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5 Steps to Perform a Website Audit & Present Your Findings [Toolkit]
August 25, 2021 •Stephanie Fisher
Our Website Self-Audit Kit continues to be the most popular resource on our website. We've updated this related blog post (originally published in 2015) with current tips and best practices.
If you have an existing website, the quickest way to see the biggest improvements in performance is to perform a website audit and make the necessary changes to maximize results.
Since website projects can take time and money, the best way to convince your leadership to prioritize the project and put in extra dollars is to do a thorough audit and analysis.
If you complete our self-audit kit, you'll have a list of what your site does well and things you need to work on, so you can prioritize your website improvements and convince your boss. Let's get started!
Why You Should Audit Your Website
Why You Should Perform an Audit
It can be difficult to convince your CEO that you need more money in your budget, let alone finance a redesign of your website. After all, they’ll probably just tell you to go “sprinkle some SEO” on it.
But you know it will take much more than that to fix your website and improve digital marketing metrics.
It probably sounds like a lot of work, but it’s totally doable. You need a few specific tools and a process to evaluate your website before you're ready to present those findings in a compelling way to your boss.
Step 1: Set Your Criteria
There are several components that go into an effective and revenue-driving website.
Website Audit Checklist
- Marketing/Sales Goals
- Effectiveness (data/analytics)
- CMS / Ease of management
- Structural quality (SEO)
Let's dive into how to evaluate your website for each criteria.
- What are your marketing strategies and goals?
- Are you achieving your goals?
- How do you measure success?
- Do you know how many website leads you need to generate to set up the sales team for success?
- Are you currently generating leads from your website?
- Is your website exhibiting an overall positive growth pattern?
- Do web visitors do what you want them to do (i.e. If you have an e-commerce website, are people buying your products)?
- Do you have a clearly defined target audience?
- Do you analyze your metrics and look at progress reports?
- Do you know what the purpose of each page is?
- Do you have calls-to-action (CTAs) on each page?
- Do you have landing pages with downloadable offers?
- Do you utilize strategic email marketing?
- Do you have lists of prospects from your offers?
- Are your current marketing tactics generating traffic?
- Do you know what people are engaging with the most?
- Do your pages have a consistent format for navigation, headers, text, typography, and hyperlinks?
- Is your critical content easy to find?
- Does your design help make the content more digestible?
- Do you include CTAs that give visitors a clear path to guide them along the way?
- Does the design align with your company brand?
- Is there continuity between text and images on your pages?
- Does the imagery tell the story you’d like it to tell visually?
CMS / Ease of management
- How easy is it to use your Content Management System (CMS)?
- Rate the ease of the following:
- Editing web content
- Embedding videos
- Uploading images
- Adding events
- Posting new blogs
- Posting a press release
- Updating team changes
- Is your site responsive?
- Do you have a mobile website?
- How easy is it to do the top 3 things people come to your website for?
- Is your website easy to navigate?
- How long does it take for your site to load?
Structural quality (SEO)
- Do you have the following:
- Title tags?
- Description tags?
- Alt tags on images?
- Interior page title tags?
- Do you use keywords (without stuffing)?
- Do you have hyphens on your image file names?
- Do you utilize outbound and inbound links?
- Does the homepage clearly describe what you do and/or provide?
- Do your landing pages have a few paragraphs of engaging, unique text?
- Do you use creative headlines for blog posts?
- Are you providing fresh content on a consistent basis that your users will want to read?
- Is the text on your pages written for search engines or humans?
- Are your blogs salesy or educational?
- Did you pull copy from a print brochure or promotional material to put on your site?
- Do you have duplicate content on several pages?
- Are there spelling or grammar mistakes on your pages?
- Do you use bulleted or numbered lists to communicate key lists?
- Does your site have an SSL (secure socket layer) Certificate?
- Is your CMS running on the latest version?
- What is your technical support/maintenance setup?
Give yourself a grade on each of these questions, A to F. It’s more accurate if you have access to your data, so you can see exactly how your website is performing, its strengths, and weaknesses. But if you don't have access to your data, do it anyway because you can still make educated guesses.
