Auditing your website can feel like a monstrous task, especially if you don’t consider yourself particularly tech-savvy. There’s a lot of ground to cover and you need to ask some tough questions about whether your website is fit for its purpose and functioning as a member of the team.
This the first in a short three-part series discussing How we can audit and improve our websites by looking at 3 key areas, and also how to identify some of the key pitfalls and avoid hurting our chances of doing well in the search rankings.
Why would I want to audit my website?
Well, a simple answer to this first question is, you would want to audit your website for the same reason you’d service your car and take it for a MOT. You want your website to be ‘roadworthy’ (or, web worthy) so that the search engines see it as a useful and reliable resource to present to users, and also so that users who come to your website from other channels, like E-mail marketing, or social media engagement, will take you seriously among the competition.
Let’s sidestep for a second and ask ourselves, “what is the role of a search engine?”
In heinously simplistic terms, a search engine’s sole purpose is to attempt to deliver the most relevant results based upon the user’s search terms. To sort out all of the billions (yes, literally billions) of web-pages available, search engines will use their algorithms to decide how relevance is measured, sorted and served to users.
Why is this important to you?
Unless you’re generating most of the traffic to your website through users directly entering your web address into their search bar or coming from direct channels like social media posts, you’ll want to take some time to think about where and how you show up in search results.
What does relevant mean to a search engine?
Have you ever landed on a website, read through the first few lines and found it has absolutely nothing to do with the topic you originally searched for? Or, there is so little information available you feel no closer to the answers you were looking for?
If you were a search engine, would you want your credibility tarnished by serving irrelevant webpages to users, or webpages which don’t function properly? I’m not a search engine, but I can certainly tell you that’s not how they go about their business.
So how do I get Search engines like Google to see my website as a relevant result?
There is no short answer to this question, so we’re going to break it down into three parts. The first key area to look at when auditing our websites is the structure of the website itself. This will be the focus for this first instalment in this short series.
There is a well noted correlation between a good website structure, and good traffic to your site. The first layer of interpretation is almost self-evident. Your website is trying to promote your business, tell your story, and convince visitors that you’re a trusted and reliable service to engage with. A hot mess of text and images plastered onto your webpage is never going to do a good job at presenting that argument and encourage visitors to stay on your website and read on.
The key point to take away here, is a good, modern well-structured website that offers relevant and useful content will equal a good user experience. Search engines consider much of the data generated from visitors interacting with your website when they decide how yours should fair in the search results. This will be covered in more detail in part 2.
It’s worth noting here that search engines also look to how well the code is structured in your webpage, when deciding how useful and reliable your website may be. To side-track for a quick second, one way that search engines approach reading your webpage is by interpreting the Hyper-Text Mark-up Language (HTML). This is essentially the scaffolding for a web page, and every block of content such as your menus, text and images, are all placed inside specific HTML tags which indicate to the browser, and the search engine, what this piece of content may be.
You also need to think about the overall structure in terms of your key webpages and how well they link together. In simple terms, you should ask yourself, is it easy for a visitor to find everything on my website? Are the buttons which link you to another page clearly labelling where the user may be going? If you have an e-commerce store, is it easy to find your latest promotions? Or your shipping policies?
If your web developer has written the HTML for the webpages in an efficient, modern manner, the structure of the website is clear, and it’s various pages are easy to navigate, then search engines will give this a little thumbs up, and take this into account when it decides just how a reliable source of information your website may be.
The ground we’ve covered in this post so far is by no means exhaustive in relation to what needs looking at when we audit our website structure, other key ingredients are a well-written sitemap, and encouraging the search engines to index’ your website.
Most marketing professionals will recommend using an Analytics tool to ensure they’re covering all of the bases in terms of auditing your website. A key point to take away is that you’ll want to use a tool which does a good job of letting you know where your scaffolding is well-built, as well as where the safety pins may have been left out.
So, what should you take away from this?
At the Jamieson Consultancy, we audited our website structure to see how well it stood up to the test. We utilised all of our knowledge of the web, plus our analytics tools of choice, and got down to brass tacks.
With any website that hasn’t undergone an audit in a few months, there will always be some ground to cover and this is a testament to the truly dynamic nature of the web and search engine relevance. Things don’t stand still…. Ever!
The analytics tool gave our website a score out of one-hundred, and after a long and arduous process of fixing every possible error that our website was showing we managed to achieve ninety-five out of one hundred on our ‘health-check’.
Was all that hard work worth it? Well for us, certainly. We saw an increase of 300% in leads directly from our website inside the first month of audit, which we were very pleased with!
Auditing your website is a complex and time-consuming process (if it’s done correctly), but the returns on the effort are often very much worth it.
Part 2 of this short series will be posted next week, where we’ll take a look at the next key area of auditing a website, analysing the traffic it receives.
If you’d like to speak to The Jamieson Consultancy about Auditing your website, spare a few seconds and fill-out the form below.