The How, What and Why of Running a Website Audit
The aim of a website audit is to review your site’s overall performance and functionality, as well as its ability to be found by both search engines and users. The more visible a site is in search engines, the greater its traffic and exposure to potential users. A website audit should also focus on key performance metrics, including page speed, and user experience scores.
Thinking of creating a website? You should definitely factor in running a full website audit once it’s complete. A website audit is also a must after making changes to your site. Updates are great for a website, but since changes (however minor) can have an impact on traffic and search engine visibility—a website audit can make sure nothing has gone wrong, or is missing.
A website audit can be a straightforward process, easily integrated into any website maintenance schedule. With this in mind we are going to explain what a website audit is, why it’s important, and how you can implement one regularly.
What is a website audit?
A website audit is a comprehensive analysis of a site in terms of its performance (including page speed, technical issues and user experience), and its ability to be found on search engines. A full site audit enables you to understand how your website scores according to these metrics. It also pinpoints glaring technical and site maintenance issues that need to be addressed.
Once you have moved on from how to make a website, and into the realms of how to manage one, a website audit should become a priority. This will help you have a clear understanding of your site's functionality and performance.
There are several types of website audits:
General SEO audit: Addresses how well your site is optimized for SEO.
Content SEO audit: Focuses specifically on content quality and gaps.
Technical SEO audit: Isolates backend and technological issues with your site.
Performance audit: Looks at page speed, load times and Core Web Vitals.
UX audit: Deals with user experience and the functionality of your site, including navigation and the design.
Why run a website audit?
From ensuring your ability to be found in search, to providing an optimal user experience and more—there are many reasons why a website audit is important whether your site is new or recently updated. The success of your website relies on your understanding of its performance both in search and for a user—and on being able to identify how to improve this.
Now that you understand its importance, you’re probably wondering how often you should run a website audit. The general recommendation is to run a full audit on small websites at least once a year. Larger websites (both in terms of amount of traffic and the number of webpages) may require a more frequent check—potentially up to two-three times a year.
We also recommend mini audits of your site as often as you can. A mini audit might include checking your site's functionality yourself, making sure navigation and click through actions are working as they should. It can also include checking coverage issues affecting your site through Google Search Console, or as recommended by other SEO audit tools. A mini audit allows you to stay on top of your site's health, and allows you to deal with issues as and when they arise.
How to run a website audit
We are now going to look at the main ways in which you can audit your website:
01. Assess website performance and page speed
All website audits should begin with a review of your site's page speed scores. Since 2010 Google has prioritized page speed when deciding what to make visible in search. It became even more important following the June-August 2021 Google Page Experience Update.
What does this mean in terms of a website audit? Assessing website performance and page speed, with website analytics tools, should be an essential part of your auditing process. Pages that are slow to load can bring down the authority of your entire site, and these issues should not be ignored.
With Wix, you can access both Google PageSpeed Insights and the Wix Site Speed Dashboard from your Wix Analytics in your editor. Once you identify problems with page speed or other relevant Core Web Vitals, you’ll decide how to improve their performance. This might mean design or content changes—or both.
Just bear in mind that when conducting a website audit, it’s common to see different web analytics and performance scores for your site’s mobile and desktop versions. Prioritizing performance on mobile may require specific mobile-focused design and website speed optimization changes in order to push up your score. Google leads with mobile-first indexing, so ensuring your website audit covers your mobile performance as well should be a priority.
02. Check SEO on-page optimizations
In order for your website to have a greater chance of being found on search engines, it has to be SEO optimized. An SEO focused website audit will help identify if your website is visible to search engines and what you can do to improve this.
There are a number of ways to run a simple SEO website audit. We recommend using tools such as Screaming Frog or Deepcrawl. They’re easy to use and can let you know—within minutes—what your site is lacking SEO-wise and how to fix it.
Missing optimization data is one of the most easily identifiable, and fixable, discoveries from an SEO website audit. This includes meta tags to canonicals, to alt tags, and everything in between. With Wix SEO tools you can easily customize SEO optimizations, including meta tags, which will boost your chances of being found on search.
