Audit Your Site
Posted by Charlie Recksieck
Checklist To Evaluate The Health Of Your Website
Obviously, if your company is fairly sizable then a lot of thought has gone into your web site. Even so, there are always things that could improve a web site.
There are plenty of organizations that can do an audit of your web site; here at Plannedscape we would be happy to give an opinion. Apart from that, this article outlines some quick ways you can check to see if your website is in good shape; we modeled these checklists below partially off of our new site audit template that we use here.
We are gonna keep these pretty much to bullet points, so this doesn't balloon past 1500 words and becomes a 25-minute read. If you want us to elaborate on any part of it, please go ahead and reach out to us and we can describe further.
What are you trying to achieve on your site? Direct sales via buttons on your site? Sales leads? Mailing list signups? Traffic? Provide value-added services for your customers? No matter which of these goals you have, they are all measurable. So how are you doing in reaching those milestones?
Who is your target audience? Do all of the pages seem to be speaking to your imagined demographic?
Should your site basically be a clean, sharp-looking one-page site? Or do you have a need to have multiple pages?
Are all pages pretty consistent in their design?
Eye-Test: Does it look professional (instead of outdated or clunky)?
Branding - Do you have a strong logo, style, font on your site? Is it appropriate with your business?
Color Scheme - Quick note, I've always remembered something a graphic artist once told me; basically, other than white-grey-black, people respond better to art with just two dominant colors instead of three or more which will clash with each other.
Speed - If it takes more than 1.5 seconds to load, you really might lose people immediately.
Responsiveness - How does it look on phones and tablets? Just run your own eye test with some major devices: iPhone, Android, iPad and Surface tablet for starters. If you don't have all of these, borrow your friends' or have them look and report back to you,
Marketing Your Goals
Your ask? Look at your site and make sure that the top of your homepage and pretty much every page drives people to do this.
Pushing all of your asks? For instance, if you also are trying to get more Instagram followers, then the site should be pushing visitors that direction.
Able To Maintain
Independent? Are you too dependent on web designer for everything? We have replaced a lot of previous designers and unfortunately about 30-40% of the time, they still have valid credentials to important company logins.
Do you know your passwords? Seems like a silly question, right? I've seen even 50-person companies have a hard time tracking down current passwords for us.
What happens if your developer wins the lottery and moves to Bali, never to be heard from again? It's a fair question. Who else knows what's going on with your site? Who else has access? Do you have documentation?
Can you make your own changes? You don't want to pay developers and web designers anywhere from $30 to $150 an hour just to revise your copy or fix typos. If you can't control your own content to a decent extent, then make this a priority.
Staleness - Old news? Your latest "update" or "news" being from over 3 months ago makes your site look abandoned. You WILL lose would-be traffic and potential customers this way. If this is the case, can you remove the dates from being shown?
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Main Meta Tags - Good guide here from the people at Moz; https://moz.com/blog/the-ultimate-guide-to-seo-meta-tags
Robots.txt - Make sure to prevent Google (and other search engines) from indexing unwanted, private parts of your website. Here's some instructions from none other than Google: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/6062596?hl=en
Google your domain to see what they've indexed! - Search "site:yoursitename.com" in Google and see what comes up! (And make sure you aren't easy prey for "Google dorking")
Current Content - As mentioned above, news staleness is a killer. But frequently updated content really does help your search engine rankings.
SSL certificate - Do you have one? Look into it. Browsers are doing more and more to protect from unverified content and even from some innocuous content. If they get a SSL warning from your site, you're losing more visitors and potential customers.
Backups - Let's say your uploaded files get hacked and all files get taken down from your web server. Sure, your host is probably backing these up too, but what if they aren't? (Or if you host your own server.) How bad will "disaster recovery" be? From our experience, particularly from Brad here at Plannedscape, even large companies get caught with their pants down. Have a plan right now for disaster recovery ... BEFORE the disaster.
Development Sandbox - If you are tinkering with your site, where do you try out changes without going live? You need to always have some sort of "staging" environment for testing and evaluation. You really should have 3 dedicated environments: development, staging and production.
Basic stats - Your web host offers these. Do you look at them? Do you know what traffic you have?
Google Analytics - Unless you seriously don't trust Google, we strongly recommend you have Google Analytics tracking traffic to your site. Google is too important to ignore. For "free" (and also the price of them having this data about your site) the tools are incredible. Here's a good primer: https://www.freecodecamp.org/news/making-sense-of-google-analytics-and-the-traffic-to-your-website/
Free Audit Tools
All of these are places you can enter your domain/URL and their free services will tell you a lot about what you need to do.
Google has a good tool, PageSpeed Insights: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/
Woorank.com - Plenty of error-catching and suggested improvements there: https://www.woorank.com/
Google responsiveness test (for mobile and tablets). Evaluation sample: Overviews like "Page is not mobile friendly; This page can be difficult to use on a mobile device" and detailed steps you should take. https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly
We hope this list isn't overwhelming. It's a public-friendly version of what we do to "audit" a potential new client here at Plannedscape.
If this is just your own personal or small business web site, look this over yourself and set aside 1-2 hours for you to do your own audit.
If you are a decision-maker at a larger company, check with your IT department or web designer(s) that your business would pass such an audit.
Should you want some help, please contact us here at Plannedscape ... But otherwise we hope something in here struck a nerve about something you can be doing better on your site to build your business.