Now that the New Year has started you should perform a WordPress website audit to refine your site and ensure it is functioning optimally. Why? Because an annual audit can help your website grow your business.
A website audit is a full analysis of everything associated with your website’s search visibility, usability, and security. A complete website audit will reveal why your site is not generating the traffic you think it should or why your sales and conversions are not improving.
There are many website SEO audit tools available online allowing you to do it yourself but beware. These tools are in no way a true account of the strength of your website and do not offer you real value in terms of what needs to be corrected to improve traffic and conversions. They also usually audit the single URL page of the website, not the entire website.
Another limitation is that unless you know what you are doing, correcting a problem may be elusive.
Any system that is refined is ultimately simpler, cleaner, and easier to use. That is exactly what your customers and visitors want. Here are 7 tips for a WordPress website audit that includes content, security, maintenance, usability, and marketing.
1. Do a WordPress Website Audit for Content
Although there aren’t many rules for displaying your content, you do want a website that has consistency and performs well. Often that is a matter of emphasizing a degree of professionalism in the text of each page, and also the images.
You must correct spelling and grammar errors. Nothing says “Oops!” louder than incorrect spelling and poor word choices (or an obvious cut and paste error). These simple errors will turn a potential sale off and increase the difficulty of communication—exactly what you do not want to do. Grammarly offers a free online service to check grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors for free.
Images are being added to the stock photography sources online every month. Use these in your blog posts, About Us page, and Home page, and consider adding new, fresh images throughout your website.
Test your website forms and calls to action (CTAs). This is a good idea whenever the website contact forms and links cease to deliver visitors to your e-mail inbox. Without periodic tests, you will never know if someone wants to reach you but can’t because their contacting attempts have gone into a black hole somewhere.
2. Find and Update Broken Links
How embarrassing! To discover that visitors that want to read something on your website are unable to do so because of a broken link; it’s equally bad for Googlebot trying to index a page it cannot find! The User Experience (UX) and the SEO will suffer due to internal and external broken links.
This happens frequently when something is altered on a page, such as renaming the page title and changing the permalink, and then links are unable to find the page due to the change.
To help expedite this task use the free website Online Broken Link Checker. It’s fast and easy to use.
Simplify finding and fixing broken links by installing the WordPress Broken Link Checker plugin into your site.
Install the Google Chrome Extension from the Chrome Web Store to help you check for broken links on your site.
NOTE: The Chrome extension can only be installed if you are using the Chrome browser and a compatible operating system. If the install button doesn’t show up then you can’t use the extension.
3. Do a Security Audit
We’ve all seen the reports and the panic that ensues with high-profile data breaches affecting large companies such as Target, Yahoo, and others raising questions of data safety.
Hackers worldwide are using web applications such as login pages, shopping carts, and contact forms to access the databases of many organizations. Poor programming and the lack of a security audit can be blamed for security breaches.
But before going into the weeds with your security audit software, perform the simpler steps to ensure you are doing the basics first. Simplest would be changing passwords for your WordPress administrator accounts. If available, review security logs for warnings or critical issues that may have surfaced.
If your website is large be sure to audit who has access to it and clean up and delete access to people that are no longer working there or who should not have access to your site.
Install the WordFence WordPress plugin that notifies you when someone has entered your administration page.
Take advantage of the Golden Oak Web Design WordPress Security Service. Here you will get a short explanation of the WordFence plugin and what it does to secure your website 24/7.
4. Do a Backup Audit
Many are the times when a change is made and there is an error somewhere, or there is corruption and you need to revert back to the most recent version posted prior to the website changes. A simple backup can save the day. Make sure that your final draft is backed up once it is published. (Experience says that you will thank me for that piece of advice. You’re welcome.)
Use the Golden Oak Web Design WordPress Backup Service to ensure:
- Automatic backups are happening on schedule.
- Automatic offsite backups are happening on schedule.
- Backup logs for errors (if any logs are available) are reviewed.
- The UpdraftPlus WordPress plugin is installed. It greatly simplifies restoration of a previously published site.
5. Purchase an SSL Certificate for Your Website (If You Haven’t Already)
If you plan to accept credit card payments or use an online form on your website you need an SSL certificate.
SSL is a contraction for secure sockets layer. SSL certificates (and now TLS) are the foundation of website protection, and are vital for any business with an online presence, especially in 2018; Google is taking note this year of websites that aren’t using an SSL.
SSL certificates permit a browser to unite a secure connection to your server, ensuring that the information is securely transferred.
