A step website audit checklist

It’s with a quality website that you’ll earn the trust of users.

According to a Stanford University study on web credibility, 75% of users rate a company’s credibility based on the quality of its website. Many factors contribute to the user experience of a website, whether positive or negative, such as its design, loading speed, content quality, ease of navigation, user-friendliness and so on.

Competition is increasingly fierce these days, so it’s vital that you make sure your website performs perfectly on all the points mentioned above.

The best way to carry out a complete evaluation of a site is to carry out a site audit.

Use this checklist to evaluate your customers’ business websites. Download our 15-step site audit template at the bottom of this guide to create a complete audit report. These 15 checklist items are an important first step when you start working with a new customer and can also be used on a more regular basis as part of an annual review of website performance.

Check Google Analytics tracking code
If the Google Analytics tracking code is embedded directly on the website, or if it’s run via a third-party plugin, you should consider moving this code to Google Tag Manager. This is Google’s free tag management tool. It is installed on the site once, and can then be easily managed from the Tag Manager dashboard.

In simple terms, it’s a container into which you can add any tags/pixels (including GA) that are needed for tracking, retargeting or any other purpose.
ga tag manager

Check that events and targets are configured
Events” are the key website actions you want to control in GA. For example, perhaps you want to offer users a multi-page registration form, and determine when they reach a particular stage. Or perhaps you have an image gallery and want to determine when users finish viewing it.

All these actions that users can perform on a website are called “events”. You’ll need your developer to add JavaScript to your site’s key actions so that GA is notified when such events occur.

All these actions that users can perform on a website are called “events”. You’ll need your developer to add JavaScript to your site’s key actions so that GA is notified when such events occur.

Goals are linked to events. These also need to be configured in GA, in the admin section. You can create goals based on URL rules, on user behavior on the site (visit times and page views), or on events.

The distinction between events and objectives is as follows: objectives must represent the definitive “conversion” (i.e. purchase, submission of a form, registration, subscription, etc.), whereas events are significant actions that occur during the journey and for which conversion is the end goal.

Check Google Analytics traffic trends

Paul Koks explains that when you first analyze your customer’s GA account, you need to “ask a business question first”. If goals are defined, identify the sources of traffic that have the greatest value (or lead to the highest number of conversions).

Segment these users and find out more about their behavior on the site. Are visitors coming from traffic sources that give the best results increasing or decreasing over time? And, on the contrary, which traffic sources are less conducive to conversion?

What short-, medium- and long-term trends can you identify? When presenting to the customer, this part of the audit should illustrate the behavior of the ideal web visitor.

Check mobile compatibility.

Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool is perfect for quickly testing a website’s mobile compatibility. Simply enter a URL to check that it works on mobile devices:

mobile test

If this tool ever determines that the site is not mobile-friendly, you should urgently suggest to your client that it be updated to be mobile-optimized. The Googlebot crawls the internet to index sites on a mobile browser. Google calls this “mobile-first indexing”.

If you’d like to learn more, you can consult our Guide to the Meta Viewport tag to help your customers make their websites more responsive and optimize them for use on mobile devices.

Evaluating on-page SEO

On-page SEO encompasses several areas of the website’s HTML code. You should check each of the following tags to learn about and implement best practices:

tag: the optimum length should be between 10 and 70 characters. <br /> Meta Description tag: optimal length should be between 70 and 320 characters. <br /> Header tags: ensure that the use of <h1>, <h2> and <h3> is sufficient and appropriate. <br /> ALT tags for images: make sure all images contain description ALT tags. </p>

Checking for indexing problems

Indexing problems occur when search engines try to index a website, but technical problems prevent them from indexing certain pages.

There are 3 priority checks to carry out:

First, check that there are no tags in the HTML code preventing the site from being indexed by search engines.

The main culprit is called “Noindex” in the tag. In general, these tags are legitimate, but it’s a good idea to check all pages that contain them. That way, you can check each of them with the client, and make sure they need to be hidden. Google Search Console allows you to view the status of each page once it has been successfully checked or excluded from this review.

