How to Audit your own Website
Is the website mobile friendly? (resize the window from small to large and see if the site reflows itself). You’ll want to check that things organize neatly, images are cropped nicely, and nothing extends past the edges of the screen.
Is the website still usable in its mobile format? Check navigation, important calls-to-actions, etc. You want all of your key calls to actions present and useable.
Is the website quick to load? On mobile, data usage is key. A larger website will load much slower, and may annoy your guests by chewing through their data.
Important for general usability as more and more people use mobile devices for browsing.
This is a big deal for SEO
Use the broken link checker brokenlinkcheck.com. It will report back to you any broken links it may find.
Broken links are just bad – every website owner should do their best to reduce the amount of broken links present on their website.
Does the Website have a CMS (content management system)?
Use the CMS Checker: https://whatcms.org/
If the pages end in .html or .php it’s likely it is not on a CMS
CMS’s allow us and the client to post edits to their website – and manage things like SEO, Analytics, Security and stuff like that. It saves them a lot of money in the long run, and is typically the first step in creating their online marketing presence.
We should suggest that they update to a CMS like WordPress for a typical website, and shopify for the eCommerce websites.
Out of Date Content Management System:
Use the CMS Checker: https://whatcms.org/
Sometimes you can view the source of the page to suss out the version also.
If they are on WP, but are on an older version (less than version 4.5), we need to get in there and update it. If they are on an older version of Drupal 7 or less, they should update their CMS to WP. Out of date CMSs are the #1 reason why websites are hacked.
Out of Date Plugins
How: Typically we can only know this if the client already has a WordPress website, log in and check the Plugins or Modules.
Why: Plugins are a big security issue, and out of date ones are often targets for hackers. This is for WordPress only websites.
All three of the above tools report back on page speed. The Google one is probably the best to use, but the pingdom and gtmetrix are more detailed. Note, while these tools do bring up some options some of their suggestions may not always be possible.
Page speed is critical for usability. Slow websites often cause people to get frustrated and leave. Page speed also is a factor in SEO.
Check if the website has Analytics and Search Console (Webmaster Tools)
Use SEO Profiler’s Audit -> Technologies tab. We should see Google analytics and Site Verification on all pages. Note if it is missing, or does not appear on all pages – that is something to bring up also.
Why: This is pretty critical for any business interested in their online presence. We would like to have ALL of our clients with GA and Webmaster Tools installed.
See if the website has links to their social media. Their contact info, hours, address, etc are all easy to find – ideally on the homepage, and on every page. For restaurants/hotels. Check for trip advisor widgets.
Are they active on their social media?
Why: Social media has great ‘signals’ of value for SEO, and it’s a great way to reach your audience.
Check for testimonials – both on site and in social media. Suggest the client collect testimonials for use on their website. Some business are better suited to using social proof than others.
Testimonials can often make the difference between a sale or not; especially for someone not so sure about the service.
If a website looks old, it probably is. It’s handy to check the footer of the website, most have the date of the most recent change.
Web tech changes quickly, so a website that is 3 or more years old is getting pretty out of date. Not only for new devices and ways-of-doing-things, but for SEO, and first impressions.
Test your Forms
Look for documents on the site that can be turned into on-page forms. Some websites have users download a PDF form. Consider using a digital form instead.
Test-submit each of your forms. I can’t count how many times a form stopped working for one reason or another, and the owner never even knew!
You may want to track submissions, and attribute those submissions as marketing goals (ie: Filling out a contact form, submitting a request for proposal, etc)
A blog should be in their navigation. Could be set as ‘news’ too. If a client does not have a blog, suggest one. If they are not using their blog, suggest some ideas. We can offer some writing options to them?
It is pretty important for SEO, and also, to keep the business owner circling back to their own thoughts and processes.
Focal Call to Action or Value Proposition
Take a first glance ad their home page, and other key pages. Each website, even each page, should have a reason to exist – a way to drive a visitor into engaging with the company. That could be making a purchase, submitting a form, viewing the menu, etc. But if that purpose is unclear, suggest optimizing it.
A website without a clear focus will not do what the client wants it to do. Further, it’s good practice to really trim out what the site should be accomplishing.
Spelling and Grammar
Bad grammar, typos, out of date content, or poorly written/organized content can reflect poorly on your business.
How: Read through for anything that reflects badly on a site from a content-centered point of view.
Why: Any of the above can make a site look out of date and/or unprofessional which can be very negative.
How: Review the photography on the site. Great photos have a huge impact. If a site has poor photos that’s a good thing to suggest. We would contract out for this.
Why: Photos, next to design, make the biggest difference between a ‘meh’ website and a ‘wow’ one!
This is a huge thing. I would run each through seositecheckup and offer their score. We can do a lot of the suggestions here to fix them up.
If it’s a business are they in google my business? Are they ranking in the top 3 google my business placements?
If the client has a WP site, suggest installing an SEO plugin like Yoast SEO and help optimize pages.
Why: SEO is the process in which we improve a website to perform better in searches. What most people fail to realize is that the optimization is also for the people using the website, so it’s really a whole top down look ad their site.
For WP Sites, is there a security plugin – we like Wordfence.
Why: Nobody likes to have their website hacked, and it can have huge ramifications on your website, business reputation, your data, and potentially your customer’s data. Following security practices can be tough as a client, which is why you should contact a qualified Web Developer to audit your source code, just to be safe.
Does the site have a Favicon?
This little icon thingy: