Performing a website audit is one of the most useful activities you can engage in to ensure your digital strategy is on track and in good shape. A website audit looks at all the content on your website and answers key questions:
- Is your site content driving the type of traffic you want?
- Is it improving your conversions?
- Is your website accomplishing your goals and expectations?
An audit is the best way to see if your website is actually doing what you want it to.
So, when and how often should you be conducting a website audit?
There isn't a hard and fast rule – some people advocate once or twice a year, some say as often as you can. But aiming to do a website audit once per quarter is a good rule of thumb.
There are great advantages in conducting regular quarterly website audits:
- Give you great baseline metrics
- Let you stay on top of SEO trends, or industry changes
- Make your data more manageable (and thus more useful)
- Keep your site up to date.
Let’s dig into these in a little more detail.
1. Regular audits give you great baseline metrics
"We got 100 clicks today" means nothing on its own.
Similarly, conducting a website audit isn’t going to tell you much if you don’t know what your baseline metrics are.
By performing regular audits, you will have baselines that you can compare to in the future, and extract real and actionable insights.
Let’s say you’ve made some big changes to your website and worked hard to improve your SEO. With solid baseline metrics from before the changes, you can actually see the difference your changes made.
Conducting regular website audits means that you have a solid bank of information about how your site has performed in the past, and you can always use this as a benchmark for how your site is doing now.
2. The world of SEO changes quickly – regular audits help you respond
Search engine algorithms are always being updated and tweaked. So naturally, websites also need to be updated and tweaked in response. Being up to date with the latest algorithms, and adapting your SEO strategy to them, is crucial.
In a recent article, we touched on iterative design for your website, and the concept applies to SEO as well. When it comes to SEO, you don’t want to be treating it as one-time thing. Instead, think of it as an ongoing, living project that you are always tweaking, testing, and re-evaluating.
Audits are a great way to keep tabs on your ongoing SEO project. A quarterly audit will highlight trends in your keyword research, let you know how effective changes to your SEO strategy have been, and give you a chance to think through keywords or content you might have been missing. You’ll spot problems quickly, and you can address them before they become bigger issues.
3. Performing regular audits makes your data more manageable
One of the major benefits of a website audit is that it gives you a chance to sit down and look closely at your site metrics and data. But if you wait too long to conduct an audit, you might not be able to access some of that data. Or, you might find it hard to break the data you can access into manageable and useful information.
The Google Webmasters Tool is a good example of this. The Webmasters Tool gives you a lot of data about bot activity on your site. The catch is that you are only able to view three months’ worth of data. If you haven’t done a website audit in a year, the three months of Google Webmaster data you can access won’t be as informative as it would be if you had been checking, extracting, and reporting on it regularly.
4. Audits help you make sure your site is always up to date
Unless you’re performing regular content audits, there’s a good chance there is information or content on your site that is outdated or inaccurate. There’s bound to be some content that isn’t getting any traffic, and you can spot this quickly by performing an audit.
On the flipside, fresh content is important for SEO. A quarterly audit will help you objectively see whether you’re keeping your content fresh and up to date. Content can get old online in no time, so the more often you are evaluating it, the better.
In addition to identifying what content is tanking, an audit gives you the chance to look at what content is really hitting your audience exactly right.
The Bottom Line
Site audits aren’t most people’s idea of a great time. But they’re an incredibly useful component of a digital business strategy. Performing audits regularly gives you more bang for your buck (and makes the process much less painful.)
A website audit is going to give you a wealth of information – about how your website is performing, how visitors are finding your website and whether your content is converting those visitors into customers, which parts of your site are working and which parts you can improve (or cut), and whether your SEO strategy is up to date.