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5 Items to Put at the Top of Your Website Audit Checklist

5 Items to Put at the Top of Your Website Audit Checklist

Originally published Nov. 30, 2022. Updated Jan. 25, 2024.

A company can create the greatest content in the world, but if its website isn’t set up for success, no one is going to find it.

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A range of disturbances can cause visitors to flee from your website before getting any value from your content. For example, a load time of longer than three seconds causes countless website visits to be abandoned. Having to reload or resize to navigate the site on a mobile device is another annoyance. And a single pop-up can cause a once-willing visitor to slam their laptop shut — or chuck their phone across the room.

A technically sound website is easy to use, fast-loading, and easily crawled by search engine bots. If your website has the proper technical setup, search engines can more easily understand what your site is about and enable you to reach your target audience in search results. From there, you can forge meaningful connections with your ideal prospects.

But how do you know whether your website is up and running and performing well enough to keep visitors engaged? Start with a website audit.

A 5-Step Web Audit Checklist to Improve Your Site

Why do a website audit? Auditing the technical aspects of your website can unearth any issues that might lead to poor user experience and reduced visibility by search engines, such as slow load speed, broken links, and incorrect redirects. A website audit can also give you an understanding of how well your site helps generate leads and convert visitors, highlighting areas where attention is needed to improve these aspects.

After performing a website audit for one of our clients, AMD Global Telemedicine, we found that one blog's performance was trending downward. After updating the content — including adding new keywords and backlinks and fixing spacing issues — it received 763 page views with an average of 6.6 minutes spent on the page and 639 site entrances. Those results wouldn't have been possible without first auditing AMD's site.

Now that you know the particulars of why do a website audit, you might be wondering exactly how to do a website audit. The following technical considerations can form a sort of site audit checklist that you can use to ensure your website is performing at its best. This is not an exhaustive list, of course, but it’s a great starting point for creating a strong, high-performing website that ranks well. Let’s dive in!

1. Fix your page load speed.

When learning how to fix a website, load speed should be near the top of your website audit checklist. It’s the factor that has the potential to close a door in your prospect’s face rather than welcome them warmly into your world. It’s also an important SEO ranking factor. Plus, a site that loads in one second has a conversion rate three times higher than one that loads in five seconds. An optimal page load speed is one to two seconds. Let it drag much longer, and visitors will notice and start to think they’ve stumbled upon an antique.

You can monitor your load speed by using tracker and analyzer apps — such as the page load time Chrome extension, Google PageSpeed Insights, or GTmetrix — and comparing the page speed to the bounce rate. These tools provide specific insights and recommendations, such as optimizing images, leveraging browser caching, and minifying CSS, JavaScript, and HTML.

Then, remove or streamline any features that are dragging your site down, like unnecessary plug-ins, excessively large images, incorrect redirects, or a lack of caching. You should see those metrics improve, but remember to regularly monitor and update your website to maintain fast load times.

2. Optimize your metadata.

Checking and updating metadata is a crucial aspect of conducting a technical website audit. Metadata, including elements like title tags, meta descriptions, and header tags, serves as a primary communication channel between a website and search engines. It helps search engines understand the content and context of your web pages, thereby influencing how these pages are indexed and ranked in search results. Effective metadata is linked to improved visibility and click-through rates, as it provides concise and relevant information to users in search engine results pages.

Beyond SEO, metadata plays a vital role in enhancing the user experience. Title tags and meta descriptions, for instance, are often the first elements a user encounters when they come across your website in search results. These snippets act as a brief preview of the website's content, setting expectations for the user.

Well-crafted metadata can significantly increase the likelihood of a user clicking through to your site. Be sure to check that your metadata accurately reflects the current content of your website, as outdated or misleading metadata can lead to a poor user experience and increased bounce rates.

3. Use an SEO-friendly URL structure.

URLs act as signposts for the various pages of your website, and their parameters send crucial information to direct users to the right place. URLs also appear in search results right alongside your page titles and meta descriptions. So, making these one-liners as succinct and meaningful as possible can give people an understanding of where the links will take them and encourage them to click through.

To make URLs more SEO-friendly, consider including keywords, using descriptive and easy-to-parse language, and sorting pages into relevant categories that can help users make sense of them. Use hyphens (-) instead of underscores (_) to separate words. Lastly, ensure that the URL structure is consistent across your website, making it easier for both users and search engines to understand and navigate your site.

4. Check your mobile-friendliness.

The debate over the importance of mobile-friendliness in website design has seen its share of fluctuations. Google emphasized mobile optimization with updates to its ranking system at one point, stressing that mobile-friendly pages are strongly recommended, but the landscape has continued to evolve. More recently, Google signaled a shift by retiring the "mobile usability" report in Search Console, suggesting that mobile-friendliness, while still relevant, may not be as pivotal in ranking as before.

Despite these changes, the fundamental fact remains: The majority of internet browsing now happens on mobile devices. So, regularly reviewing and enhancing your site's mobile-friendliness should be a staple in your website audit checklist. This could include switching to HTTPS, checking load times for images and pages, and making sure any buttons or calls to action appear in the right scale on mobile displays. Additionally, ensure that your website uses responsive design, meaning it automatically adjusts to fit the screen size of any device. Tools like Google's Mobile-Friendly Test can assess how well your website works on mobile devices.

5. Embrace structured data.

Having structured data means organizing your website’s information in a way that’s helpful to search engines and searchers. It’s a standardized format that helps websites speak the same language. Many website owners still aren’t using structured data, but it has become a necessary feature thanks to Google’s preference for sites in standardized formats.

Having structured data can also put you in the running for benefits such as featured snippets, greater click-through rates, and faster indexing because you’re helping Google find and understand your content more easily.

To implement structured data, use schema markup: a code (i.e., semantic vocabulary) that you put on your website to help search engines return more informative results for users. Identify the most relevant schema types for your business (e.g., articles, events, products). You can use tools like Google's Structured Data Markup Helper to generate the appropriate markup. Then, after adding structured data to your web pages, use Google's Rich Results Test to validate the markup and ensure it's correctly implemented.

When considering how to improve your website, a technical website audit can be a great place to start. Keep this simple site audit checklist in mind to make your website faster, more readable, and more secure while cozying up to Google’s all-important algorithm and helping searchers find you in search results.

Picture of Lauren Tellman

About Lauren Tellman

I'm a content-obsessed word person with a passion for finding the coziest coffee shop in town. By day, I'm the content marketing manager at Intero Digital's Content & PR Division. In my downtime, you can find me hanging out with my husband and son, reading a book, sipping a latte, drawing, hand lettering, or watching "The Office" for the zillionth time.

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