What Is Website Audit, Why It Is Important and How to Do It

5 min. read

Does your website have issues that are hurting your visibility or turning away visitors? Performing a simple website audit can help you find out. 

Many businesses, big and small, often are faced with technical, user experience, and SEO issues with their site. These issues can be detrimental for your business, leading to a drop in traffic and visibility in the search results. 

If you're an owner of a website and haven't audited your site in a while, chances are you should. Think of your site as a complex machine that needs regular website maintenance and website update to work at its best. 

We've put together this insightful guide to help you determine whether your site is optimized and if not, how you can improve it to increase performance.

What does it mean to audit a website?

A website audit is an examination of your site's overall performance before moving on with search engine optimization (SEO) or website redesign

A detailed website evaluation will help you understand:

  • why your site is not generating enough traffic

  • why your sales and conversation rates are not improving

  • what's confusing your visitors

  • what technical issues exist 

Of course, locating such issues is only one part of the battle. The second part includes fixing them.

If you lack technical experience, you may want to consider getting professional help from your IT department or an outsourced party.

What does a website audit do?

Check your website performance

Website performance is crucial for a successful website. Websites that take forever to load frustrate visitors so they go and look for faster alternatives. Even a one-second drop in page load times can cost your business thousands of dollars and a decline in rankings. 

According to one research, 79% of web users visit online retailers that deliver high-performance and user-friendly experience. What's more, 40% will leave a site that doesn't load in 3 seconds. And 44% of online shoppers will tell their friends about a bad shopping experience. 

A website audit will help you:

  • Inspect your site's technical framework and infrastructure.

  • Assess your search engine optimization.

  • Analyze how easy it is for users to navigate the site.

Improve your search engine optimization

Good SEO practices can lead to improved user experience and usability of your site. By conducting a website audit, you can identify any outstanding issues with SEO or missed SEO opportunities that can improve your site. Some of the most common issues include:

  • Wrong keywords

  • Keyword stuffing

  • Creating the wrong type of content

  • Missing meta descriptions and title tags

  • Missing quality backlinks

  • Publishing plagiarized content

Instead of wondering why your site is not ranking well, a website audit can tell you where you should focus your SEO efforts.

Boost your conversion rate

Wouldn’t you like to see more visitors interacting with your site? Or more subscriptions to your newsletter? 

All businesses have this in common. They all want visitors to do something on their site. Whether it's submitting a lead form or getting in touch, interacting with the site is crucial. 

Visitors are more likely to interact with your site if it's well-optimized, easy to navigate, and high-performing. A site audit will help you make the needed improvements and as a result, your conversion rate will likely increase.

What should be included in a website audit?

A thorough site audit will inform you of what's working properly on your site, what needs improvement, and how you can upgrade your site and rank better. Here's everything your website audit checklist should include:    

Site health audit

A site health audit analyzes the architecture and usability of a website. It can help you identify gaps in:

  • Page speed

  • Internal linking

  • External linking

  • Meta descriptions

  • Broken links

  • Load times

  • Page titles

  • Site structure

The most commonly used tool is Google Analytics. It's a great tool for a comprehensive audit of your site.

Site security audit

Website owners often pay more attention to website design and SEO but underestimate the security area. Website security should be equally as important as anything else.

You've probably read about the cybersecurity breaches of large companies like Google and Facebook. Attacks like these can be costly for any company, but it's nearly a small setback for these tech giants. But do you know how harmful a security breach can be to your small business?

According to the National Cyber Security Alliance, 60% of small businesses are forced to shut down their business in less than six months after a cyber-attack.

By performing a site security audit, you'll identify any vulnerabilities to security breaches. Ultimately, you'll prevent a leak of your business and visitors' sensitive information. 

Conversion rate optimization audit

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) can help you understand how users move through your site, what actions they take, and what's preventing them from converting. Whether it's requesting a quote or creating an account, you have to know:

  • where to optimize

  • what to optimize

  • who to optimize for

And a CRO audit can answer those questions for you. 

Penalty and recovery audit

A penalty and recovery audit can help you uncover manual or algorithmic issues. These issues have a direct negative effect on search ranking. It'll also give you suggestions on how to recover your site.

Competitor site audit

Knowing your competitors is crucial. You'll be able to understand what their competitive advantages are, improve your processes, and navigate challenges in your market. By auditing your competitor's site, you'll discover insights and opportunities that you can implement into your own digital marketing strategy.

Content and SEO audit

This type of content can reveal how well your site's content is performing. It can detect any issues with broken links, alt tags, meta descriptions, or duplicate content. All of these issues can confuse search engines and hurt your rankings. For that reason, it's imperative that you conduct a content and SEO audit in order to create a unique and engaging content that will attract your visitors.

Social media presence audit

Wouldn’t you like to see more visitors interacting with your site? Or more subscriptions to your newsletter? 

All businesses have this in common. They all want visitors to do something on their site. Whether it's submitting a lead form or getting in touch, interacting with the site is crucial. 

