Google is working hard to incorporate as many website signals in its algorithm as it can, so it can mimic human reviewers. Besides content, it now values speed, usability and even aesthetics of your website. It’s hard to keep track of the constantly shifting SEO landscape and that’s why you shouldn’t.
You don’t need to chase algorithms, the algorithms are already chasing you.
When optimizing your website, you should always think about how to it will benefit your users, not search engines. After all, Google is trying just that, to view and rate your site like people would.
An audit is a thorough examination and documentation of the current state of your website. It should tell you what is good and what’s not so good about your online presence, but also give actionable items on how to improve and fix things.
Things change rapidly online and you need to change accordingly if you want to stay in the game.
It’s important to assess your website in terms of performance, security, conversion rates and SEO, because the landscape changes almost every month. New web standards are constantly being introduced, I read about new threats and WordPress vulnerabilities every week, people react differently to fonts and website elements, so your calls-to-action buttons may not be as effective, search engines are starting to value content more than they value backlinks, so you may need to rethink how you spend money on marketing.
Website audits should once a year and at least cover these segments:
- Technical SEO (health, performance, security)
- Onsite, Usability, Content, Conversions
Even if you feel that everything is going smoothly with your conversions, sales or subscriptions, these can and should be parts of the same audit you perform regularly on your website, because you can always improve on things.
This part of the audits deals with the foundation of your website which is hosting, templates, accessibility, redirects, caching and server setup, so Google can crawl and index your content the way you want.
In order to have a high quality website, you need to build it on top of solid foundation. Always use well coded WordPress themes, get rid of unnecessary plugins and optimize images. This will make sure your content is served in a timely fashion.
You should know that search engines are not the only ones that value speed. If you want to turn by-passers into subscribers and users, then you need to provide them with fast loading content.
But, before making any changes to your website, you need to gather some evidence. Use existing analytics data, before acting. This saves time and money when implementing the changes.
Try to gather as much information and recommendations using Google Webmaster Tools as you can. Once you compile a list of things, it will be much easier to assign priority levels and do things in the right order.
Note that you sometimes cannot influence the backlinks your website gets, so it’s wise to monitor this and keep an eye using Google Webmaster Tools in “Links to Your Website” section.
If you’re unsure how to approach this problem, a good starting point is Google PageSpeed Insights. It’ll even give you pointers on how to make your website usable on mobile devices.
Security can be a highly technical thing to implement. It incorporates editing .htaccess files to limit access and contain the damage, should your website becomes compromised, securing wp-admin, wp-includes, wp-config.php, etc.
But it needn’t be. There are several basic things you need to take care of. Updating WordPress, themes and plugins, asking your hosting company to configure your server for maximum protection (locking down file permissions), using better passwords, but also doing regular backups.
I also suggest you install and activate Wordfence, free security WordPress plugin, which will automatically take care of majority of things mentioned here.
Onsite SEO, usability, content & conversions
These 4 things are very much connected. First, establish a great onsite SEO with unique keyword-rich and branded title tags, alt tags, right information architecture, getting rid of duplicate content, writing unique and relevant meta descriptions, permalinks, header tags and LSI (latent semantic indexing) keywords.
After you do this, focus your effort on writing more content for all your main pages. I often see online shops without introductory content on category pages, which rank more often then specific product pages, so make sure you get that right.
Usability of your contact, subscription forms and checkout process directly influence conversion rates. So make sure your call to action buttons are in company of some good quality content, with posts over 600 words and pages of at least 300.
Every audit should have summary of things checked, warnings on issues and recommendations on how to fix them.
Website audits make sure your website is working optimally, that you get maximum return on investment and that your business grows. Consider them an annual physical examination, because it’s what your online business needs.
If you need help auditing your website, don’t hesitate to ask in the comment section below.