Attention Brokers: How Many of You are Doing Website Audits?
The word “audit” has such a bad reputation, it should be a four-letter word, not five. You hear audit, and you think “hassle.”
However, put the word “website” in front of it, and—I promise you—this audit is good news for your business.
When you perform a website audit, you’re increasing your site’s visibility. An audit helps customers see your website, which can generate business.
To be clear, I’m not talking about buying ads or keywords. This is about making sure the back-end of your website—the part that makes your site visible to Google—is working for you.
That ensures you’re appearing as close to the top of the first search results page as possible, which in turn helps lead to organic growth. Your website is like your home’s foundation — it needs to be solid.
These days, we all have websites. Whether they’re small and simple or large and complex, it’s the foundation of your business and it’s how people find you and get to know about your services.
And, just like any foundation, it needs to be rock-solid. If it isn’t, everything else can get a little wobbly.
Treating a website audit like a home inspection
A house may look great — professionally staged, with gleaming hardwood floors and high-end granite countertops. But the smart buyer hires a home inspector to see what’s going on behind the scenes.
A professional identifies the critical things that determine how solid the structure really is. Even if your website looks fantastic, it still needs an audit.
An audit detects those things you can’t see with the naked eye. But the search engines see them. Those factors determine how far up your site appears on search pages.
You may have a beautiful site and great content. But if it’s invisible to Google, you’re not getting the exposure you need to build business.
How do you know if you really need an audit?
Just like the beautifully staged home, you don’t, unless you know what to look for.
Skip the home inspection and inevitably the problems will start to appear after you move in. If you skip the audit, you’ll start to notice your website isn’t generating traffic or leads.
We’ve done hundreds, if not thousands, of audits and we’ve never found a site that has no issues.
Generally speaking, 300 is about the fewest we ever see. It’s common to find thousands of issues that are affecting how search engines rank a website. And most of these are really easy to fix.
You don’t necessarily need to wait until you’re doing a website redesign to do an audit, either. Fixing the guts of your website will make a difference, even if you don’t plan to re-design or re-write immediately.
The top 4 issues we find in website audits
You don’t have a sitemap. That means Google can’t find all your pages or navigate your site easily. If the search engine can’t find its way around, it doesn’t understand your site, so it assumes people won’t either.
You chose headings based on what looks nice. Headings, like your sitemap, help search engines understand your site’s structure. The hierarchy of headings matters even more behind the scenes than up front.
No image descriptions. Called “alt text,” these are different than captions. Using alt text to describe every image makes your website accessible to everybody, regardless of their vision quality. Accessibility for all helps with your search results, too.
You have broken links. Links to supporting information are a great help to visitors to your site and can improve your rankings. But, having a broken link is worse than having no links at all.
An audit lets you see what the search engines see
Think of a website audit as a behind-the-scenes tour. You’ll be able to see how Google and Bing rank your site and how your site ranks for key search terms. You’ll get scores on the tests that the search engines run on your site.
That tells you exactly where you have problems to address, and where you can make changes that let you climb to the top of page one in search results.
Can you DIY it?
Lots of sites offer website audit checklists to help you do an audit. While some of those tips may improve search engine results slightly, you won’t get the big bang that a full audit offers.
That’s because most audit checklists deal with the issues you can see. A full website audit looks under the surface (just like the home inspector) and finds problems you can’t see upfront.
And those are the ones that will make a big difference to your search results – and your organic growth.
The next step is addressing the issues
You should set aside a budget to fix the issues. However, these aren’t typically very expensive. The impact to your bottom line should more than make up for the cost to do the fixes.
If your budget is tight, your auditor should work with you to identify the items that give you the biggest bang for your buck.
The audit is the first step to making sure your website is working its hardest for you.
It’s important to remember that your website ranking won’t change overnight — there’s typically a three- to six-month lag time. Like turning on the hot water tap, things take a while to warm up.
And, just like turning the tap off, if you don’t keep going, things dry up pretty quickly. It takes longer to climb the Google and Bing rankings than to slip back down.
Just as a house requires regular maintenance, so does your website. An audit can help you understand what you have to do to maintain your high ranking.