23.07.2018 at 15:39
What is website audit? Its types and role
Business owners are often skeptical about site audit service. This is not surprising: after all, many just don’t know what results to expect, and for what do they pay money. Others, on the contrary, know it, but have a negative experience in ordering an audit or related SEO services.
Meanwhile, early site analysis can bring great benefits in the future with relatively small financial investments. Let's try to figure out what is included in the concept of audit, what forms does it have, and what is the role of each of them.
So, website audit is a check of various site metrics that affect its visibility in search engines, convenience for users, as well as the overall performance indexes (for example, conversion rate and number of sales). These factors can be:
- internal, which means related directly to the site (for example, the quality of content on the pages, the structure of the web resource, loading speed, internal linking);
- external (links to the site, competition in search results, demand on the Internet for the offered goods or services, reviews on independent online platforms, etc.).
Depending on what factors are checked during the audit, and what goals are set, several types of audit are distinguished.
In this form of audit, the site's technical parameters are checked. They affect site’s indexing and ranking in search engines, as well as its overall efficiency and quality. You should understand that the technical parameters of the site are a kind of foundation for its further growth and development. If the foundation is fragile, then the site will be very difficult or impossible to promote at all. Technical audit is also called basic, because more complex checks of a web resource usually start with it.
Usually, technical audit includes checking of (the list contains the main points):
- complete or partial duplicate content;
- content that does not carry any value (thin content, which includes non-informative pages, as well as technical "garbage", such as service pages not closed from indexation, search result pages, filter results, etc.);
- use of HTML tags and meta tags (such as,, header tags);
- server response codes (links to missing pages that report error 404, as well as unnecessary or suspicious redirects with response code 301/302 and 500 errors);
- directives of robots.txt file, which tells the search robot how to scan the site;
- sitemap.xml file (this file represents the structure of the site in a clear format for search engines);
- use of structured data (special formatting of data on the site, which helps the search robot to read and understand, for example, product information or contact details);
- internal and outbound links to other resources (if the site is crowded with external links, then you need to analyze which ones should be removed if they look similar to spam);
- loading speed of pages is a parameter that becomes especially important in recent years due to the growth of the mobile Internet.
Technical audit is suitable for almost any web resource. It can and should be implemented even at the stage of site development, before it reaches the network – this avoids many problems in the future and cuts off the promotion budget. The result of this analysis is a list of clear and unambiguous recommendations that the specialist usually does not make much effort to implement.
SEO audit is an analysis of factors that affect crawling, indexing and ranking of the site by search engines (Google, Yandex). Most of the parameters that are checked in technical audit are also analyzed in SEO audit, since they affect how the search robots interact with the site. However, the concept of SEO audit is broader and it can include such additional steps:
- semantic analysis of texts – verification of how the site’s content is optimized for search queries that bring or can potentially bring the owner a convertible traffic;
- checking the uniqueness of content on the site;
- link profile audit – search and analysis of external links to the site. If there are unusual and “spammy” links among them, then the result may be a recommendation to reject them using a special Google Disavow tool;
- site structure audit;
- analysis of indexing in search engines – search for important pages that have not been indexed for some reason (the reasons may be problems that are identified during the technical audit);
- checking reviews for the site and the brand on external sites – it’s the basis of the SERM (search engine reputation management).
Detailed SEO audit is needed primarily for commercially oriented resources, such as online stores or service sites. It helps to understand not only how the site uses its technical capabilities for ranking in search, but also how its offer meets the demand generated on the Internet. In the future, this understanding allows you to increase sales. The results of such an audit will be recommendations for correcting or supplementing the content, changing the structure of the site, which will require the participation of a webmaster and/or a copywriter.
In a separate group, the usability indicators audit is. It assess how easily, conveniently and effectively the user (potential customer) interacts with your resource, and how the user can solve his problems with it in a certain context. What is the context? In terminology of usability, the term "usage context" includes an understanding of where, when and how the user interacts with your site, for example, in the evening, lying on the sofa using a tablet.
Usually, during usability audit, the expert pays attention to:
- site compliance with Nielsen's heuristic rules of usability (user awareness of the system status, user's freedom of action, the ability to cancel incorrectly performed actions, etc.);
- the product's relevance to the needs of the target audience;
- cross-browser and cross-platform – whether the site works correctly on all popular browsers and devices.
It is worth to distinguish the concepts of usability audit and usability testing. The first one, mostly, refers to an expert evaluation of the resource by one person, and the second one is to engage a certain number of users who interact with the site following a certain scenario in a certain context. For better comparison and understanding, I'll give you a table.
Who conducts it?
Usually, a team of specialists
Does the user group take part?
What is the main source of data for audit recommendations?
Experience and knowledge of the expert. The expert interacts with the site and develops a package of recommendations based on understanding the needs of the target audience
Data of usability testing. The group of users from the target audience interacts with the site, following the developed scenarios. Their interaction experience is recorded, analyzed and serves as a basis for developing recommendations
When you see the data in the table, there may be an impression that expert usability audit is ineffective, because its recommendations are not based on objective data. Nevertheless, with the right approach and professionalism of the auditor, it is possible to see a lot and prepare a fairly complete conclusion about the current state of the site. Another important fact is that usability testing is more expensive.
Usability audit will be suitable for commercial sites, service sites, and software products. However, it can be useful for other kinds of resources (for example, informational and news).
This form of audit, in fact, has a slightly blurry definition: companies that provide marketing audit services put a bit different things into this concept. Marketing audit of the site is sometimes carried out separately, but often it is an integral element in other types of analysis.
Checking marketing factors on the site is conducted in comparison with competitors. This allows you to discover what allowed other market players to succeed, what elements of your site need to be improved to their level, and vice versa, which aspects are developed rather weakly by competitors, so you can use it.
Marketing audit of the site may include:
- competitive analysis;
- analysis of the target audience and the product/service offered on the site;
- analysis of marketing factors on the site (availability of up-to-date and complete contact information, quality descriptions of the service / product, competitive prices, loyalty programs, etc.).
As the name says, this form of audit involves checking all the parameters that are listed above. It offers the most complete analysis of site’s metrics, allowing you to take the maximum from its possibilities. Such a format of audit is recommended for commercial sites that are already on the market for some time: it will help them to improve key performance indicators and achieve their goals.
Express and deep audit
Often the audit of websites is also classified by the criterion of speed and depth. In this case, there are two types of it:
- express audit is a quick, superficial analysis that helps you find basic mistakes and shortcomings on the site. Most often it is used to "prepare the ground" for further in-depth analysis;
- deep audit is a more detailed and thorough analysis of the site, which allows you to collect the full amount of recommendations that help to improve the effectiveness of your resource.
Thus, site audit is an important set of actions for almost any Internet resource, and it should not be neglected. Implementation of audit recommendations results will helping:
- to increase traffic that comes to the site from both search and other sources;
- to make the site more user-friendly, which will reduce the bounce rate;
- to raise the effectiveness of the site, which will increase the conversion rate and sales or help to achieve other goals.
Do you want to improve your site right now? Then order the audit through the form on the main page! Alternatively, just call the phone numbers listed at the bottom of the main page or on the contacts page.