Nowadays, a well-structured and perfectly functioning website is one of the most important tools of the company. However, it is not uncommon for a website to not perform as it should or not perform its functions for no apparent reason. Then the best solution is an audit. Find out what it is, what types of website audits are, and why they are so useful!
What is a website audit?
The dictionary defines audit as “control of the company in terms of financial and organizational, valuation of its assets and analysis of its development prospects, carried out by experts”. In practice, it is a very broad concept referring not only to entire enterprises, institutions or other organizations, but also to their specific organizational units, processes or projects. Audits are also carried out in the digital space against systems, applications or websites. They mainly boil down to control, problem identification and perspective analysis.
Website audit can cover various areas. It consists in checking its operation and identifying the reasons why it does not allow to achieve the expected results. The analysis may concern both the technical and legal, marketing or general business dimensions. In any case, it should be a very thorough process, necessarily carried out by an objective subject. Therefore, website audit is basically always outsourced to an external unit – one that had nothing to do with the creation or maintenance of a given website. It is necessary to reveal any flaws or problems – and for this you need objectivity.
Why are website audits performed?
Audits of websites are carried out especially when their owners are looking for solutions to certain problems or the reasons for the lack of the expected results. Depending on the reasons for the willingness to carry out the analysis, it applies to a specific area of the website. It can also be carried out to control the results of the actions taken. A specific type of audit is worth carrying out, for example, when:
– positioning activities do not bring the expected results,
– despite the increased traffic on the website, sales are still standing still,
– users spend a lot of time on the site, but do not go to the next subpages, etc.
The audit is then the basis for taking corrective actions, allowing to identify the causes of the problems. It can also help in making decisions about starting cooperation with an SEO agency / marketing agency or changing the provider of this type of service.
Types of website audits
A website can be subjected to various types of audits tailored to specific needs and problems. There are three main types of website audits:
– IT audits,
– marketing (business) audits,
– legal audits.
The first group concerns purely IT issues. The following can be distinguished in it:
– security audit,
– performance audit,
– software legality audit.
They consist in checking the technical parameters of the website and looking for errors that may lower the obtained results or pose specific threats.
Marketing audits, also known as business audits, mainly refer to how the functioning of the website affects the company’s turnover. This group includes:
– SEO audit,
– UX audit,
– audit of analytical systems (e.g. Google Analytics),
– audit of advertising campaigns.
They consist in the analysis of the website in terms of optimization in terms of search engine requirements or user behavior. Conducted by experts, they are able to identify many significant errors and ways to correct them. The audit also helps to find out why certain efforts do not bring the expected business results.
Please note that the website must operate legally. In particular, companies and institutions must comply with the provisions regarding, for example, the protection of personal data or consumer rights. In this group, the following are most often carried out:
– GDPR audit (related to the protection of personal data),
– audit of the online store regulations.
It consists mainly in the analysis of the applied procedures and provisions and their compliance with legal requirements.
What is an SEO audit?
SEO audit is one of the most important tools that can be used to improve the results of a website. Positioning is currently one of the most effective ways to promote your website. It is based on an in-depth analysis of all parameters influencing SEO. Its scope is not strictly defined, but it should definitely provide:
– an overview of all website elements important from the SEO point of view,
– evaluation of their optimization and adaptation to the requirements of search engines,
– indication of strengths and weaknesses of the current state of website optimization,
– indication of opportunities to improve optimization in specific areas,
– detection of problems in adapting the website to the guidelines.
The result of an SEO audit should be an exhaustive report that can be a determinant of further optimization of the website. The auditor is required to know the latest SEO guidelines and usability trends, as well as to be scrupulous and objective.
Why is an SEO audit so important?
Currently, SEO is often called the most important and effective form of advertising for companies. This is for a number of reasons. First of all, the wide access to Internet services means that more and more people use Google to search for information about products or services. This means that not being present in the search results is the same as losing the opportunity to attract many new customers. In addition, Google’s search engine algorithms are becoming more and more refined. As a result, the first places of search results usually contain pages that present the most interesting, comprehensive and reliable information on a given topic. This leads to increased confidence in the algorithm choices. As a result, as many as 92% of Google users do not even look at the other side of the search results. In order to be within their reach, one must foretell intense activities in the field of positioning.
Auditing websites in terms of SEO is so important for another reason as well. Positioning is really based on assumptions – the algorithms are constantly being improved, but the precise guidelines they follow when determining the page position are unknown. However, there are even more than 200 factors that determine the position of a site. Therefore, it is impossible to set gold standards or a rigid framework of conduct in this area. However, an SEO audit conducted for a specific website helps to see what works and what doesn’t. As a result, more and more effective procedures can be implemented.
What does an SEO audit cover?
Audit of websites in terms of SEO should certainly be meticulous. It requires looking at many aspects of the website’s operation and its various parameters. However, the most important issues are:
– indexing – checking the correctness of page indexing;
– keywords – analysis of phrases on which the page is visible;
– content – their influence on strengthening the appropriate phrases;
– linking – the correctness of its implementation and the effects in terms of strengthening the relevant subpages;
– cannibalization of phrases – checking if there are any tabs within the page that position themselves on the same keywords; – duplicate content
– duplicate content;
– long tail positioning – resources enabling positioning for phrases, the so-called long tail;
– URL addresses – their correctness and “friendly” structure;
– meta tags – their correct display, structure and content of keywords;
– responsiveness – correct display of the website on mobile devices;
– security – effectiveness of the applied security measures;
– performance – loading speed of subpages and their content.
