Great websites make businesses more trustworthy. According to a web credibility report from Stanford, 75% of users judge a brand’s credibility based on the quality of its website.
Your website plays a critical role in driving your business. It’s the crucial touchpoint between you and the customer. It’s what sets you apart from the competition. And, of course, it’s what portrays your brand values on the wild expanses of the internet.
As such, it’s critical to make it as usable as possible. But, how should you know what to improve? Well, this is where a website audit comes in. In this post, you’ll learn how to perform a site audit and why it matters. But first, a quick primer on website audit.
What is a Website Audit?
A website audit is an examination of the factors that affect a website’s performance, ease of use for users, and visibility in search engines. The purpose of a website audit is to give webmasters a complete analysis of their site’s health, speed, and performance.
Assessing these areas will give you a complete picture of your site’s effectiveness, show the areas that may need improvement, and identify areas causing performance issues. The following parameters are evaluated when performing a website audit.
- Technical aspects
- Design, engagement, and user experience
- On-page and off-page SEO
By analyzing these parameters, you’ll gain valuable insights into whether your website is going in the right direction or not. The audit analysis results will also help you decide what needs to be changed and how to adjust your strategy.
The Best SEO Audit Tools to Improve Website Optimization
Before we dive into the website audit part, there are a few things you need to do to ensure a smooth and quick process.
First, you need to understand the state of your website and the areas that may need improvement. And the best way to get a comprehensive view of your site’s health is by using SEO audit tools. Let’s look at some of the best SEO audit tools available on the market today.
Cost: From $99.95 per month
Best for: Technical SEO, competitor analysis, backlinks, on-page SEO
SEMrush is one of the big names in the digital marketing space, and its SEO auditor is one of the best in the industry.
The main features of SEMrush Site Auditor include:
- Scans websites for more than 130 technical and SEO errors
- Performs detailed competitor and backlink analysis
- Displays SEO audits via intuitive graphs
- Displays results into three groups, based on their severity: Warnings, errors, and notices
- Integrates with Google Analytics
Besides the Site Auditor, SEMrush has over 30 other tools for SEO, advertising, reporting, social media management, etc., making it the best option for your digital marketing strategy.
Cost: From $99 per month, paid trial
Best for: Keyword rankings, technical SEO, backlinks
AHREFS is another big name in the SEO space, with many digital marketing tools to its name. It offers a Site Audit Tool, Keyword Explorer, Site Explorer, Content Explorer, and a ran tracker. The Site Audit tool is where the SEO audit magic happens.
The key features of AHREFS include:
- Crawls the desktop and mobile versions of your site
- Covers 100+ pre-configured SEO issues
- Schedules automatic daily, weekly, and monthly site crawls
- Provides actionable recommendations on how to fix the identified issues
Another helpful feature of AHREFS is the ability to “show changes.” This feature allows site users to see what has changed since the last time the pages were crawled. For instance, if you want to know whether images were updated with ALT tags, you can simply run a new crawl.
Cost: From $198 per month, free plan available
Best for: on-page SEO, off-page SEO
Screaming Frog is a desktop program and a crawling tool for analyzing the entire website. The tool scans your website and digs deep into the issues affecting your site’s SEO—both on-page and off-page factors.
With the help of screening Frog, you can examine various parameters such as meta descriptions, ALT tags, response times, broken links, security status, meta descriptions, outbound links, etc. The tool also finds broken links (404s) and server errors.
Cost: From $39 per feature, per month
Best for: User experience (UX)
Hotjar is another excellent tool, especially for measuring UX, a critical ranking metric for Google. This tool allows users to put a tracking code on their websites to see how visitors are interacting with their websites.
Some information that it collects includes:
- Which pages get the most visits
- Where people click on your site
- How far they scroll down each page
- Where and when visitors exit your site
Companies use Hotjar mainly to test the effectiveness of their UI and gauge the kind of experience visitors get on their websites.
How to Conduct a Website Audit
Now that you know what a website audit is and the best tools to use, let’s look at how to perform a site audit the right way.
We’ll start with a website audit checklist, which will consist of five main parts:
- Choose a website audit tool
- Identify technical errors
- Analyze design and UX
- Assess website content
- Identify relevant fixes
Note that it’s possible to conduct the full website audit manually. However, it’s a hectic process that can take a lot of time, especially if your website has a lot of content. For this reason, we recommend using one or several of the site audit tools discussed above.
