Your Business Website: Isn’t It Time For A Second Look?
How do you know if your business website is driving your customers to your competitors?
It’s every business owner’s worst nightmare.
Here’s how it can go: your perfect customer is looking for exactly what you do. They’re furiously searching for your exact offer on the phone and they click on your site. It takes a few seconds to load and then, it hits them.
What the visitor sees is an outdated site with no call to action that looks wonky on a smartphone.
The visitors don’t even take the time to say, “Ugh!” They just click away to never be seen or heard from again.
And, you never even know they voted with their click. No phone call. No chance. Just another lost opportunity.
Now, every business has some lost opportunities. It’s simply part of doing business. But, then, there are the businesses that are actively chasing business away.
There are companies out there that have websites their sales staff are so embarrassed by that they actively discourage prospects from going to the website.
You can ask your staff for honest feedback, but you’re the boss. Will your people risk being honest with you when you can fire them? Maybe.
But, that’s where an objective website audit can come in. As the saying goes, it never hurts to get a second pair of eyes on how things are going.
Is there such a thing? Won’t all digital marketing nerds try to sell me something? The truth is that there are plenty of digital marketing agencies out there that are honest enough to tell you the truth about your site.
What’s A Website Audit & Why Should I Care?
A website audit is a process of examining your site’s design, code, structure, performance, and content for errors and potential improvements.
Websites are complex entities. Built by many people at different times, websites typically contain numerous components that work together to create a user experience. Due to this complexity, issues can arise that may prevent visitors from having the best possible experience on your site. That’s why there is a big difference between professional web design and, well your nephew (unless he’s a professional web designer). A website audit can detect these potential problems and provide you with recommended solutions.
A website audit is also an opportunity to look at your site from a fresh perspective. On a daily basis, we’re often too close to our own sites and projects to recognize mistakes that could be hampering their performance. An audit can help you communicate issues internally while providing a clear objective assessment of what needs to be fixed.
Losing sales over a website issue is just not acceptable. This is why it’s important to have a process for staying on top of your site’s performance. Customers expect the best from your site and they won’t wait around for an outage or a sub-par experience to be resolved.
Here are the reasons why you should schedule an audit of your website today.
- Get honest feedback on your site’s design
- Catch critical errors before they crash your site.
- Get actionable recommendations to improve your website’s performance.
- Pinpoint problem areas with your content that could be turning customers away.
- Enlist the help of experts to get the most out of your website investment.
What An Audit Should Look At?
An audit should look at each component of your site, from the design and coding to content and even server performance. By examining all areas, you can identify exactly what needs to be tweaked in order to improve user experiences.
There are two aspects to a website audit. There’s the subjective aspect that provides feedback on the look and feel of the site and whether that’s right for your audience. Then, there’s the technical aspect of your site that looks at basic performance issues. This is the objective part of the audit. Just the facts ma’am.
Other things to have someone look at:
1) Code – Is my code valid? Are there errors that could be preventing my site from running smoothly? Is there code that is no longer being used?
2) Structure – Are all necessary pages on my site? Do they have proper file names and meta descriptions/titles? Can users easily find what they’re looking for? Does the page layout make sense? Is there a practical call to action (CTA)?
3) Page Load Speed- Google says that if it takes longer than 3 seconds, you’re losing more and more of your visitors. People want fast-loading sites or they move on no matter how badly they want what you do.
4) Content (and SEO) – Is someone doing what they say they’re doing? We see a lot of companies that are paying for SEO and there is a distinct lack of evidence that the work is getting done.
In addition to these three main aspects, your audit should also consider usability issues. Visitors to your site should be able to find what they’re looking for as quickly as possible. If they have a poor experience, they’re going to leave and not come back. By examining the size of your site’s pages, the length of your URLs, and loading speeds, you can identify potential issues that are affecting user experience. If you find any, your audit should provide suggestions for ways to remedy them.
A website that functions properly will help create trust between your organization and its customers. A website that has received a thorough review is more likely to be viewed as professional and reliable than one that looks like it was thrown up without much thought.
A website audit should also cover other important topics like mobile responsiveness, speed (server-side and page-load), security issues (i.e. malware or SQL injections), and accessibility requirements.
Why You Should Have Your Website Audit Done by a Professional
There are benefits to having your website audited by a professional. Not only will they be able to provide comprehensive, unbiased results, but they can also customize their report for your organization’s unique needs. By identifying issues specific to your site and industry, you’ll receive truly actionable recommendations for solving them.
If done correctly, your website audit will provide you with clear steps for enhancing your site’s performance and thereby improving the likelihood of earning conversions.