Wix also offers an SEO setup checklist that ensures you have covered the SEO essentials before getting your site up and running. This is a great place to begin your SEO journey and a great foundation for the longer term SEO optimization and auditing plan you should build.
03. Understand content quality and gaps
Ranking well on search is not just about being fully optimized for search engines, it’s also about making sure your site has good quality, relevant content for your users. In order to make sure you’re achieving this, you’ll need to understand if you have content gaps.
Content gaps happen when you’re missing topics your target audience is looking for. These content gaps, when they exist, prevent you from ranking in search where your competitors are clearly visible. If you’re not there, you could be losing out on important traffic and leads.
To understand more about potential content gaps we suggest plugging your website into Ahrefs. This platform will show you how your content ranks for specific keywords against your main competitors. Then you can understand how to bridge the gap with new material, or if you need an entirely new content strategy.
There are many ways to check the quality and impact of your content, but to understand this better you should delve deeper into the behavioral analytics data within your Google Analytics Universal account (Google Analytics 4 is a whole new ballgame, for all of us, and we look forward to tackling that in a different article). Within a Wix site, head to Wix Analytics, and then check out the traffic overview and people overview for a closer look at how users are interacting with your site.
Your behavioral analytics data can show you:
If users stay on your page after reaching it from search (this is known as bounce rate).
How long users are spending on any given page.
If users are moving onto other pages within your site.
This data can help you understand if your site and, specifically, your site’s content is hitting the mark with users. If you discover it’s not, you probably have areas to improve on, and should consider reviewing the content, the design, and UX of your website.
04. Isolate technical SEO issues
Website audits are important to identify technical-related SEO problems. Some of the most commonly identified SEO roadblocks include 404 errors (page not found) and non-indexed pages. Within Wix Analytics you can easily identify 404s and then take action to address them, with redirects.
A page that is no-index won’t appear in search results. You can check for these issues from the “Coverage” section of your Google Search Console account. Better yet, opt for a website builder that integrates SEO tools within its editor. Wix SEO allows you to identify and fix all of these issues—rom bulk redirects of out-of-date pages, to instant Google indexing. Looking to take your technical SEO audit further? With Deepcrawl you can perform a comprehensive audit of your site's technical SEO health, and then fix issues that arise.
05. Test user experience
Understanding how your website works behind the scenes is an important part of a website audit—but don’t neglect your frontend. If users are struggling to navigate your site, you may have issues that affect website performance, including load times and overall usability.
A bad user experience decreases user engagement, which in the long term can impact on your site’s overall authority. This can have an impact on how well your site ranks in search and cloud its visibility. In the short term, a low engagement rate also means the loss of potential conversions.
A user experience website audit can take many forms. Start by having someone else use your site, and ask them for feedback. Remember to evaluate their experience of your site’s navigation, the quality of your content and their ability to see and respond to calls-to-action.
A UX website audit will also help you understand the impact of your website design on the user experience as well. You will need feedback from several users to get a clear picture of your site’s usability, but if the same roadblocks come up repeatedly, it’s time to run a UX website audit.
06. Monitor website accessibility
It’s important that every user who arrives on your site is able to access all of your content and features. An accessibility audit can help you make sure that your site is usable for everyone, including those with disabilities. Wix user? The Wix Accessibility Wizard allows you to scan your site for issues that might be hindering access for all users. It identifies these, and then supports you with clear, implementable solutions to resolve them. That way everyone gets to interact with your site.
To learn how to build your own accessible website visit our Accessibility 101: Build your accessible website online course.
Website audit checklist
To help you visualize the big picture of a website audit, here is a simple checklist you can refer back to anytime:
Website Performance: Check your page speed and Core Web Vitals
SEO Optimization: Isolate and update missing information
Content SEO Optimization: Prioritize quality and fill in the gaps
Technical SEO issues: Pinpoint and fix
User Experience: Check functionality and navigation
Website Accessibility: Identify and resolve barriers to accessibility
By Rebecca Tomasis
Organic Growth Expert