Do you remember when you last checked your website’s technical health?
If you haven’t done this before, it’s been several months since your last checkup, or you’re soon going to tweak your website’s design, here you can find out everything you need to know about auditing your website and boosting its online presence and performance.
Why Audits Are Important for Websites
Running a technical audit of your website provides you with a report on what is wrong with your website from the viewpoint of search engines and human visitors. On top of that, such reports allow you to see how you can improve your website.
The bottom line is that by regularly auditing your website, you are able to keep your business in line with Google’s best practices, as well as boost the overall performance and search visibility of your website.
Let’s take a look at several specific reasons for you to audit your website.
Your Visitors Aren’t Able to Navigate the Site as You Intended
When you look at your website every day and know your way around it, it’s easy to miss issues that prevent new visitors from finding their way through your website. You may overlook problems with 404 pages, no index directives, orphan pages/lack of internal links, and dozens of other issues.
Your Website Isn’t Technically Optimized
This is a huge part of your SEO success, as it covers a whole range of issues including thin content, image alt text, missing metadata, security problems with HTTP, use of headers, broken links, mobile responsiveness, duplicates, and more.
Your Website Doesn’t Load up Quickly
We all know that the modern user doesn’t have the time to wait for your website to load. If it takes your pages longer than 3 seconds to load the first rendered content, you’ll probably see a drop in traffic, and if you run an online shop, you will have a lot of abandoned carts.
Besides affecting conversions and user behavior, the loading speed also impacts SEO. With the introduction of Core Web Vitals back in the summer of 2021, page experience became a huge ranking factor, looking at loading speed, responsiveness, and visual stability among other things.
The main thing to keep in mind is that auditing your website and resolving the issues the process uncovers is a great way of making sure both search engines and people fall in love with your website.
When Entrepreneurs Need to Run an Audit
Doing the SEO for your website is a lengthy process, with many moving parts, that don’t happen overnight. So, if you decide to audit your website every day, you’ll most likely be frustrated at not seeing big changes.
However, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t audit your site regularly. In fact, it’s worth doing at least once a month, if not every week. After all, with the right site audit tool, all you have to do to find out about your site’s SEO health is set up a schedule depending on your needs, and automated audit reports will be automatically sent to your inbox.
Some big and obvious reasons to audit your site include:
- Transitioning to a new domain or CMS
- Website redesign
- Site structure and redirect updates
But you never know when a profitable page will accidentally get closed off from indexing or turn out to be a 404. If something isn’t working as initially intended and your bottom line is taking a huge hit, you’ll definitely want to know about it.
To uncover problems like these, you must keep an eye on your site on a daily or at least weekly basis, regardless of the size of your business.
If you have people working on optimizing your website—be it an agency, freelancer, or your in-house team—you may want to check in on their progress once a month to make sure that everything is going according to plan. Comparing audit reports can be useful, as it highlights how each issue has improved or gotten worse.
Finally, besides auditing your own website, you can also take a look at your competition to get an idea of what to aim for. By analyzing several of your digital rivals, you’ll be able to adjust your strategy and set realistic goals.
Regardless of how often you decide to audit your website, it’s important to have a strategy in place, along with a checklist of what needs to be done. That way, you’ll be able to save a lot of valuable time and focus on the core of your business.
How to Conduct a Website Audit
Now that we’ve answered the why and the when, let’s focus on the how in terms of auditing your website for technical issues. Let’s use SE Ranking’s site audit tool to see how an automated audit can help you.
So, once you’re on the platform, the first thing you need to do is add your website as a project. Make sure to specify your target keywords, the search engines, and the regions you want to track, and you’re also welcome to point out the websites you’ll be going up against in search.
Unless you disable the option, the system will then automatically audit your website as soon as you finish adding it as a project. The system will let you know via email so that you don’t have to sit idle and wait.
Next, find your website in the list of projects and go to Website Audit.
Now that we are in the Website Audit tool, let’s break it down for you in terms of the technical aspects it analyzes (so that there aren’t any issues with search engines), the user experience (so that people want to engage with your site), and content related check.
Technical Aspects to Look at in Audit Reports
Upon accessing Website Audit, you’ll first see the Overview page that provides a brief summary of your site’s technical state. On the left-hand side, you can access various detailed reports.
In addition to providing the overall health score of your website, you can also discover how many pages were found and crawled by the tool, how many URLs were found, the site’s Core Web Vitals metrics, as well as top issues and their distribution by category.
Moreover, you can check your domain metrics like its expiration date and Domain Trust score, learn how many pages are not indexed, the HTTP status codes of your pages, and much more to get the whole picture.
To get more specific information about your site’s technical issues, make your way to the Issue Report to see what issues were found and on what pages.
In addition, you can learn everything about each issue, and if you have a problem with one, you can easily find out how to fix it. Plus, to make it easier for you to understand where to direct your efforts, you can use quick filters to look only at critical errors, warnings, and notices.
SE Ranking is always being further developed to stay up to date with search engine updates. So if any new issues arise, the tool will make sure to audit your site against them, as is the case with Core Web Vitals.
All of the issues in Website Audit are conveniently broken down into 19 categories, namely:
- Website security
- Duplicate content
- HTTP status code
- Website Speed
- Textual content
- Internal links
- External links
- Mobile optimization
This comes in handy if you need to focus on a specific issue and not a page of your website. That way, you can focus your efforts on resolving an issue like loading speed and then gradually move on to issues that aren’t as significant to your site’s performance in search.
If you want to focus on a specific URL of your website, go to Crawled Pages.