1. Choose a Website Audit Tool
The first step in conducting a website audit is to find a good website audit tool.
Many premium website audit tools exist that you could use. Some tools like ContenCal are niche-specific, while others like AHREFs or SEMrush will perform a comprehensive audit on all aspects of your website.
In general, a site audit tool allows you to:
- Scan your website for technical problems
- Identify weak or duplicate content
- Identify SEO issues
- Check for broken links or files
- Generate a checklist of problems to fix
While the market is flooded with free website audit tools, we recommend opting for a paid SEO audit tool. Free tools lack advanced features, like flagging issues related to AMP implementation, that you’ll only find in premium tools.
2. Run Your Website URL Through the Site Auditor
Once you’ve chosen a premium site audit tool, enter your website’s URL in the site-auditor.
The tool will scan your website and generate a comprehensive report of all the identified issues. Once you’ve got this report, you can review it, identify issues by category, and perform the relevant fixes. Here’s a breakdown of what to look for in each category.
You may also ask a company to run an initial SEO report for you as this will give you some clear pointers on how to get started with your own website SEO.
3. Find Technical Errors
Technical errors are the most common issues detected in a site’s audit.
These issues need to be fixed to improve SEO and make your site more user-friendly. The most frequent technical issues include:
- Crawl Errors – These appear when the website auditor identifies pages that, for various reasons, can’t be crawled by search engine bots
- HTTPS Status – According to Google, HTTPS is an important ranking signal. Why does it matter? HTTPS confirms that a site is secure—i.e., data transfer to and from it is encrypted so that attackers can’t intercept it. HTTPS error occurs when a site’s SSL certificate is not up to date.
- Page Speed – According to data shared by Small SEO Tools, a one-second delay results in a 7% drop in conversions. If your website has low loading speed, page speed errors will appear in the audit report.
- Broken Links – Find any internal and external links that are not working, i.e., links that aren’t accessible to the user or the page they’re pointing to doesn’t exist.
- Robots.txt – This file tells search engine bots which pages to crawl and which not to crawl. Check for page indexing errors in the same audit report.
- Mobile Friendliness – As Google rapidly shifts its efforts towards mobile-first indexing, it’s critical to ensure your website is responsive on mobile. Look for glitches or accessibility issues that might hamper navigation on mobile and fix them.
Most of these technical issues are easy to fix, and you can do it on your own or with the help of an SEO expert or a web developer.
3. Identify SEO Problems
Next, you’ll want to find SEO-related issues so you can improve your rankings on search engines. A good site audit should consider these two aspects of SEO:
- On-Page SEO – Consists of factors you can affect directly, such as keywords
- Off-Page SEO – Factors originating outside of your website, such as link building
SEO audit is vital for any website that wants to increase its traffic. That’s because a high percentage of your site visitors will find you through organic search.
Common issues identified in an SEO audit include:
- Short, long, or missing meta descriptions
- Keyword staffing
- Duplicate, short, long, or missing title tags
- Absence of H2, H3, H4 tags
- Non-optimized anchor texts and internal links
- Missing or incorrect schema.org microdata
- Google Analytics code missing
- Missing or duplicate image ALT tags
The SEO audit tool will specify which issues need improvement and recommend the right action. This could include re-writing your meta descriptions, page titles, adding image ALT tags, H2s, and more.
All these issues affect your site’s SEO. You’ll also want to ensure you’re targeting the right keywords and placing them in the right places—URL, H2s, title tags, etc.
Some website audit tools will also check for keyword cannibalization as well. This will let you know if you’re optimizing the same keyword on multiple pages, thus impacting your rankings negatively.
4. Analyze Design and User Experience (UX)
User experience is critical if you want your website to be helpful and rank higher.
UX refers to the ability of a user to find what they need on your website, interact with your website for longer periods, and develop positive associations with your brand along the way. It’s where design, technology, and intent intersect to facilitate activity on your website.
This part of the audit is hard to evaluate. But in general, you need to check how fast your web pages are loading and how easy it is for users to navigate your site.
You could use several indicators to gauge how your website design is performing. For example, site navigation and page depth will indicate whether your website is easy to use and how easy it is for users to find what they’re looking for.