Who is the SEO audit for?
SEO audit is a very important tool for basically any website. Regardless of whether you are working on positioning or just about to take action in this direction, conducting an audit will be an excellent starting point. A professionally conducted SEO audit is a source of a lot of valuable information and can help you improve your SEO strategy almost immediately. It will be especially advisable to carry it out:
– in the process of creating a website,
– when key changes are made to the website,
– before changing the positioning strategy or SEO service provider,
– in order to eliminate penalties or threats in this respect.
Even if you do not have the means to hire a professional auditor, it is always worth taking advantage of a fast, automatic and free online audit. This will give you general ideas about the areas that need improvement. The resulting reports are not very detailed, but they can be useful for sure!
What is a UX audit?
UX stands for “User Experience” which means user experience. This term is used to describe all the feelings experienced by a person using a given website. These can be both positive and negative. A useful website (i.e. one with a good UX) is easy to use, fast and intuitive. It allows you to easily find the information you are looking for, and does not annoy you with pop-up windows or an excessive amount of ads. It guides the user smoothly through all steps of the purchasing process and enables easy and pleasant conversion. However, there is also a flip side to the coin. Probably every Internet user has found himself at least once on a page from which he wanted to escape as quickly as possible. Slow operation, uncomfortable interface, lack of important information are just some of the problems that can appear on websites – importantly, even on very carefully constructed ones. Website developers often find it difficult to look at their work from a distance, so they may not notice some significant errors. Then the UX audit turns out to be extremely useful.
Like other website audits, the one regarding UX should be carried out by an impartial entity. It consists in testing whether the website meets its goals. It can be carried out by various methods.
What does the UX audit look like?
The website usability analysis can be carried out using various methods and tools. A comprehensive UX audit of a website should include many different ways of analyzing its operation. What are these ways?
Expert analysis – heuristic and cognitive
Two methods of expert analysis use the developed UX methodologies to assess the usability of a website. Heuristic analysis is based on the principles of creating websites – e.g. 10 Nielsen and Molich Heuristics, 8 golden Schneiderman principles or 30 Connell usability principles. The auditor carefully, point by point, checks the website’s compliance with the requirements of these rules and finds errors. The second method of expert analysis is cognitive wandering. Then the auditor plays the role of a user who wants to perform a specific action. The process includes testing various scenarios of conduct – making purchases, subscribing to the newsletter, searching for specific information or products, etc.
Analyzing User Behavior on the Website
Another excellent method of UX research is analyzing user behavior on the website. It uses, among others eye tracking, i.e. tracking the movements of the user’s eyeballs in order to check where their eyes are intuitively. As part of this analysis, the so-called heatmaps, i.e. graphical diagrams showing where the clicks are concentrated, what the user’s cursor movements look like or to which point the user scrolls the page. Thanks to this, you can gain very valuable knowledge to increase conversion and make your website more user-friendly.
Content usability testing
The UX audit should also analyze the content. The so-called content experience tells about whether the text on the website is sufficiently specific and comprehensive, whether it is accessible to read and whether it encourages conversion.
Preparation of UX mockups
Part of the UX audit is also the preparation of suggestions for changes to the website. For this purpose, UX mockups are prepared. They are based on the conclusions drawn from the conducted analyzes and specify where and how improvements can be made.
A / B tests
A / B tests are a way to check the effectiveness of the proposed solutions. They are carried out with the help of users. It consists in presenting two research groups with the same page that differs in one specific element (it may also be several elements, but such research is less precise) and asking them to perform a specific activity. The results (e.g. in terms of conversion efficiency) indicate which version is better for the user.
The selection of tools to support your website testing depends primarily on the goals of the analysis, capabilities and budget. You can carry out:
– moderated user tests – based on specific scenarios,
– unmoderated user tests – checking the natural reaction to the website,
– analysis of eye movement, cursor, etc. – very objective method due to its minimal invasiveness,
– surveys – questionnaires with questions about the site,
– card sorting – a type of test that allows you to check whether the hierarchy of elements on the page is properly read by users,
– paper prototyping – creating paper mockups of the website to discuss them with users.
What does a UX audit help with?
A website usability audit is an extremely useful tool. Thanks to it, it is possible to recognize and remove many errors that have a negative impact on the business results of a given company. The most frequently detected UX errors include:
– incomprehensible nomenclature,
– complicated presentation of terms of sale, delivery, payment, returns,
– too complicated menu structure,
– too long forms,
– unresponsive design,
– no sorting option,
– unintuitive product comparison engine,
– long page loading time,
– unclear pricing policy,
– lack of essential information on available products or offers.
Some of them may seem trivial, but the results after eliminating them speak for themselves. This is why UX audit is such an important business tool.
Who is the UX audit for?
Who needs a website audit in terms of UX? Anyone really. It is quite a time-consuming and resource-intensive process, but the results are definitely worthwhile. It is especially useful to conduct usability audits to identify the causes of ineffectiveness in achieving business goals. It is worth conducting it at the stage of creating the website – it will result in creating a friendly and useful website.