How a website audit could help your business bounce back from Coronavirus

 In Google, Google Analytics, Local SEO, Search Engine Optimisation, SEO, Tools, Top Tips, Web Design, Web Development, Website Performance

Many businesses in the UK are at a standstill as the country fights the coronavirus pandemic. Having that quiet time is a great opportunity to carry out a website audit to make sure that your online presence is in the best possible shape to help your business bounce back from Coronavirus.

What is a website audit?

A website audit is a really thorough look at how well your website is meeting your business goals. It’s a chance to review progress, set some objectives and devise strategies and tactics to help you improve your online presence.

If that sounds like too much tech-speak. A website audit is like clearing out your kitchen cupboards. You see what’s missing and what needs updating, and you generally make your whole kitchen a whole lot more efficient. That way, as you move forward, you can spend your housekeeping budget on what’s going to be most useful to you.

A website audit looks at everything

  • Search engine ranking
  • Visitor numbers
  • How visitors find your site
  • User experience
  • Conversion rates
  • What is potentially losing you conversions
  • Aspects that might be hindering your SEO efforts and slowing down visitor numbers
  • Technical issues that have a negative effect on SEO and usability

Why do a website audit?

I recommend a mini-audit on a monthly basis and a more detailed report every 3-6 months depending on the business. Why? Because your website is an important asset for your organisation. It’s a virtual salesperson and as such, it should be monitored as carefully as you monitor your human employees. And just as your employees benefit from performance reviews, KPI’s training and development, your website will benefit from regular audits and improvements.
Once your website audit is complete, you will be able to see the strengths and weaknesses in your digital presence. Only when you have a complete picture can you begin to set goals and make improvements. You can fix some of the weaknesses yourself. Others might need to be addressed by an expert. Either way, while the world is waiting for Covid-19 to pass, you can be working on your website and making sure it’s ready for your return to work.

How to start your website audit

Keep calm. It’s not as scary as it seems. There are lots of online tools to help you.

Let’s go through this one step at a time.

Search Engine Ranking

Why is it important? It’s all about visibility. If your website isn’t visible to people looking for your products or services, how will they find you? If they can’t find you, they’ll buy from the site they can find. And that’s likely to be your competitor.

Google Search Console is a free tool that will help you discover how your website ranks for the search terms that are important to your customers.

It’s always my first port of call when conducting a website audit. Find out more here

If Google Search Console is not already set up for your site, simply follow the instructions Use the menu on the left hand side. Click on “performance” and then “queries”. You’ll see a lovely long list of the search terms that people have used to find your website in Google.

Now click on the button that says “export”. It’s usually towards the top right hand side of the screen. You’ll be able to download a really comprehensive list of search terms with their position in the google listings.

Don’t be overwhelmed. Pick the 10 search terms that YOU think are most important for your business to rank for.

Make a note of them. If the position is 1-4, well done. If not, we’ll come back to ways of improving your ranking.

Not sure which keywords you should concentrate on? This article will help.

Website Visitor Numbers

I use Google Analytics to discover a wealth of information about a site. If Google Analytics is not already set up for your website, please talk to me ASAP. This is an important tool but the set up does involve adding some code to your site. If you’re not confident, it’s best to ask a website developer to help you.

Visitor numbers will vary enormously from website to website depending on what the organisation does, how it is promoted and indeed the geographical area that the business works in. A local hairdresser for example will have far lower visitor numbers than a national online garden centre.

So don’t get too hung up on the numbers. Instead look at the trends.

Again, use that menu on the left hand side of the Google Analytics dashboard. Click on “Audience” and then “overview”.

At the top right hand side of your screen you’ll see a date range. You can click on that to see a longer or a shorter period of time. There is also a check box and a drop down menu so that you can compare numbers with the same period in the previous year – that’s always interesting.

Ideally, over a period of 12 months, you’ll see a gradual increase in website visitors.

How visitors find your site

In other words – where are the weak points in your marketing?

Staying in Google Analytics, go back to that left hand menu. Click on “Acquisition” and then “overview”

You’ll see a list of different channels that have been driving traffic to your website and the numbers of visitors that have used each channel.

“Organic Search” means that visitors have found you via a search engine

“Direct” traffic records the number of people who type your website address into their browser – in other words they either know your organisation or they’ve seen an advert or an article that mentions your URL.

“Social” refers to people who have spotted and followed a link from Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram or Pinterest

“Paid search” – these visitors have responded to your Pay Per Click campaign

“Referral” – you’ve been spotted in an article on another website

“Email” – if you use email marketing, the results of your campaigns will show up here.

Make a note of these figures too – especially the visitor numbers. These are the ones you can use to devise your new digital marketing strategy. For example, Could you make better use of social media? Are your email campaigns as effective as they could be?

User Experience

Once visitors have landed on your website, their first impressions will determine what they do next. Do they explore your site and go on to buy from you? Or do they hit the “back” button and look for something better.

A good indicator is the bounce rate. Head back to Google Analytics. Click on “behaviour” and then “overview”. The figures you need to note are the “time on site” and the “bounce rate. Bounce rate is a measure of how many visitors leave the site without interacting with it. Anything between 26% and 40% is average, a bounce rate of over 70% is cause for concern. (Unless your site is a blog or news site in which case a high bounce rate is expected)

First impressions count. Ask yourself – even better – ask a trusted friend.