Visitors are more likely to interact with your site if it's well-optimized, easy to navigate, and high-performing. A site audit will help you make the needed improvements and as a result, your conversion rate will likely increase.

How much does a website audit cost?

Not sure how much you should pay for a website audit? Many businesses are faced with the same question. 

The cost of a site audit depends on several factors, including:

What's the size of your website?

Smaller websites have fewer pages to be analyzed. Compared to larger websites, they can be audited in a few days. On the other hand, large-scale websites can have hundreds of pages and take longer to be assessed in detail. An audit for a website with 150 pages will cost more than an audit for a website with less than 50 pages.

What type of audit are you looking for?

The price of the audit will depend on whether you want to invest in a detailed, 360-degree audit that analyzes your:

  • Site health

  • Site security

  • Conversion rate

  • Competitors

  • Content

  • Social media presence

Or, will you only need one or two of these different audits? For the best results, it's recommended that you invest in a comprehensive audit that includes all of the aspects mentioned above.

What's the pricing of your agency?

A more experienced agency that employees a team of professionals will cost more. Although pricey, working with such agency comes with a number of benefits:

  • They are aware of the industry standards and how to meet them.

  • Your site will be in safe hands.

  • They understand SEO best practices.

So, if you want to ensure your site is high-performing, don't hesitate to invest in an experienced agency. 

What's the turnaround time?

You can have your site audited expeditely, but it'll cost you. The faster you want the website, the more you'll pay. If you want a fast turnaround time, consider partnering with a larger agency that has more people at hand. They can audit your site in time and implement the necessary changes. 

If you have time to wait for your audit report, then you don't have to worry about rush services. 

Also, keep in mind that some agencies might decline to work with you. You should inform them of your requirements beforehand so that they can tell you whether they can meet them.

How to Audit Your Website

A website audit can provide you with a functional plan that will help you:

  • Identify your site's weaknesses and how to do the proper changes.

  • Analyze your competitors and use the findings to your benefit.

  • Check the SEO efficiency of your site.

  • Develop a plan for your website's future. 

There are plenty of tools you can use. Screaming Frog and Sitebulb are two great tools that can help you audit your site effectively. Ahrefs also has its own version, and SEMRush has its auditor. Alternatively, you can check out the Neil Patel SEO Analyzer

Let’s begin auditing!

Upgrade your technical SEO 

Checking your technical SEO is easy if you use the right tools. One of those free website audit tools is Screaming Frog Spider. Although it has a paid version, the free version allows you to run many useful checks.

Here's everything you can do with the SEO audit tool:

Rewrite page titles. Good page titles are essential for your SEO. They are a short and simple way for website creators to tell Google and users what’s on the page that follows. You should:

  • Write unique page titles for every page.

  • Aim for 50 characters or less.

  • Use your target keyword.

  • Describe what's on the page.

Check and change page titles by scanning them in Screaming Frog in the page title tab. 

Write good meta descriptions. Meta descriptions are equally important for SEO. They're longer than page titles and describe with more words what users and search engines can find on that page. A meta description should be creative so that it entices users to click on your site. Make sure your meta descriptions are unique and not duplicate content. You can see and edit your meta descriptions in Screaming Frog SEO Spider under the “Meta Description” tab.

Check for canonical URLs. Canonical tags tell search engines like Google to index and rank the right pages. Let's say that you have the same or similar content on your site available under different URLs.To signal to search engines like Google which version is the main one and should be indexed, you use a canonical tag.

You can check your canonical tags in the “Canonical Link Element 1” tab. 

Perform a site crawl to discover issues

Using the Screaming Frog SEO Spider tool, perform a site crawl to check for any issues. Another tool you can use is Netpeak Spider

A site crawl can help you identify what parts of your site are not accessible by bots. For example, there might be an issue with noindex commands, disallows, or coding problems that's keeping bots out. 

Moreover, you can see whether you have duplicate content on the site. Duplicate content can appear in title tags and meta descriptions. 

You can also filter for 404 errors and track them down. A 404 error code is one of the most annoying things your visitors can come across. Apart from a negative user experience, high bounce rates due to broken links can negatively affect your SEO. 

500 errors are another type of errors that can damage your SEO rankings. They're due to internal issues, usually a web server. Most popular 500 errors are: 500 error, 502 bad gateway503 service unavailable504 gateway timeout ect. 

Inspect if redirects are properly implemented. Redirect 301 allows an old url to point to an existing page. When you change the domain name of the page, the old domain no longer exists, redirect 301 allows for this old domain to point to the existing page so that you can maintain your seo rankings. Also, if people have the old link, then they can be redirected to the existing page that you made changes on. 

Check out our ultimate guide to http status codes to get a better understanding off all the errors your website can encounter.

Improve user experience (UX)

If your UX is bad, your SEO and rankings will be too. But there's no need to worry as there are numerous ways of how to improve user experience. 

Take a moment to look at your website. Do you notice any obvious parts that can be improved so that users can navigate the site with more ease? 