To determine if a website is SSL secure look at the URL structure. If a website’s URL starts out with “HTTP,” it is not SSL secure. If it starts with “HTTPS,” then it is secure. Keep in mind that problems with the web design can cause the browser to alert visitors that the page being viewed is not entirely secure (usually due to a coding mistake). Use an online tool like Why No Padlock? to determine where the issue is occurring on the website.
SSL encrypts information submitted on a website such as credit card numbers, social security numbers, contact forms, etc. so that it’s readable only to the intended recipient, which can only be accessed with an encryption key. No key, no admittance.
When information is submitted on a website, it usually goes through a conduit of computers before it reaches the intended person. Chances of that information being breached or stolen along the way are higher if an SSL certificate is not installed.
What’s more, websites may rank poorly if not using an SSL. This change affects all websites. When people try to access a website without an SSL certificate, a ‘Not Secure’ message is generated which will usually encourage them to leave.
Maintaining an online presence can be rough, so why make it more difficult? If you don’t already have an SSL certificate on your website, get it!
6. Decide If Your Website Needs a Redesign
Remember that simpler is not only easier it is faster and cleaner. Every site can improve to some degree and a periodic redesign can translate into better function, faster operation, and more enjoyable experience for the visitor.
Ask yourself direct questions and specify problems objectively; it will only improve your website.
Does the website appear outdated? If it has been over five years since your last design change then chances are likely that your site will benefit from an update if not an overhaul.
Is your website mobile/device friendly? Many business executives have recently discovered they have missed a great many sales opportunities because they have not kept up with modern communications and hand-held devices, and next-generation software that allows more and wider communications. People today have a shorter attention span and less tolerance for inconveniences.
Is the website easy to navigate? With refinement comes user-friendly operation. You may want to ask others for their opinion or just review what some of your competitors are doing that you like.
Do you have a high bounce rate or low amount of traffic? It hurts to find out, but the sooner you determine why people are leaving your pages or not landing on them at all the sooner you can take corrective action.
Are your sales low, the phone isn’t ringing, or online forms aren’t generating leads? This is a tell-tale sign that things need to be corrected right away. Visit the Golden Oak Web Design WordPress Web Design Service page for more information about redesigning a website.
7. Update Your Online Marketing Plan
Are you using an inbound marketing strategy, and if so, are the results improving? It can be hard to adjust to marketing your website but when you find out how your customers like to be made aware of your products and services, and how to generate enough interest for customers to decide to take action, then you will have the winning combination to always have a pipeline of sales opportunities.
Are you linking to and from your social media websites? Sites like LinkedIn and Facebook have helped many small to medium-sized businesses improve their traffic just by providing links to their websites from these two large, powerful networks. Make sure your company’s profiles are optimized for superior results.
Can you find yourself in the search engines? If not, employ the services of a trusted digital marketing service like J Howard Company that specializes in online marketing. Once your site is optimized and your marketing plan is implemented your website will continually rank higher in search results for keyword phrases your clients are looking for.
Do you have a person in-house dedicated to managing your online marketing with such items as blogs, newsletters, frequently asked questions (and the answers) and other educational and informative wisdom and examples? If you don’t, you can always outsource these and other functions to an online marketing firm for less than hiring a person in-house full time.
Start a blog if you haven’t. It is the single, most proactive thing you can do and will also help develop and clarify ideas for solutions that your customers want answers to, and will refer to for years. Be the “answer man,” so to speak. Think in terms of how-to, and you will always have an audience.
Final Thoughts: Performing a WordPress Website Audit Is Good Business Practice
Performing a website audit regularly or annually is important because it’s crucial to measure your site’s performance so that you can continue improving it.
Small websites can see big improvements by doing the simple things correctly. Businesses in more competitive industries obviously require extra effort auditing and improving their sites, but also need to take care of the simpler things.
A website audit works to your advantage; traffic and page rankings will increase and improve and will ultimately gain attention, interest, and customers. It helps strengthen and support weaker pages, expose vulnerabilities of your website, and can make all the difference in your online business marketing.
Ready to Get Started?
As business moves forward we need forward-thinking people to rely on. Golden Oak Web Design is your partner for moving ahead and into the future with sustainable design and technologically advanced skills and knowledge that will only benefit your business.
Golden Oak Web Design has over 10 years of experience with web design, web development, programming, website maintenance, and security, and provides the edge you need in today’s evolving online business world.
Complete the form below or call 602-633-4758 to get started with a free WordPress website audit.