  • Does the design of the website truly reflect your business?
  • Is the look and feel of the site up to date? A tired website won’t make your business seem attractive.
  • Can visitors navigate the site easily?
  • Are there any grammatical or spelling mistakes?
  • What about the wording? Is it clear and easy to understand (even for someone whose first language is not English?)
  • Make yourself a list of things to improve upon.

Conversion rates

What do you want your website visitors to do? Call you? Email you? Visit your high street shop? Download a document? Buy goods online?

Explore the “Conversions” section of Google Analytics. If it’s not very informative, you could ask your web developer to set up some goals. So that in future you can measure the effectiveness of your website.

As a rule of thumb, if you have an online shop, an e-commerce conversion rate of 2% is quite impressive. But it does tend to vary between industries.

If you’re not happy with your conversion rate, have a good think about what might be affecting it. Is it a navigation issue? product descriptions? Lack of technical information? prices? Site visibility? Too few or poor reviews? Or is your marketing driving people to the site who are not really interested in your products?

What’s slowing down your SEO?

By now, you are probably feeling overwhelmed with information. Don’t worry. There’s a lot to take in. So take your time to absorb what you’ve already learned before examining your search engine optimisation.

You might find that simple management tools like a spider chart or a spreadsheet will help you to assemble your thoughts.

A quick note about SEO

First and foremost, you must realise that SEO is like a race. You will only make it to the top of the tree if your website is stronger than your competitors.

So I would advise any business owner or marketer to include a competitor analysis in their website audit.

Here’s how to conduct a competitor analysis

SEO needs a scientific approach and it is multi-faceted. There’s a lot to think about but once you understand it, you can start to build an online marketing strategy.

If your website were an athlete, SEO would be his or her training regime. It takes diligence and constancy to build and maintain fitness. An athlete doesn’t train for a week before the race and then sit on the sofa eating burgers until it’s nearly time for the next event. In the same way, complacency in SEO, leads to performance losses.

The SEO section of your website audit needs to identify room for improvement in

  • Mobile friendliness
  • Security certificates
  • Alt tags on images
  • Meta descriptions
  • Page titles
  • Headings
  • Content Readability
  • Keywords and phrases
  • Page Speed

Is your website mobile friendly?

Use Google’s Mobile friendly test tool.

If your site is not mobile friendly it will be very difficult to get it to rank well. Talk to a website developer ASAP. This one really is urgent!

Security certificate

When your website is live on your computer, does the URL in the browser bar have a picture of a closed padlock beside it? And does it start with https:// ?
No? To rank well in search engines and indeed to show up in searches, your site needs something called an SSL certificate added to it.

Depending on where your website is hosted you may be able to add one yourself. If I’m honest though, if you’re not a confident techie it’s quicker and easier to ask a web developer to lend a hand. If you need advice, I’m here to help. Contact me here

Images and alt tags

You use your eyes (or a sight reader) to understand a website. Search engines can’t “see” pictures and so to understand the site they use headings, text and alt tags.

An alt tag is a little piece of descriptive text hidden behind an image.

A useful tool to find out whether the images on your site are missing their alt tags is Screaming Frog Download the free version to find out about missing alt tags and a whole lot more.

Download Screaming Frog here

Meta descriptions, titles and headings

Like alt tags these are more snippets that help search engines understand your website. These however, are also visible to visitors.

All of these need to be different for every single page on your website. They’re not important for things like T’s and C’s or privacy policies but for every other page (including blogs!) they’re crucial.

Use screaming frog again to spot any missing or duplicate meta descriptions, titles and headings. Change them if you can. Ask for help if you can’t.

Key phrases and Readability

I like to build websites in WordPress, not least because there is a wonderful plug in called Yoast SEO.

If Yoast is installed on your wordpress site, you’ll be able to look at the content management system and see instantly where there’s room for improvement. Look for red or orange coloured spots beside page titles.

Make a list of pages that needs improvement – rather than fry your brain any further in this article, we’ll come back to optimising content in another blog.

Finally – the big one – page loading speeds

Page loading time has an enormous impact on your search engine ranking. Search engines want to help people find information quickly and easily. A slow loading site annoys visitors and they will often leave before they’ve even seen the first picture.

Remember we talked about bounce rate? Here’s how loading speeds affect bounce rate

Use Google’s pagespeed insights to check how your site is performing. All you need to do is type in your website address, wait a few seconds for it to be analysed.

Google will then score your website and give you some tips for improvement.

As a rough guide, the optimal page speed for any website is 3 seconds but the level of tolerance varies between industries. If you can make your website faster and more efficient than your competitors you will increase your chances of outranking them. (use the pagespeed tool as part of your competitor analysis)

Help with your website audit

If you a confused, overwhelmed or just too busy to complete a website audit, I’m here to help. Ditto, if you have completed your audit and are unsure how to act on the information you’ve found.

Get in touch today for an informal chat and a FREE review of your website performance.
Talk to Gary at uThink1

For more information about search engine optimisation click here

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