No one is telling you that you need a website anymore. We all know that. But simply having a website isn’t good enough now. In today’s fast-paced, ultra-connected digital world, consumers have very high expectations when they visit a site. They’re not going to put up with slow-loading pages or error messages. They’ll be on to the next.
We know you’ve heard this before: your website is usually your brand’s first impression on your customers. And website audits are a great way to figure out if you’re making a good one. Whether you’ve had your site for years or are building a new one, you want to make sure it’s performing at the highest level and compliant with all of today’s regulations. And if you’ve had a website audit in the past, you’re not off the hook. Big privacy changes and accessibility updates will require another look.
Here’s everything you need to know about performing an effective website audit and why putting one off is a terrible idea.
What is a website audit?
To be honest, a website audit isn’t a small task. With that being said, it is 100% worth it. A site audit will do a deep dive analysis into all the factors that affect the site’s visibility in search, how it performs, and the user experience. It offers a complete picture of your site’s overall health, functionality, and speed, so that admins can take the necessary steps to improve.
Why are website audits important?
Google’s algorithm has evolved drastically over the last couple of years. That means what may have been working for your site then, probably isn’t working the same for it now. And when certain features don’t align with these updates or are outdated, its performance suffers. Even if you don’t see glaring issues on the front end, Google notices on the back end.
Their complex algorithm no longer prioritizes keyword relevancy — instead, it’s prioritizing the quality of a site overall and how that impacts the entire user experience. A complete and detailed analysis of your site will help you identify the areas that need to be optimized or improved, and remove any issues that are impacting its performance. The result is peace of mind that your customers are getting the very best experience (and first impression) possible from your site and Google is rewarding you nicely in search rankings.
What does a website audit look for?
There are a number of different site audits that can be performed depending on what you’re looking to evaluate:
- ADA Audit.
ADA, or Americans with Disabilities Act, created a set of standards for all electronic and information technology that enable accessibility to persons with disabilities. ADA compliance is quickly becoming one of the most essential aspects of a website — not only by protecting your brand reputation and increasing your customer base, but also in avoiding a lawsuit.With close to 57 million consumers with some sort of disability, these audits are essential to ensure everyone is able to access and interact with your site. These ADA audits will focus on elements like alternate texts for each website element, color contrast between various HTML components/ images, the sequential order of elements in regard to headings and HTML structure, and more. The ADA guidelines are constantly changing, so performing these audits regularly ensure all elements of your site are designed to expand your audience reach and inclusion.
- SEO Audit
An SEO audit will dive into everything that Google factors into its algorithm to determine where you rank in search. It will analyze the keywords in your text to determine level of relevancy, it will look for broken or incorrect links (which can decrease a user’s confidence in a site by 50%!), over 200 different factors that can affect site traffic, metadata, URL optimization, video optimization, and more.These audits will offer a comprehensive analysis into how your site components relate to best practices, identifying as many foundational issues affecting your organic search performance as possible. If you’re specifically looking to boost your ranking in search and start getting found by more potential customers, then this is key to your site audit process.
- Performance Audit
Knowing how your site performs across multiple browsers and devices is key. Not everyone is using the same technology, so these performance audits will check a list of the most highly-used browsers specifically to ensure that your site is performing its best no matter where your potential and existing customers come from.This audit will cover a number of areas. It will first focus more on aesthetics, considering how elements and interactive components behave across each browser. Is everything in a logical order? Are buttons and features easy to see and navigate? It will also consider load times, analyzing a number of elements, from images, CSS, and sources, to find any issues or outdated components that may be slowing down your site speed. Contact forms and data entry fields are also analyzed to ensure every step is quick, easy to navigate, and error-free. Everything that could impact the user experience comes into play here, which in turn, also improves your search ranking.
With the rules of web development changing so often, a big component of all these audit types is identifying outdated or unnecessary issues that are hidden below the surface. With constant updates from site hosts and search engines, older formats can be slowing down your site speed or disrupting its functionality all together. Dev elements continue to be smaller and faster, so anything oversized or too heavy will only negatively impact your site’s performance and put you at a disadvantage to competitors.
No matter what type of website audit you’re performing, your key objectives need to be driving every decision. Not every brand is using their sites in the same way (i.e., ecommerce, brand awareness, etc.), so understanding what you want your site to achieve can better help guide your site auditor (QA Analyst) and lead to a more effective result.
How often should you do a site audit?
If you are using a CMS or back engine, you’re going to want to perform an audit as often as every update. But as a general rule of thumb, you should look to do an audit at least twice a year.
If you’re ready to bring your site up to full speed and keep visitors coming back for more, talk to our audit experts at Assemble. We can provide a comprehensive look into your site’s health, performance, and speed and provide a detailed report on next steps to make sure it’s achieving your goals and exceeding customer expectations. For more information on our website audits, contact us today.