Factors To Consider
While many of the technical issues you discover will be unique to your site, there are some broad categories that you should definitely look at.
By examining these factors, you can see exactly how your site stacks up against the competition. Be sure to give each factor attention because they are areas that are critical to user experience.
Is your site easy to use? Is it mobile-friendly? Can visitors find what they’re looking for easily? Do you have a search function that works properly on all devices? Does your site provide the information users are searching for in a clear, concise manner?
For SEO audits, things like page titles, meta descriptions, and headings are especially important.
Are all pages on your site accessible to users that employ assistive technologies? Does your website comply with WCAG 2.0 guidelines? If not, can you make it compliant without compromising the design or layout?
Is your page size too large? If so, can I make my pages smaller without sacrificing valuable content? Is your site hosted on a fast server? Are all images optimized for web use? What can I do to improve load speeds if they are subpar?
Is there malware or signs of malware anywhere on your site? Do all of your pages have secure connections? Are any of your pages vulnerable to SQL injection attacks?
Are all images, videos, and files easily accessible on a single page? Is there duplicate content anywhere on the site? If so, is it being prioritized correctly for web crawlers or humans? Are all images optimized for web use?
Is my site’s title tag correct and well optimized? Is my meta description included on every page of my site (if it is a product, service, or article page)? Is each URL keyword-optimized and written in a natural tone of voice to create the appearance of quality content? Does my site have a high readability score from the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level formula? All of these questions and more can affect your search engine optimization and how well your site does in the search results.
Is my organization properly listed in Google Maps and are Google Ads functioning correctly? Is there an online presence for my business that is separate from my website, but connected to it through search terms and keywords? Do I have a local NAP citation for use in local directories?
Is my site mobile responsive? Does it look good and function properly on a mobile device? If not, is there a separate mobile version of my website that users can access from their phones or tablets?
If you have an e-commerce site, check to see if the shopping cart works well on mobile devices.
If you’ve been around as long as we have, you’ll see and hear enough nightmare stories about how bad websites have seriously damaged a business. We don’t want to keep you up at night, but here are a couple of the ones we’ve seen lately
A while ago now, Google started insisting on every site having an SSL certificate. This turns your site from http://domain.com to https://domain.com. Now, Google had their reasons (valid or otherwise), but these days, if your site doesn’t have a valid SSL (or https:) you risk seeing a pretty serious warning message that can stop a visitor from ever going to your site. This kind of error can completely shut down your phones like you didn’t pay the phone bill.
Your Site Has Taken A Vacation
Having a business website is like having an employee that works 24/7/365- until it doesn’t. We recently had an SEO client whose site went down due to a mix-up with keeping the hosting payments current. It’s a simple fact that if you don’t pay the hosting, the site goes bye-bye.
If enough time lapses (think 30 days) the hosting company will no longer have backups and your site would need to be rebuilt entirely.
Luckily, we were doing active SEO on his site and we update his site every Monday, so we caught it, warned him and got him back online quickly.
Keeping Your Vendors Honest
Here’s why it’s always a good idea to get someone to take a second look at your website:
We’ve been in our storefront shop for 9 years or so now, and in that time, roughly 75% of the people we meet with tell us stories of others in our industry that have overpromised and underdelivered. There have been countless stories of people paying web designers who disappear in the night, SEO nerds who promise page one rankings and don’t do the work, and other nightmares.
The point here is that getting a third-party audit of your site helps you know if the person you’re dealing with is doing what they say they’re doing.
Using The Results To Improve Your Site
Once you’ve gotten your website audit, you will have a list of issues that need to be addressed. Some items may be more important than others, so prioritize accordingly, and don’t be afraid to ask the person that did the audit for their suggested priorities. As mentioned earlier, fix what’s broken first and leave cosmetic or user-interface changes for later.
Once you’re comfortable that everything is working correctly, publish new pages to replace old ones and update existing content if needed. Make sure all of these are done with 301 redirects so you don’t lose any SEO juice or rankings for relevant search terms.
Remember to keep a close eye on Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools while you address individual issues. This will allow you to track how well your changes are impacting your site’s traffic, keyword rankings, click-through rates, etc. You also want to check in on incoming links so you can see if the new content is drawing any links or shares from other websites.
If you’d like a website audit, contact us for a consultation. We’re happy to help. We’ll give you an objective opinion. There’s never any obligation to use us to fix any problems we might find.
Make It Loud is a digital marketing firm that’s located in the Atlanta area. We’ve been helping businesses establish and improve their online presence for more than 15 years. We don’t consider ourselves successful until you are. It’s as simple as that.