In the digital era, an online presence is imperative for businesses of all sizes. From small-to-midsize businesses (SMBs) to international commercial juggernauts, it enables them to tap into large, eager online audiences. However, simply creating a website is only the first step toward a notable, visible, and lucrative online presence. As with all business endeavors, oversights, mistakes, and the need for updates will naturally emerge over time. In the case of websites, the best way to proactively identify such issues is to conduct regular website audits. Thus, let us devote this article to exploring this practice and the 6 biggest reasons to perform a website audit.
Types of website audits
First and foremost, let us define our terms. While “website audits” typically refer to SEO and content audits, there are other colloquial meanings – and thus other audit types.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) audit
The primary type of website audit, SEO audits examine websites in terms of SEO. In essence, they consider search engine ranking factors – which are over 200, as Backlinko notes.
SEO audits may focus on site-level factors, such as:
- Site architecture and sitemap
- Security certificates
- Mobile optimization
More thorough SEO audits may delve deeper into page-level factors, such as:
- Keyword density
- Content length
- Image optimization
In all cases, adherence to SEO ranking factors can ensure long-term business success. As such, this type of website audit can be incredibly beneficial.
Often seen as a subset of SEO audits, content audits examine on-page content, as the name suggests. These can provide substantial insights into page-level factors and user engagement metrics. In turn, they allow business owners and webmasters to identify content gaps and increase conversion rates.
Another subset of SEO audits, backlink audits examine backlinks that drive referral traffic. This type typically includes scanning for unlinked mentions and outdated backlinks externally and broken and dubious links internally.
This type of audit can be included in SEO audits or performed by web designers. As the name suggests, it examines websites in relation to design, ensuring it matches the business’s tone while enabling responsiveness and more straightforward navigation. As such, this type can also inform SEO practices.
Finally, a technical audit focuses on factors that frequently concern technical SEO. These include sitemaps and robots.txt files but may extend to broken links, content duplication, and others – depending on the conductor.
Of course, thorough website audits will frequently include many or all of the above audit types. However, especially if you’re operating on a budget or wish to focus on particular aspects, it’s helpful to distinguish them.
The biggest reasons to perform a website audit
Now, having examined these different types, let us delve into the 6 biggest reasons to perform a website audit.
#1 Improving your SEO
Arguably the most self-evident reason is, of course, to improve your SEO. By definition, website audits typically aim to improve marketing efforts – either by improving SEO or enhancing content marketing.
SEO audits, then, emerge as a necessary tool to adjust to the ever-changing Google algorithms. A recent example of such an update would be the Page Experience update, which expands on ranking factors. While Google itself reassured webmasters that it won’t be substantive, as SearchEngineJournal reported, SEO practitioners urge caution. From Panda and Penguin updates of old to this new update, an SEO audit can help ensure websites remain optimized.
#2 Solidifying your link strategy and cleaning up obsolete links
Another crucial, albeit more specific benefit of website audits, is a careful examination of one’s link strategy. Internal links and backlinks are both vital for healthy SEO, but they also improve navigation and produce referral traffic, respectively. As such, even if you disregard SEO entirely – which is ill-advised – periodically examining links can be highly beneficial.
Initially, audits will focus on internal links. Internal links that are invalid should be removed to facilitate a better user experience (UX). Similarly, links should be distributed wisely to avoid frustrating or confusing visitors. These and other factors aside, audits will then often turn to external links. They will track unlinked mentions, invalid backlinks, and so forth. By addressing both, such audits will ensure both fronts are in order and your website performs optimally.
#3 Enhancing website usability and navigation
On the subject of UX, UX is one of the biggest reasons to perform a website audit. The reason for that is simple; an excellent UX reduces bounce rates, increases conversion rates, and enhances engagement metrics.
Consider, for example, how page speed affects search engine ranking. Conversely, consider how slow loading speeds directly increase bounce rates and thus impact final sales. This metric aside, a poor navigation experience will also frequently drive visitors away. Typical examples of factors that hamper navigation include:
- A poor sitemap
- Cluttered header menus
- Low website responsiveness
Audits will identify such shortcomings and help inform practices that considerably enhance UX, benefitting both visitors and webmasters.
#4 Acquiring deep insights into user engagement metrics
Focusing more on content audits, which can still inform SEO enhancements, audits can also provide crucial user engagement metrics. These range from bounce rates and time on site to pages per session, time on page, and conversion rates.
Naturally, such insights offer an invaluable opportunity to improve your content so that it better resonates with your target audience. From an SEO standpoint, better user engagement signals inform search engines of your pages’ quality, value, and trustworthiness. From a strictly practical perspective, engagement drives conversions and sales. In either case, catering to your audiences through such insights can only benefit your website and, by extension, your business.
#5 Identifying content gaps
Similarly, such audits can help identify content gaps. While engagement insights can reveal content optimization opportunities, content gaps can inform content creation from its fundamentals.
Content gaps may often include, among others, the following:
- Quality inconsistencies among different content categories
- Underdeveloped content categories
- Inaccurate, outdated, or obsolete information
These and other factors can help inform content creation. Combined with user engagement metrics, these insights can help you pinpoint alluring content subjects and enticing content formats and layouts. In turn, you may shift your content creation focus toward addressing these gaps or capitalizing on new trends.
#6 Building a stronger content strategy
Finally, on the subject of content creation, all of the above may converge into one of the biggest reasons to perform a website audit; building a stronger content strategy.
Indeed, a content strategy hinges on a plethora of factors, including:
- Search engine visibility
- Website usability
- Content creation and keyword focus
- Landing page efficiency, engagement, and conversion rates
A website audit may offer insights into these and more, consolidating and future-proofing your content strategy. From creation to promotion and from engagement to conversions, audits provide immense opportunities for improvement and growth.
To summarize, website audits will typically, but not exclusively, focus on SEO and content strategies. Regardless of their focus, all website audits aim to reveal weak points, inconsistencies, and areas that offer room for improvement. Thus, you may use them to enhance your links and website navigation, acquire engagement metrics, or identify content gaps. In turn, you may improve or inform your SEO and content strategies, ensuring continued success.