Next, check that the site has a valid XML Sitemap submitted to Search Console. It should look like this:

Finally, check that the site has a robots.txt file. This little file tells Googlebot which pages it should and should not crawl. If you don’t know how to check whether this file exists, you can read our complete Guide to Robots.txt.

Perform page speed tests

Site loading speed is a major ranking factor, so it’s important to carry out page speed tests and ensure that key page’s load in the optimum time. Google itself has written extensively on this subject.

Slow page speed also has a negative impact on the user experience, leading to a drop in traffic if users arrive from links originating from referral sources.

Use Google’s Page Speed Insights tool to analyze any page and pay particular attention to the “opportunities” below the speed analysis. This section helps you to improve loading times, and gives an estimate of the number of seconds saved by each element implemented:

page speed insights

Evaluating content

Creating quality content is one of the most effective measures for improving search engine rankings. We recently published an article on this subject, and it’s one of our six most important principles for quality SEO. When reviewing your client’s content, consider the following factors:

Keyword use and density
In step 4, we talked about keyword density, but it’s also important to determine which terms your customer wants to rank for. It’s possible that your client hasn’t determined a list of keywords.

In this case, you need to assist him by first indicating which terms appear most frequently on his site, using the Keyword Density and Consistency Tool, and then determining whether these searches correspond to his business objectives.

Site behavior
Use Google Analytics to monitor key metrics that may indicate under-performing content. If the site has a blog section, check the Landing pages section, under Behavior -> Site content and, in the search field, insert part of the URL to identify the blog pages (“/blog/”, for example).

Site behavior
Use Google Analytics to check the key metrics that may indicate under-performing content. If the site has a blog section, check the Landing pages section, under Behavior -> Site content and, in the search field, insert part of the URL to identify the blog pages (“/blog/”, for example).

Next, check the bounce rate and average session duration. If these values are below the site average, you can conclude that the quality of the articles is problematic.

Qualitative study
There’s nothing like a direct conversation with your target customer/user to find out what they think of the website’s content. Try having conversations with certain target customer profiles and ask them to browse the site and read certain articles to give you an honest opinion.

Here are some key questions you can ask them:

What do you think of the site’s content? (Avoid positive/negative connotations).
Do you trust the content?
Would you return to this site in the future?

Evaluating the user experience

There are many things to do when evaluating the user experience (UX) of a website. Usability Geek has published an excellent guide to this subject. The main aim of this step is to put yourself in the users’ shoes, to understand how well the site satisfies their needs, whether in terms of information, transactions or even functions.

As a first step, try to understand the link between the customer’s business objectives and those of the users, then consider the following factors:

Information architecture (site navigation)
Does the main navigation flow smoothly and is the site easy to use?
Are there too many or too few menu items?
For larger sites: are menu items intuitive enough?

Intuition” refers to the user’s ability to navigate and choose navigation options without hesitation or confusion.

Layout and design
Does the website follow best practices and use familiar navigation and calls to action? Crazy Egg’s 16-point guide explains best practice in website design.
Does the website follow established design standards?

According to Andy Crest Odina, Director of Web Design at Orbit Media, a design standard is adopted if it is accepted.

Competitive analysis

The website audit report may contain several suggestions for action. To put these metrics into context, you’ll need to compare them with those of your competitors.

White-label audit reports allow you to evaluate your websites against those of your competitors. The process is simple: simply enter the URLs of competitors to see all the audits carried out on your site and on competitors’ sites:

For continuous monitoring of changes to competitors’ websites, you can use a tool like Compete shark, which automatically monitors their sites and sends a notification when changes are made.

Identify faulty links

Faulty links on your customer’s website can have a negative impact on their search engine rankings. That’s why it’s a good idea to spot them so you can fix them quickly. You can use a free tool, Broken Link Checker, to examine broken links on a site.

You can copy and paste URLs to check several pages at once!

Check keyword rankings

The Keyword Tool is perfect for checking rankings, search volume and tracking keyword performance over time.

Simply add the list of keywords for which the customer wants to be ranked (or for which you feel they should be ranked), and the tool will return the top-ranked page for each keyword (page rank), its location on the search results page (position), as well as estimated traffic and total monthly searches (total search volume).

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