How to Perform an Annual Website Audit and Why it Matters
When was the last time you looked at your website — like really gave it a thorough going over? A year, two years, when it was built a decade ago?
Auditing your website is similar to getting an annual check-up for your body. It is a time that is set aside each year to check that all systems are working properly. Unless there is something glaringly wrong with your website (or your body) it can be easy to overlook the need for a regular audit.
Yet, if you want to AVOID the major issues that can crop up on the worldwide web, then an annual website audit is the BEST way to make sure your website is functioning the way it should. But here’s the best part. Performing an annual website audit can be both fun and affordable. In fact, if you’re really into DIY projects, you can even do it yourself.
Let’s take a closer look at why you should be auditing your website every year, and how to make it happen!
What is a Website Audit?
These days your website is your virtual storefront — the face of your business.
When your website is out of date or unclear, it is akin to letting your storefront get outdated or your signage confusing or hard to read as potential customers drive by. Just as you would inventory your store for needs, repair projects, or changes, a website audit allows you to inventory your website for those very same reasons.
A website audit is an in-depth look at the pieces of your website that influence your visibility and ranking on the internet. An audit is your way to prevent the issues that can impact leads, sales, and your company’s growth.
While professional audits perform a deep dive into the technical, structural, and design elements of your website — evaluating even the performance of your digital marketing, blogging, and social media — your annual at-home audit is not as involved.
A quick self-audit performed by YOU can help you determine some important and possibly necessary changes on your website, including:
- Page load speed: Your website should be up and running within 5.3 seconds or less!
- Page size: Is your website taking too long to load? It could be that your pages are too large.
- Broken Links: Customers may be jetting from your site when they click on a link that doesn’t take them where they need to go.
- Mobile responsiveness: 75% of web users prefer a mobile-friendly website.
- Image size: Still have page load speed issues? Image size is also a main contributor.
- Bounce Rate: Are visitors staying on your site or bouncing? This data point can help you determine which pages need to be revamped.
- SEO: How well does your page rank on Google compared to competitors? It may be time to rethink your SEO strategy.
- Visitor behavior: Determine which pages visitors love, and which ones they avoid.
The goal of your website is to both inform your visitors and convert them into paying customers. If you aren’t seeing those results from your site, it is likely time to perform your annual website audit and find out what aspects of your website could use a little TLC.
How to Perform an Annual Website Audit
Performing a website audit can take time and even a bit of money — whether you do it yourself or hire a professional. In order to get the most in-depth data on your website, you’ll want to invest in some paid tools. However, there are ways to access free tools and still gain some important insights into your website.
- One of my favorite free tools is Hubspot’s Website Grader. The website grader takes just moments to use and provides a great starting point to understand how your website is performing technically. Plugin your website URL and your email address, and you are on your way to better understanding your website’s performance.
From the graphic above, you can see how Website Grader helps analyze the areas of your site that need attention. In this case, the number of HTTP requests and the speed are both issues. This website owner can see that they need to combine files as well as work on their page speed in order to optimize their site’s performance.
The Website Grader will also show you if there are more technical issues with your website, such as code that isn’t working properly or images that are too large. You’ll receive a score for four different areas:
You’ll also receive recommendations on how to fix the issues!
2. My next favorite FREE tool is Google Analytics. If you have a website, you should have Google Analytics. No question.
While Website Grader shows you some of the technical issues with your site, Google Analytics gives you insight into user behavior.
Why does this matter? Because the way your visitors behave helps you understand where your website needs help. Does your audience love one page and instantly leave another? How does the page they stay on for minutes compare with the one they leave in seconds?
Some of the key data that you gain from Google Analytics is:
- Number of visitors to your site
- Bounce rate
- Session duration
- Behavior (a.k.a.how visitors interact with each page on your site)
Google Analytics can help you determine if certain pages on your site aren’t doing their job: driving visitors to make a purchase. A high bounce rate and low session duration can indicate that you need to update your website copy, clarify your product or services, and work on your calls to action (CTAs).
3. My next favorite tools are both paid tools, but they do offer free trials for new users. Both Ahrefs and SEMrush allow you to audit the keywords and ranking of your website. You can analyze your page ranking for specific terms as well as how your competitors rank for those same keywords.
This information can help you find the right keywords to use in your website copy, your blogs, and even on social media posts. All of which will help improve your SEO.
Putting Your Audit Data to Work
The most important part of performing an annual website audit is using the information you learn. Does your website need to speed up? Start reducing your image sizes and page sizes to optimize page speed.
Do you need to improve your bounce rate and how long your visitors stay on your website? Consider investing in help from a copywriter and/or a web designer to improve your design and website content.
When your doctor finishes your annual checkup, they often leave you with suggestions for how to improve or maintain your health. It is up to you to put those suggestions into action. The same is true of your annual website audit.
And, just like you may seek support from a trainer, nutritionist, or other healthcare providers to help you implement those changes, you can also get professional support with your website.
If the information you receive from your audit feels overwhelming, or the technical details are challenging to interpret, you can always get customized feedback and an even more in-depth audit from a professional web designer.
Get Started with This Free Download!
However you choose to check the health of your website, the important thing is to commit to performing an annual website audit. Even a quick and simple audit goes a long way in keeping your website fresh and inviting and helping you gain momentum in your business.
To really help you get started with your annual website audit, subscribe and Download your free Website Audit Checklist for more great tools and an easy step-by-step self-audit guide.