The simple idea of building a website and posting on a blog may sound easy at first, but there are a myriad of factors to consider, and it’s easy to overlook critical website elements without even realizing it. To ensure you haven’t overlooked anything, it’s important to run a website audit from time to time, but where on Earth should you start?
There are so many different categories of digital marketing it can feel overwhelming, so let’s start by taking a look at the main elements that need to be addressed in an audit.
An audit should focus on four general categories of analyses, as follows:
- Social media
- User interface and design
Each of these core elements contain their own unique optimization techniques and best practices. Let’s take a closer look at each main category as we run down the website audit checklist for beginners.
Your SEO audit should be primarily concerned with organic rankings in search engines and the performance of keywords. Furthermore, an SEO audit should strive to make sure you are doing everything in your power to score high with Google’s ranking algorithm by optimizing ranking factors like page speed, bounce rate, utilization of HTTPS, etc. In addition to making sure you are sending positive signals to the Google ranking algorithm, you should also make sure you’re not associated with negative websites in your backlink profile. Such ties can be severed with the Google Disavow tool.
- Make sure you are employing a tracking tool like Moz SEO, Ahrefs SEO, or Google Analytics to measure traffic, keyword performance, and other critical metrics
- Insert keywords, variations of keywords, and synonyms into pages’ headlines and text body
- Use keywords and their variations in meta tags, title tags, description tags, and image tags
- Link to internal content to increase engagement and to make it easier to crawl your website
- Review your backlink profile and ensure that you have disavowed links from websites you deem unworthy
- Ensure your content doesn’t link to competitors’ content in a manner that would increase your bounce rate
- Make sure there are no broken links or orphan pages on your website
Next up is the social media portion of your audit. If you’re not already on social media, there’s never been a better time to capitalize on free ways to reach your target audience. Though it is true that platforms like Facebook run ads to generate revenue, you can also setup a business page absolutely free. It’s crucial to optimize this portion of your digital marketing strategy because social media platforms allow leads to disseminate your content through their social circles. In particular, remember to keep the following in mind:
- Make sure you post social media share buttons on your content
- Be available on all the major social media platforms you find applicable to your business, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and more
- No social media posts or images are inappropriate for your audience
- Actively post to social media at peak hours (varies per social media platform)
- Measure analytics data to identify top performing content (likes, shares, engagement, comments, clicks, etc.)
- Ensure content shared on social media has a catchy headline, is easy to digest, and easy to share
User interface and design
Following social media, the next portion of your digital marketing strategy that must be addressed is the UX and design of your website. Visitors demand pages that load extremely quickly, and you need to create a navigation structure that makes accessing those pages as effortless as possible. Users are turned off by bad designs and deep hierarchical structures that bury information in endless mazes of menus. Remember the following when selecting a WordPress theme, or when designing your own custom website:
- The whole website is easily navigable and accessible via uncluttered menus
- Consistent page structures with HTML markup using headers
- Overall UX design leads users to take action with interactive buttons and page elements
- Consistent branding across all pages
- All pages load quickly and appropriately on a wide range of desktop and mobile devices
- Pages load in under three seconds
- The background isn’t too busy and doesn’t make foreground text and web elements hard to read
Related: See our web design FAQ
Last but not least, your content is arguably the most important facet of your marketing strategy. Without content, visitors have little to no reason to visit your site in the first place, save for looking up data like contact information, prices, or location. You should strive to present your audience with content that improves their lives in some way to offer value. The idea is to be your audiences go-to source for information in your industry, not only to educate and inform visitors to your site, but to also prove you’re a trustworthy authority in your niche.
- Make sure you have a blend of evergreen content and topical information
- Content is structured with sections that adhere to a recognizable format
- Content includes calls to action
- Content provides value to your audience
- Content length is appropriate; typically it’s not advantageous to make posts shorter than 300 words
- Write for the visitors, not the Google bots
- Content is highly readable with plenty of whitespace to break up long paragraphs
- Links are embedded to other articles to increase engagement and the amount of time each visitor spends on your site
- Content includes images and visual elements to attract visitors
- Include multiple types of content including text, graphics, video, and interactive elements
If you don’t know how or simply don’t feel comfortable performing an audit, it’s time to reach out to a qualified professional to help identify problem areas and polish your website to a glossy sheen. If you would like a more in-depth guide to honing your SEO strategy, watch my 17 Point SEO Checklist training.