There are many tools that will help you audit your website with a set of established criteria. Tools we recommend include:
- Website Grader (which gives you instant top-level results)
- Our more detailed Website Self-Audit Kit (with a free technical audit)
- Google Analytics
- SEMrush (for SEO and technical errors)
Step 2: Align Criteria to Business Goals
To justify the effort it takes for website optimization, you need to connect website improvements with business goals like lead generation and revenue.
For example, if your website audit reveals gaps in usability, you can make a business case for projects on user experience. You can back this up with metrics from audit tools.
You might say something like, “We see on Google Analytics that 35% of our website visitors are on mobile devices. But our website doesn’t display well on smartphones. Because we see a high bounce rate from mobile devices, we need to have mobile responsive pages.”
Form a clear and measurable hypothesis about how website changes will impact your chosen business goal. In this example, we might hypothesize, “By implementing mobile responsive pages, we’ll increase average time on page by 1 minute and improve conversion by 10%”.
Look at your answers from your criteria, and identify which areas you think will have the most impact and return on investment. You can assign priority levels as High, Medium, or Low depending on how urgent the changes are.
A spreadsheet is useful for auditing your website in-depth. You can take notes about priority pages and sections, assign a grade for each page and section and take notes (like, if you find broken links and spelling errors).
Step 3: Review Budget Guidelines
If you are on the path toward a major redesign, there are a few things to consider about cost.
Your website is the digital face of your company. Your website is that first impression that will invite a prospect to stay and trust you or turn away. That said, a quality, custom website is an investment in your organization.
Your investment will look something like this:
Option 1: Traditional Website Project
For a marketing-focused website that is designed to primarily generate leads (including a blog) with responsive design, it will cost you $25,000-$35,000. If you want e-commerce capabilities, those websites start at $40,000. For lots of content, features, employee profile pages, new content written for you, and e-commerce, a new site will cost over $60,000.
For $60,000-$100,000+ you will get custom, aggressive digital marketing implementation (SEO, social media, lead generation). Keep in mind that more content, individual pages, and specialized functionality will push your budget into a higher range.
Option 2: Long-term Website Engagement
Many agencies are moving toward long-term website engagements for clients who want to stay current, adapt to the market, and take a data-driven approach to their website.
Some of the advantages of this approach include a set monthly budget instead of one large payment, ongoing support, quicker launch time, and agile methodology. Your budget is based on how aggressively you want to work toward your marketing goals.
Step 4: Prepare a Convincing Presentation
Create a professional-grade slide deck with the results of your audit. Understand that you are entering a sales negotiation and selling a business result of a new website.
You will need to come to the table with a clear understanding of what you want to accomplish, and hard facts and reports to show that your website isn’t delivering as it should.
In your presentation, include:
- Your website audit findings
- Your current website performance
- Your proposed changes
- Examples and visualizations
- Your expected results
- Plans and options for budget and execution
Bringing example websites can help leadership visualize changes and improve buy-in. In addition, case studies legitimize how these changes have driven results.
Step 5: Present Your Findings
Now it's time to make your case to the boss or board. It's important to present with confidence and believe in your findings.
Use statistics and data to make the case for good design, proven processes, and potential ROI.
You know your leadership. You are far more likely to succeed if you are able to come with an estimated time frame, budget amount, and expected results. The more information you have going into this conversation, the more likely you are to succeed.
While your project may face rejection, keep up the good fight. Keep referencing the data if you have clear evidence your website is underperforming. It may take some time, but it’ll start to click with your team.
Start Improving Your Website
With regular website audits, you’ll be able to identify opportunities to increase site traffic, boost lead generation, and improve your business's online presence and user experience.
If you take a methodical approach, you'll be armed with hard data and prepared to make convincing arguments in favor of website improvements.
Ready to increase site traffic and leads? We’ve helped many businesses like you grow their business with clear and effective website design and development.
Download our website audit kit today, to start tweaking your website and making more money.
Steph leads our client delivery team and is obsessed with delivering quality work, creating an efficiency machine, and mastering the tools and disciplines to achieve success for our heroes. At home, she loves listening to true crime podcasts, playing with her daughters and two pugs, and singing in a local rock band with her husband.
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