Every firm has a website, but you might forget about yours unless there's a problem. It's like the tires on your car: you may forget they need replacing after a while until you find yourself with a flat. Don't get caught with a broken site when you need it most. Talk to your in-house or consulting IT manager and consider conducting periodic website audits. Below is a summary of the major categories you should review
- Essential Website Audit Components
- Domain and Hosting. Assess the key domain and hosting information essential to maintaining website rankings. Examine items such as domain age, domain expiration, load time and public registration listings. Google has stated that the older the domain the more authority (and thus higher rank) it will receive. It also assesses how long the domain is registered to understand how long the owner intends to keep the site active. Finally, remember Google is all about the user experience so the site load time must be within industry standards (less than 3 seconds).
- Website Structure Analysis. Examine how the site is designed and operating. Items such as SEO-friendly URL structure, robots.txt, sitemap.xml, social media sharing options, and calls to action are examined. Basic SEO tools such as the ability to edit the URL to include keyword-friendly terms is a best practice, but it is functionality that is not available through all content management systems (CMS). Root files such as robots.txt tell search engines where they may go to index new pages and the sitemap.xml file provides supporting information including when a page was added and its importance on the website.
- Design Analysis. This section of an audit looks at how the site is designed and whether improvements can be made to positively affect SEO and ranking: consistent implementation of site template, spelling or grammatical errors in content, readability and quality. Give attention to the navigation structure and consider how easy it is for visitors to find important information such as office locations, contact information, and thought leadership. As the quality of the user experience increases, so does your site’s ranking in Google. In fact, Google has stated in several places that user experience is almost as important as well-thought-through SEO implementation.
- On-Page Optimization. This section covers what most accounting marketers would classify as SEO activities. Assess Items such as heading, title, description, and keyword tags for consistency with the site’s keyword strategy. Other elements such as alt img tags and a robust internal linking strategy should also be reviewed. Remember that meta tag optimization is the foundation of any SEO strategy. If this information is incorrect or simply improperly applied it can have a disastrous impact on your site’s ranking.
- Sharpening Your Tools
If you don’t already have a Google or Bing Webmaster Tools account then please sign up immediately. They provide invaluable information about the condition of your website and what (if any) errors the search engines are “seeing” on your site. This can be invaluable source of information should your site suddenly start losing rank for no apparent reason. Beyond this, you can assess the components listed above through free or subscription-based tools. Hubspot offers a suite of free tools useful in for a website audit, while the subscription based software at Raven SEO Tools or Moz is an excellent option for those who have the budget.
- Next Steps
Maintaining the health and performance of your website is an essential marketing responsibility for marketers. The key is to have a schedule for when the audits will be conducted and to be sure to follow it. The last thing you want is for a preventable issue to become critical because there was “no time” to conduct an audit.
About the author:
Stephanie Chapa is the Marketing Coordinator for Wiebe Hinton Hambalek, LLP in Fresno, CA and is responsible for the firm’s digital and content marketing efforts. She is well versed in Search Engine Optimization, content marketing and inbound marketing strategies. Stephanie has successfully implemented SEO strategies for many organizations attracting new opportunities and driving bottom line value. She can be reached at 559-431-8334 or firstname.lastname@example.org