What Website Audits Should You Conduct and When Should You Do Them
Believe it or not, there was a time when websites were a "set it and forget it" asset.
There was no need to optimize your pages because there was no major search engine with a comprehensive algorithm. And even if there was, there were so few sites online that just having digital real estate was enough.
Today is different.
You see, your site begins depreciating the moment you launch, just like driving a new car off the lot. Even if you've spent $100,000 to get precisely what you want, it doesn't hold that value for long, and if you have no strategic process for auditing its performance, it's going to drop faster.
4 Website Audits to Keep Your Site Fresh
In modern times, a phrase like, "we had 200 visits on this page today," means nothing. It doesn't tell you how they got there, why they came, or even if they enjoyed what they saw. For all you know, it could have been a fluke.
This is one of the reasons why we conduct audits, to make sure everything is running correctly based on the information we have. An audit will shed light on why certain content is performing, or why no one is clicking a certain CTA. And without scheduling these checks into your strategies, you're not going to find the outstanding results you could.
The reason you want to conduct an audit on the user experience of your site is that the if the page is arranged to best support your goal, you're likely losing conversions. People may arrive at your site, anxious to explore your products and services, only to have difficulty navigating, slow load times, and CTAs that blend into the background.
Judging the performance of your user experience can be tricky unless you have the right tools. We recommend platforms like Google and HubSpot Analytics to track the baseline data. Those should provide enough insights on which pages people are entering and leaving from, as well as how many visits and conversions each is getting.
Next, using a tool like HotJar will open your eyes to how users are actually engaging with your pages. Along with heat maps, HotJar has an anonymous screen recording tool that provides some basic info on the user, and then shows exactly how they interacted on a page. This may give you some understanding as to why they skipped over a CTA or didn't click a link. HotJar is a great asset for looking at how your page structure leads or doesn't lead to conversions.
Some other things to specifically look at are the color choices of your page and what content is above the fold. Are you selecting contrasting colors that stand out from each other? Is the most important information apparent at first glance?
The basic screening of a UX audit, including CTA conversions, bounce rates, and heat maps, should be done monthly. It doesn't need to be as thorough as the full evaluation you should conduct quarterly, but it should capture the main points that affect your site. This is also a good time to ensure any A/B or multivariate testing is running correctly.
Landing Page Audits
As your "money makers," landing pages should receive monthly reviews, with deep dives every quarter. Prioritize your landing pages that aren't performing before moving to the rest, this way you're more efficiently spending your time.
There are basic things you should ensure every audit, even if the page hasn't seen a major update. These include the removal of any external navigation, and that all headlines and CTAs clearly stand out. While these won't change often, ensuring they're part of your checks means they'll always be good.
With your headline, you'll want to ensure it's the first thing the user sees when they get to your page, so there's no confusion as to where they are, like with Slack's above. It should also pass the "grunt test," meaning your headline should be so clear that they can almost foresee your offer. Remember, a confused mind always says, "No."
With regards to your forms, one reason you may have low engagement rates is that you're requesting too much information. If you have a lot of fields, like the image above, the task becomes daunting for the user. The goal should be to make things as convenient as possible for them, so they have no reason not to follow through. You're removing any hesitations they may have so it becomes one smooth process.
You'll also want to ensure your use of trust icons is relevant to offer. You want the social proof to reinforce your authenticity, but it needs to appeal to the user as well. This means if you're offering personalized coaching, you shouldn't include "over 10,000 assisted" because it makes the offer feel less personal. Test out different types of proof to see which works best for your audience.
Content audits give you a quantitative and qualitative assessment of your work. They give you a chance to see what types of content are performing and what's failing to produce traction. It can also let you see what's resonating with your audience best.
Some of the data you'll want to look at include CTA performance, social shares, and baseline analytics. With CTAs, you want to ensure they're the right options for your post. If one is under-performing trying something else that may be more relevant to your audience could help.
Social shares are a vanity metric for some, a strategy for others. If you're finding low numbers, your content may not be worthy of sharing, or your brand as a whole may not support an increase in your users' status, causing them to remain indifferent to your material. This problem could also be from your site's UX. If it's not convenient for them to share, they likely won't.
If your users' average time on an article is 15 seconds before they bounce, there's a good chance they're scanning your content and don't find anything they think is worth exploring deeper. One technique would be to rework your headlines to include a benefit to see if that changes the amount of time on the site.
For content audits, you should conduct weekly analytics tracking of your work. This can keep you abreast to the types of content that are resonating with your audience. You should also conduct a larger scale audit every quarter or at the start of each new campaign if that comes first.
Finally, an SEO audit is essential for ensuring your page can rank on the search engines.
Tracking applications like Yoast SEO or HubSpot's Optimization Tool make monitoring your SEO simple and sets you up to knock out an audit whenever you have a free chance. Realistically, though, you should only need to check your SEO data monthly with deeper dives every quarter. It's also not a bad idea to check in after Google updates its algorithm.
When looking through your content, are you finding enough contextual internal to promote other pages on your site? Are they actually aligned to the topic or just fillers? Google's algorithm has an effect on this. Similarly, you want to ensure the backlinks pointed at your site are healthy and not harming your rankings.
Other quick checks are your page load speed, URL formatting, and then whether your images and videos work. If any of these aren't optimized, it'll slow your progress up the SERPs. The previous tools mentioned will help ensure you're not missing any of the key points in your SEO.
Auditing Your Website To Earn Better Results
Adding audits to your calendar are a great way to ensure you're not missing them. It's easy to forget when you're only taking in-depth looks every quarter, so having a fail-safe means your site will constantly be optimized.
While it's important to stay on top of your digital efforts, if you adopt Growth Driven Design, you'll find it's second nature.
Chris is the CEO at Lean Labs. He enjoys strategizing and creating content that drives results. When not typing away, Chris is exploring nature with his two daughters, wife, and dogs.