Website maintenance is the job that never ends, and over time things change. New people take over, priorities shift, styles evolve, restructuring happens, new products are introduced, and Google changes there algoritim yet again. You haven’t redesigned your website, yet it’s an entirely different beast than it was the day you launched it. It’s probably been awhile since you’ve really gone through it to make sure your product page snippets are on point and that you haven't missed an alt tag here or there. Traffic is down and there’s growing concern that your website is slipping in search rankings. You want to make sure that there aren’t some basic issues with the site that could be affecting SEO and sales. Let's be honest, it’s not unlikely that someone got sloppy with those website updates. So it’s time to get out your reliable website audit checklist and make sure every page is dressed up in its Sunday best.
A content audit is a page by page review of everything on your website to ensure it’s driving the traffic you're targeting and optimized for conversions. Yes, it’s a comprehensive endeavor, but it doesn’t have to be a difficult one. So what does everything include? Here’s the list:
- Navigation title
- Page name
- Content hierarchy
- Topic, tags or category
- Meta description
- Page copy
- Image and graphics
- Image Alt tags
- Attached files
- Sidebar links and call-to-action buttons
- Social media impact
- Page owner/author
- Annual quantity sold for ecommerce product pages
When we conduct an audit, we create a spreadsheet which includes a row for every URL on the site, and a column for each item above. For every page row, we highlight cells that are due for an update considering these three core questions:
Are we reflecting the current business?
Like we said, things change. It’s likely been awhile since you put those words on the page. If your company has gone through the process of reevaluating goals and services, there's a good chance that the content no longer reflects what you are about and where you are headed. If you're business has an ecommerce presence, you want to ensure that each item on the product page is up-to-date and consistent.
Are we thinking from the perspective of our customers?
Today, the web is social and interactive. Gone are the days where all it took was a URL, fancy Flash graphics, and an expensive advertising campaign to temporarily boost traffic. The reason for this shift is largely due to changing buyer behavior. Today’s buyer wishes to consume information when they want and how they want and often-times without the involvement of a sales person. And more importantly, they want to be educated and not sold to. We also need to make sure we’re presenting our services and products the way they buy them. It’s easy to structure our site to reflect our company’s org chart, but it’s possible that our customers may approach our offerings differently.
If your business includes ecommerce, the quantity sold column helps identify what's working, where to put additional effort, and where the low hanging fruit may be.
Are you targeting the right keywords?
According to Internet Live Stats, we expect to exceed 1 billion websites in 2015. That figure surely puts perspective the challenge of being found. There are two mistakes we make when determining what keywords to target. The first is targeting keywords that no one is searching for, and the second is targeting keywords that are so competitive we have no real chance for ranking in them. There are a number of tools we can use to identify keywords we should be focused on. MOZ and SEMRush are robust paid tools. Google’s Keyword Planner is a free resource that is also useful. You type in a keyword and Keyword Planner suggests other ideas, and what the volume and competitiveness look like in the hopes to help Adwords advertisers spend money more efficiently.
It’s also important to note that when it comes to effectively using keywords, it’s important to use them naturally. More is no longer better. In fact, Google now penalizes sites that attempt to be improve their rank by artificially stuffing their website with terms.
“In creating a helpful, information-rich site, write pages that clearly and accurately describe your topic. Think about the words users would type to find your pages and include those words on your site.” - Google
So there you have it. It's not so much that a website audit is difficult, it's just time consuming. Do yourself a favor and identify someone on your team that has a passion for UX and good attention to detail that can support your efforts. When it's all said and done, you'll have great insight to work on that website redesign project that's probably just around the corner...