February is the month of love and Valentine's Day is just a few, short days away. Couples make special plans, reminisce about old times, and perhaps make plans for new adventures together. This time of year is often a time to reflect and nurture the important relationships in our lives.
Think all this lovey-dovey activity is just for your personal relationships? Not at all! Why not use this as a time to also show your website some love? If you're a business owner, you should be actively engaged with your site. Afterall, it's one of the main partnerships you have.
You probably visit your site every day. Maybe you check your visitor stats. Or, upload fresh content regularly to keep your other partner (i.e., Google) happy.
You have been showering your site with attention, haven't you? Or, are you letting your relationship languish? Don't! Instead, show your website some love by doing one simple thing — an audit.
Why do a Website Audit?
An audit is a great way to take the pulse of your website. Taking a look under your virtual hood will help you:
- Get a snapshot of what's working
- Identify problems (especially ones you were not aware of)
- Create goals for improvement and work toward them
- Improve the user experience (which can also improve engagement)
- Create a plan for regular testing and auditing
Knowing the strengths and weak points of your website will also help you figure your site is still meeting your expectations and current needs. Just because it made you happy when you first started out together, things may have changed. This will be especially true if your business model or services have evolved or changed drastically.
How Much Time is Needed to do an Audit?
The length of time you will need to review your website will vary based on the size of your site (e.g., number of pages), the type of audit that you're conducting, as well as the complexity of any issues you find. The amount of time you will need will also be impacted by whether you do it yourself or hire an outside agency to do it for you.
That said, consider setting a deadline for completion as well as a timeline for the parts of your site that will be audited first.
- You may decide to focus on finding and fixing security issues across 24-48 hours (or sooner).
- And, then follow up by allotting 2-4 days to review and update your main website pages (like About, Contact, Services, etc.).
- For the next step, you might use the next 7-10 days to optimize your most popular posts (use Google Analytics to help with this).
It's also possible that you might work on several tasks at the same time. You could have one set of team members doing the content audit while another team simultaneously focuses on red flags or issues that might result in penalties.
No matter how you choose to approach your audit, be sure to create a written plan of attack (an app like Trello or Evernote can help) and estimate how long you'll need. Be sure to include specific action steps needed to complete each phase of your audit.
3 Parts of Your Website to Audit First
As with any relationship that might need a bit of tender loving care, you may not know where to begin. There are several types of audits that you can conduct, so take some time to consider where you'd like to put your focus first.
In addition to assuring that your site is secure, here are three areas you can start taking a closer look at:
One of the key features of your site is the content. Does your content speak to the people who visit website or does it turn them off? As you look at your blog posts, landing pages, and marketing copy, ask yourself these questions (and more):
- Does my website have valuable posts or just crappy posts? Are they stale and outdated? Or, fresh and juicy?
- What criteria will I use to update or remove content altogether?
- Am I using the right keywords?
- Is my copy written for humans?
- Do I have broken links?
- Does my site have a lot of text and very few images?
- Have I included internal and external links (where appropriate)?
- Duplicate content anywhere?
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Have you given your website a test drive lately? How easy is it to navigate and find information? Is it too confusing and filled with a myriad of links? If your site isn't organized and easy to get around, it won't help you captivate your audience and keep them coming back for more. In fact, they will likely get frustrated and end up searching elsewhere. Two words: No bueno.
You'll need to do a bit of investigating to see where your site visitors fall out of love with your site. Use the Google Analytics tool, In-Page Analytics, to determine if your layout is optimal and driving traffic to the places you want users to go.
You can also use a heat map tool (like Crazy Egg) to see see which links get the most clicks and how far down your web page people scroll. If your visitors aren't converting, the heat map will help you figure out why. You'll see where people get stuck and click away from your site.
But, the good news is that you can generate a bit of heat of your own — with great content and improved navigation — to draw them back in!
Did you know that 40 percent of people will leave a web page if it takes longer than three seconds to load? Three seconds! (Source) Clearly, expectations are high and no one seems likes waiting around for something special to happen. It's no surprise then that Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) have become popular recently.
If the pages on your website take too long to load, you may not get another chance to capture the attention of those website visitors who bounce. This is because they just might never return. Slow loading times are also likely to reduce your conversions and cause your beloved website to rank lower in the SERPs.
Not sure which of your web pages open slowly? Use tools like Page Speed by Google or Quick Sprout's Website Analyzer to see how quickly your site is loading. After analyzing your site, both applications will give you a speed score (X out of 100), offer suggestions for ways you can improve how quickly your web pages open, and provide you with a user experience score.
Quick Sprout goes a bit further and gives you an SEO (letter) score and social media impact summary, and lets you see how your site compares to three of your competitors.
These are just three areas of your website to check out. To get a more detailed explanation of how to do a website audit, have a look at this step-by-step tutorial from the folks over at Moz. This audit checklist will also come in handy.
So, let this be a reminder to spend some quality time with your website. If it hasn't been top of mind lately or if you just haven't gotten around to giving it well deserved attention, there's still time! Kickstart your relationship now and show your website some love by doing an audit.