is to understand how your competitors are performing and identify opportunities to stay ahead of the market.
  • Design audit focuses on evaluating the visual design and user interface (UI) elements of a website. It aims to assess the overall aesthetics, usability, and effectiveness of the design to ensure a positive user experience. 

Different website audit types may overlap. For instance, SEO and security audits both examine a website’s SSL certificates but have different objectives. 

Do you need an audit? No, if you’re the #1 player in your niche with no competition in sight. Otherwise, you risk staying behind other companies by neglecting best practices. 

A website audit helps to:

  • Increase search engine visibility and organic traffic 
  • Enhance the user experience 
  • Detect critical performance and security issues 
  • Identify selling opportunities 

How to Audit a Website - Checklist

First, determine which website audit type you need to conduct. I advise going through all aspects, from security to CRO, if you’ve never done an audit before. However, there might be specific areas you want to improve, like SEO or UX. 

Now, let’s go through every audit type and cover the how-to’s. 

SEO Audit

  1. Review the website's structure and navigation to ensure it’s logical and user-friendly.
  2. Analyze on-page SEO elements such as title tags, headers, URLs, and internal links.
  3. Assess the quality, relevance, and uniqueness of the website's content. Address duplicates or outdated information.
  4. Evaluate the website's speed and performance. Optimize images, files, and implement caching techniques.
  5. Review the backlink profile. Identify and remove low-quality or spammy links. Seek opportunities for high-quality backlinks.
  6. Assess the website's mobile-friendliness. Make sure the design is scalable, the text is readable, and all features work as intended. 
  7. Check indexing and crawling issues using tools like Google Search Console.
  8. Evaluate local SEO factors if applicable. Ensure consistency in name, address, and phone number across online directories. Optimize for local keywords.
  9. Monitor website analytics to gain insights into traffic sources, user behavior, and conversions.

CRO Audit 

  1. Set goals for the CRO audit, such as increasing sales or user engagement.
  2. Dive into analytics to understand user behavior. Identify the main traffic sources, most-viewed pages, and bounce rates.
  3. Spot obstacles or drop-off points in the conversion funnel.
  4. Evaluate the effectiveness of call-to-action (CTA) elements, including their positioning, design, wording, and visibility.
  5. Review your landing page for clarity and alignment with user intent.
  6. Simplify and streamline forms and checkout processes to reduce abandonment rates.
  7. Ensure the website's design and layout are visually appealing, user-friendly, and mobile-responsive.
  8. Check for social proof, such as testimonials or security badges.

Technical Audit 

  1. Use tools like Google PageSpeed Insights or GTmetrix to identify performance issues.
  2. Evaluate mobile-friendliness. Test responsiveness on different devices with tools like Google's Mobile-Friendly Test.
  3. Review website structure. Ensure organization and optimization for search engines and users.
  4. Assess your website for issues that hinder search engine indexing. Use tools like Google Search Console.
  5. Analyze website security. Check for SSL certificates, malware, or vulnerabilities.
  6. Review website metadata, including title tags and meta descriptions. 
  7. Evaluate your website’s navigation and user experience. The navigation should be streamlined and apparent even for a first-grader. 
  8. Check for broken links and fix any instances that lead to 404 errors.
  9. Check image resolution. Compress them for faster loading times.
  10. Ensure proper implementation of structured data and schema markup. 

Content Audit 

  1. Assess content quality and relevance. It must align with your tone of voice and bring value to your target audience. Ensure your content is a mix of trendy and evergreen topics. 
  2. Identify content gaps. Use social listening, keyword research, competitor analysis, or follow your gut. 
  3. Identify trending topics in the industry for your content strategy. 
  4. Analyze competitor blogs. It helps differentiate your content, identify under-covered topics, and fill gaps.
  5. Monitor user engagement metrics to assess content effectiveness. Track page views, time spent on the page, bounce rates, social shares, and comments. 
  6. Spot outdated or underperforming content. You don’t need an article on website design trends from 2013. 
  7. Analyze your internal and external links. Prioritize the quality and relevance of links over quantity. 

Security Audit 

  1. Identify security gaps. Use tools like vulnerability scanners, penetration testing, or consult experts.
  2. Identify best practices for website security. Follow the guidelines from reputable sources like OWASP, NIST, or W3C.
  3. Analyze competitor websites. It helps benchmark your security level, identify potential threats, and learn from their mistakes.
  4. Monitor security incidents and alerts to assess security performance. Track metrics like attack attempts, blocked requests, malware infections, and data breaches.
  5. Spot outdated or insecure components. What about that plugin you haven’t updated since 2015?
  6. Analyze your SSL certificates and encryption protocols. Prioritize the security and validity of your connections over speed.

Competitive Audit 

  1. Analyze your competitors' SEO strategies. Check their keywords, titles, meta descriptions, headings, and content. Find their backlinks and sources.
  2. Evaluate your competitors' content quality and relevance. See what topics they cover, how often they publish, and how they distribute their content. 
  3. Monitor your competitors' user engagement metrics. Check how many visitors, leads, and customers they generate. Track their bounce rate, time on site, pages per session, conversion rate, and social shares. Find out what makes their website effective or ineffective.
  4. Review your competitors' special offers and thought leadership. Identify what incentives they offer to their prospects and customers. See how they position themselves as experts or authorities in their industry. 

Design Audit 

  1. Evaluate your branding consistency. Be mindful of colors, fonts, graphics, and icons. Side note - your branding should be consistent across all marketing channels, including social media and emails. 
  2. Ensure accessibility for users with audial, visual, cognitive, and physical impairments. For example, provide captions for videos. 
  3. Assess the navigation. Is the menu structure logical and easy to understand? Are there any usability issues with dropdown menus, submenus, or filters? 
  4. Consider button placement and CTAs. Check if the buttons are appropriately sized, styled, and placed in locations where users naturally expect them. Assess the wording of  CTAs to make them persuasive.

Can I Do a Website Audit Myself?

You may conduct a website audit on your own, depending on your professional background, resources, and goals. Say, you’re a founder of a copywriting agency. You’ll have no problem identifying content gaps and coming up with relevant topics. But can you handle the security or design audit?

Most business owners encounter the following challenges when attempting to audit their websites:

  • Time-consuming. A comprehensive website audit involves reviewing multiple aspects of your site, analyzing data, and identifying mistakes. It’s manageable with a one-page site, but not with an online store or video hosting platform. 
  • Lack of expertise. A thorough audit requires an understanding of SEO, web design, user experience, and content creation. Some aspects of a website audit, such as analyzing code quality, server configurations, or security vulnerabilities, can be technically complex. 
  • Limited resources. Professionals have access to advanced tools that provide insights into different aspects of a website. As an individual or small business owner, you might find their price unjustified. 
  • Subjectivity and bias. People tend to either be oblivious of their flaws or overly critical. You may downplay issues that need attention or change what used to work just fine. 

That’s why Lemonles offers a free basic website audit to help you identify and address issues. Reach out today - we’d love to have a chat! 

Audit Done. What’s Next?

Spotting issues is complicated enough. Fixing them is a whole other story. After the audit, you need to decide the improvement priority, develop an action plan, and set up monitoring tools for analytics. Seems overwhelming? Just fill in a contact form. We’ll handle it.