One of the most important things to check is your Core Web Vitals. This relates to page load speed and how stable the page layout is, as this is a big part of website user experience. You can read more about Core Web Vitals in this blog post.
For best results, we highly recommend the majority of your content to exist within 3-clicks away from the homepage.
Alternatively, you could use some technology tools to judge the impact of your site’s UX. We recommend platforms like Google and Hubspot Analytics to track the baseline data. These tools should give you insights into which pages people are visiting more and how many conversions each page is getting.
Hotjar is another incredibly powerful tool you could use to gauge user experience. This tool will open your eyes to how users are actually engaging with your pages.
5. Assess Website Content
Quality content is the most valuable asset you have on your website. It helps to keep your audience engaged and coming back for more.
When conducting a website audit, you must assess your website content and improve it if necessary. There are plenty of tools you could use to improve your content, including:
- Grammarly checkers
- Plagiarism checkers
- Hemmingway editor
These tools can be helpful when fixing the issues identified by your site-auditor.
For example, if there are issues with your content’s readability, Hemmingway’s editor can come in handy. It can show you the wordy sentences that need to be shortened as well as passive voices and jargon words you need to remove to improve readability.
Aside from this, a thorough site audit will identify which pages are ranking for specific keywords and which pages are not ranking at all. It will also identify pages with duplicate content or “shallow” content.
6. Generate a Checklist for all Issues and Recommended Fixes
Last but not least, you’ll want to create a comprehensive list of all the identified issues that need to be fixed. This will help you to stay organized.
As mentioned earlier, most premium site auditors will generate a report for you with all the issues, so this part shouldn’t be difficult.
You can share the checklist with your team and brainstorm how to improve certain key areas, like content creation and SEO optimization. Having a list keeps you on the task, allowing you to focus your attention where it needs to be and ensuring you don’t miss any crucial details.
Why Do You Need To Audit Your Website?
Experts recommend that you do an SEO audit every four to six months.
But why is a website audit important for your business? Here are the key benefits of carrying out a site audit.
1. Improve User Experience
User experience (UX) is a critical ranking factor for SEO.
Google is becoming more user-centric by the day. The search engine giant uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to understand the users’ needs and deliver the best results.
Of late, Google has introduced the EAT concept and metrics like mobile-friendliness, page speed, dwell time, and user intent to deliver the best search results. All these factors are part of a rich user experience.
Providing a rich user experience encourages site visitors to stay longer and engage more. This sends positive signals to Google, which in turn ranks your site higher in SERPs.
However, if performance bottlenecks in your website are chasing visitors away, it may hurt your engagement and ranking. A website audit helps identify such bottlenecks and recommend the best course of action for webmasters.
2. Maximize Visibility for Better SEO
According to industry sources, organic traffic drives more than 50% of all website traffic.
Armed with this knowledge, you don’t want to mess with anything that negatively impacts SEO. A simple website audit can help remedy some of the common SEO pitfalls, like keyword stuffing, errors in grammar, broken links, etc.
These things may seem small but can significantly impact user experience and SEO. A website audit can give you insights into how your site is performing in terms of SEO and provide recommendations on what to improve for the best results.
3. Increase Conversion Rates
Leads are the lifeblood of any business.
However, studies show that a whopping 68% of businesses admit to struggling with lead generation. While a website audit may not bring you more leads, it can help to reevaluate the effectiveness of your website in terms of lead generation.
This way, you’ll be able to identify any previously overlooked opportunities to convert leads into customers. Through a site audit, you can identify and fix any deficiencies in your landing pages to increase conversion rates.
4. Know What Your Competitors are Doing
A website audit can give you insights into how your competitors are performing.
You can use tools like SEMrush to perform an audit on your competitor’s website to gather more insights. A good website audit tool can help you analyze how you’re ranking against your competitors for certain keywords and brainstorm new tactics for your site.
A website audit is the best thing a company can do to ensure its online presence has the right impact. It helps to improve user experience, maximizes visibility for better SEO, increases conversion rates, and gives users insights into what the competition is doing.
If done right, a site audit might be the silver bullet you need to improve your rankings on search engine result pages (SERPs).
We hope this article will help you conduct a comprehensive website audit and perform the necessary fixes. Feel free to comment and share.