Here you’ll see all of the pages that were found by the audit and can dive into the issues that might be preventing your pages from ranking high in search. Various filtering options also give you the freedom to find the exact pages and issues you need.
User Experience Issues
Let’s say that you have an online shop where you sell custom design clothing. Hundreds if not thousands of people will check your website every day to find the product they’re looking for. They go through the options, add items to the cart, start checking out, and then bounce.
Something’s off and you start investigating. What’s getting in the way? Are other pages also experiencing similar engagement issues?
Once again, auditing your website can help find issues that are forcing people who engage to run for the virtual door. Using Website Audit, you can:
- Make sure that your pages are properly structured
- Verify that every important page can be reached in just a few clicks from any page
- Identify pages that are not linked to the site, aka orphan pages
- Check to see that the mobile version of the site is optimized and loads up quickly
- Measure Core Web Vitals that are essential for a user-friendly site
- Find all images and makes sure they aren’t too big and have a title along with the alt text
It’s extremely important for your website to work like a Swiss watch so that nothing gets in the way of people who want to get information from you or, more importantly, make a purchase.
Nowadays, you can’t afford to have a website that isn’t secure for its users and visitors. Too much is at stake with everyone sharing their data to make it easier to navigate the web and interact with websites.
Website Audit pays a great deal of attention to website security by:
- Checking your security certificate’s expiration date
- Make sure to see if your security protocol is up to date
- Looking for any mismatches in the certificate name
- Verifying your encryption algorithm is up to date
- Pointing out if there are any HTTP URLs in the XML sitemap
- Checking to make sure the site has HTTPS encryption, rel=”canonical” from HTTPS to HTTP
- Identifying HTTP to HTTPS redirects and vice versa
- Checking for mixed content issues
Every business owner wants to make sure that all of the pages that were worked on and optimized for search end up in Google’s index. Website Audit makes sure to point out any issues that are blocking your pages from getting indexed by the search giant.
Among other things, the Website Audit tool:
- Checks to see if your XML sitemap is missing or is too large
- Looks at whether there are any non-canonical or no index pages in the XML sitemap
- Makes sure that your robots.txt file can be found and contains the XML sitemap
- Checks for use of HTML frames
- Points out if your URLs are user-friendly and aren’t too long
- Identifies if your HTML and HTTP headers contain no index or no follow
- Analyzes canonical chains
- Verifies that nothing unwanted is blocked by robots.txt, no index, no follow, or by X-Robots-Tag
HTTP Status Codes
Whenever you visit a website, your browser sends a request to the site’s server. That server then sends a response to the browser’s request with a code consisting of 3 digits—the HTTP status code. Think of these codes as a conversation between your browser and the server.
To make sure that the conversation goes smoothly, Website Audit closely analyzes everything related to HTTP status codes. Namely, the tool:
- Checks to see whether there are any 4XX pages, 3XX redirects, 5XX pages in XML sitemap
- Points out pages and canonical URLs with 3ХХ, 4XX, and 5XX HTTP status codes
- Makes sure internal and external links don’t produce 3XX, 4XX, 5XX HTTP status codes
- Identifies hreflang and image status code issues
Basically, your website’s pages should ideally return the 200 OK status code, and if this isn’t the case, Website Audit will make sure to let you know so that you can get on it ASAP and make sure your pages are working properly.
Performing a Content Health Check
Besides making sure that search engines are able to understand your website and its pages, and that people aren’t confused with your site’s design, it’s also necessary for your content to be optimized.
Sure, a lot of content optimization is intended to help Google understand your page content better so that it knows how to rank it and what search queries to display it for. However, having optimized content also helps people absorb it more easily.
SE Ranking’s Website Audit has also got you covered there, as it points out any content duplicates to help you avoid keyword cannibalization.
On top of that, the tool takes textual content seriously and points out issues including:
- Low word count
- Missing, excessively long, or multiple H1 and H2 tags
- Identical title and H1 tags
- Issues relating to page titles and descriptions
Keeping Track of Progress by Comparing Audit Reports
Putting two site audit reports side by side quickly points out what progress has been made on your site’s technical setup. To boot, it gives you the granular data you need to understand what has changed over time.
Simply look either for a green or a red number next to a parameter in the most recent audit report to get a quick grasp of the situation and understand if the necessary progress is being made.
Monitoring Pages for Changes
With the help of the built-in Page Changes Monitor tool, you can keep track of the changes being made to the HTML code, titles, descriptions, keywords, canonical and alternate URLs, H1-H2 headers, robots.txt files, crawl status, and links of your top-performing pages, or any others. The best part is that you are automatically notified of such changes.
This enables you to know exactly what is happening to important pages and notifies you if they are altered by your colleagues, senior management, or even a client.
Checking On-Page SEO for Specific Pages
Furthermore, you can take advantage of SE Ranking’s On-Page SEO Checker tool to find out how well a specific page is optimized for its target keyword and SEO in general. It can be accessed via the top horizontal menu that contains tools that aren’t linked to projects.
The On-Page SEO Checker is similar to Website Audit, but it heavily focuses on making sure a specific page is optimized for search. In the page report, you can get a lot more information on the content of your page and how well it’s prepared for readers and search engines.
Over to You
By scheduling regular website audits, you can improve your website throughout the year.
Doing so will ultimately help you boost your site’s search rankings and get it in front of more people. If you get into the top 10, and people like what they see because you meet their search intent, you will generate more business.
Do you feel like your business’s strategy needs some work? Sign up for a free 14-day trial of SE Ranking today and get a Website Audit report in a matter of minutes!