Here are a few suggestions:

Check your navigation bar. When users land on your site, they want to find what they're looking for in an instant. If they struggle to navigate, chances are they'll leave the page without coming back. That's why you should ensure your navigation menu makes sense to your visitors. The menu should be clear, link to your most important pages, and not cluttered with unnecessary stuff. 

One good idea is to outline your website's menu, so it's easier to see what needs improvement and what should be deleted. Consider using a website audit tool like Slickplan

Select good colors. You want your site's colors to match your brand. If they're randomly selected, consider making changes. The colors on your site should follow a certain color scheme so they don't steal your visitors' attention from the content. 

Add images and videos. Images and videos can bring life to your website. They can help you sell a product or a service, and engage your visitors. They'll stay on your site longer instead of increasing your bounce rate. Add images and videos where it's necessary and make sure there's a fine balance between images and text. 

Use white space. White space is crucial to good user experience design. White space makes your content more readable and allows the user to focus on the elements surrounding the text.

Add call-to-action. CTAs instruct your visitors on what to do next and to take action. Make sure you include a CTA on every page of your site and keep them above the fold. If you have them below the fold, there's a high chance your visitors won't notice them at all. 

Add client testimonials.
Testimonials are a great and easy way to refine the user experience on your site. They can reassure your visitors how great your service or products are.

Check that your site loads fast

Did you know that:

  • More than 50% of your web users expect your site to load in three seconds or less?

  • Even a 1-second delay can result in an 11% decrease in traffic?

  • 46% of users don't revisit a low-performing website?

Google also knows how fast your site loads. Meaning, if your site loads in three seconds and your competitor's loads in six, Google will want to serve your content first. 

For the reasons above, you want to make sure your website loads fast. There are a few tools you can use:

  • Google PageSpeed Insights: use this tool to analyze the speed of your web page and see suggestions to make that page faster.

  • GTmetrix: use this testing tool to test your page in different countries, browsers, connection speeds, and more.

  • Pingdom: use this free website audit tool to identify what about a webpage is fast, slow, too big, and so on.

Check that your site is mobile-friendly

In 2015, Google announced its mobile-friendly algorithm that boosts mobile search rankings for websites that are mobile-friendly. In other words, having a mobile-friendly website will give you a competitive advantage. If your competition has a beautifully optimized mobile website and you don't, they’re most likely ahead of the game.

If you're unsure whether your site is mobile-friendly, there are many website audit tools you can use. 

Google has its own Mobile-Friendly Test. You simply need to paste the URL of your website into the blank space, as shown below, then click “Analyze.” 

Check that you're using HTTPS

You've probably noticed that some URLs start with "HTTP," and others with "HTTPS". Well, the "s" stands for "secure encryption,'' which is guaranteed with a certificate.

In 2014, Google announced that having a certificate installed on your website will increase your ranking position. For this reason, you may want to consider getting one.

If your site doesn't have a lock on the URL bar and the URL begins with https://, then you don't have an SSL certificate. 

If your website collects customers' sensitive information such as credit card information and home address, purchasing an SSL license is crucial. 

Improve your on-page SEO

On-page SEO website audit consists of all those factors on your own site that influence your search placement.

Here are some steps you should take:

  • Are your URLs SEO-friendly?

  • Do your title tags begin with a keyword?

  • Does every page on your site have a meta description?

  • Is your content optimized and unique?

  • Does your site use an XML sitemap to improve your pages’ indexing and crawlability?

  • Are your images optimized for keywords, and do they have an alt text?

  • Are your content pages making appropriate use of header tags such as H1 and H2?

  • Are you using internal links?

  • Do you link out to authority sites?

  • Do you include LSI keywords in every post? 

  • Do you have social sharing buttons placed prominently on your site?

You can check your title tags, meta descriptions, and alt text using a website audit tool like Screaming Frog. If you're using WordPress, be sure to install Yoast SEO. This plugin can help you see just how optimized your work is for your target keywords.

Analyze your competitors

Using the Screaming Frog tool, you can analyze your competitor's website. Make sure you check out their title tags, meta descriptions, canonical tags. Using a paid audit tool like SemRush or Ahrefs, you can also pull your competitor’s backlinks and monitor changes in their ranking. You can check out the keywords they're competing for and use that info to improve on your content strategy.

Key Takeaways

If you believe that your site is not generating the traffic or search rankings that your competitors have, the best thing you can do is run a website audit.

An audit will check your site for site errors and help you discover what can be improved on your pages to boost your search engine visibility. 

To sum up:

  • A website audit can check your website performance, improve your search engine optimization, and boost your conversion rate.

  • An effective site audit checklist should include Site health audit, Site security audit, Conversion rate audit, Competitors audit, Content audit, and Social media presence audit. 

  • The cost of a website audit depends on the size of your website, the type of audit you need, and the agency you'll be working with. 

  • The best way to run a site audit is through checking your technical SEO, performing a site crawl, improving user experience, checking your site speed and mobile-friendliness, and improving your on-page SEO.


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