A website audit is a full analysis of the many factors that can determine its visibility in search engines, usability, and effectiveness. In this article, we provide a comprehensive list of what to look for in your website to determine if it is created to have the best possible results for your marketing and branding efforts.
Starting with a look at your website’s current analytics, you can determine how well your website is achieving. Then, by scoring your website’s performance, SEO, design, content, and usability, you can determine ways to improve it in order to maximize its potential. While not all of these may be required to have an effective website, if you find you are having problems related to any of the areas listed below, utilizing these best practices may help to solve them.
Before you begin
Generate a Google Analytics and Google Search Console report
In order to determine the effectiveness of your current website, it is helpful to look at your analytics. This will provide a baseline with which you can measure your progress. If you don’t have analytics set up for your website, skip this section but not before you set up a new analytics account to start tracking your website’s metrics.
Backup your files and database and test on a local development server or staging site
Another word of caution before you begin: making modifications to your website may result in errors due to conflicting theme or plugin files or a variety of other reasons. Before adding or updating any part of your website, be sure to have a reliable backup system in place so that you can revert your website back to a previous version if needed. I highly recommend ManageWP for its overall Worpress website management features, ease of use and affordability. Other popular options are Backup Buddy and UpdraftPlus.
Another recommendation is to copy your website to a local development server or staging site which you can set up on your own, or may be offered through your hosting company. I use the ServerPress DesktopServer for easy and quick WordPress development website creation and management. Or for staging sites, one of my preferred web hosts Siteground offers 1-click staging site setups.
WordPress security is a topic of huge importance for every website owner. Each week, Google blacklists around 20,000 websites for malware and around 50,000 for phishing. If you are serious about your website, then you need to pay attention to the WordPress security best practices.
The following websites and WordPress plugins will perform a free security analysis of your website and offer extra features for their paid version:
2. Speed & Performance
Fast page loading time is essential to improve your visitor’s experience. People are more likely to leave your site if they have to wait too long for it to load. Google may also decrease your website’s ranking if your page speed scores are poor. More information on WordPress optimization can be found here: https://wordpress.org/support/article/optimization
The following are free sites yo can use to test your website and generate a list of recommendations for updates to improve its speed and performance:
3. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
There are many free services to run an SEO report on your website. They typically give suggestions that also include website speed and performance since it is a major part of optimizing your website for search.
Here are a few recommended services for generating SEO audits reports:
4. Design / Branding
Your website is the central hub for all of your branding and marketing efforts. Because of this, it needs to maintain a consistent look, sound and feel like all of your other branded materials. It is best if you have created a brand guidelines document to determine how well your website is adhering to your brand. If you haven’t yet, I recommend creating one first prior to making updates to your website’s design and content to ensure that it is consistent and cohesive across all the pages of your website.
Usability means user-centered design. Both the design and development process are focused around the prospective user to make sure their goals, mental models, and requirements are met — to build a website that is efficient and easy to use. Keep in mind that the user experience intended for one type of user may be drastically different than another. For this reason, I recommend developing a couple user personas in order to focus on a specific type of user and which kind of experience might be best suitable for them.
Another vital part of a website’s usability is it’s accessibility. Website accessibility are a set of standards that are implemented in the development of each page in order to aid in your website’s usage by people with disabilities.
6. Website Information Architecture
Website architecture refers to the way you structure your website to ensure you meet our business goals while delivering a great experience for your users. The first stage in any website design is to develop the site’s overall information architecture – how are various elements of the website interconnected and does it make sense for the customer visiting the site.
Website content is the text, imagery, videos, audio and graphics that make up the user’s experience. How you develop and utilize your website’s content will play a large part in how effective it is at marketing to your potential customers. The purpose of all content on your website should be to either inform, engage, or persuade your target audience to take action. A content audit takes a look at the content throughout your website and assesses what is working and what is not based on your SEO and marketing strategy. Once your content audit is completed, you will have a list of pages on your website that may need to be updated, consolidated or removed based on the relative effectiveness of their content.
APX Design now offers expert WordPress website audits. Learn more or contact us today to discuss how you can receive a custom report listing detailed recommendations for how to improve the performance, SEO, usability, and brand consistency of your WordPress website.
Download the FREE WordPress Website Audit Worksheet.
With the WordPress Website Audit Worksheet, you will get a complete checklist of all the major areas of your website to assess for improvements, plus descriptions for how and what tools to use.