Every website needs to have a health check from time to time. A Website Review is a must for every small business.
How long has it been since you had a really good look through your website? Not just at the pages, but at the detail. The things that make it tick. All the nuts and bolts that make it rank, or not, in Google Search. All the things that convert traffic into leads and customers. The guts of what generates success online. This is called a Website Audit or a Website Review.
All website owner should do this every year. (the only exception to this rule is if you are employing an outside agency to manage your online presence, including your website. In this case they will be performing constant monitoring).
There are some dangerous misconceptions in the Start-up and SME sectors. “I payed a lot of money 5 years ago for a website. I shouldn’t have to do anything else.” I have heard this so many times, and I can understand the frustration, but that isn’t how it works.
It’s hard to quantify how much has changed in the past 5 years. A website that was top of the range then, is as good as obsolete now, if it has had no work done on it in the mean time.
Not all small business owners are web developers or online marketers. It’s good practice to check things out with an expert from time to time. Your website, and your social media profiles, need to keep up with current trends, developments in the industry and best practices.
If you don’t, you can be sure that your competition do. And they are taking business away from you every day.
"Just because something doesn't do what you planned it to do doesn't mean it's useless."
What is a Website Review?
A thorough Website Audit, or Website Review, must analyze a number of factors. And there are a few things that we like to include that most would not. They may charge extra for some of these services. It could be better described as a Review of Your Online Presence.
Our Website Audit is aimed at small, mostly local businesses, primarily in the construction sector. Builders, decorators, carpenters etc. E-Commerce websites (if you are selling a product directly through your website) may need a different type of online review. It is also focused on websites using WordPress.
Do I need a Website Review?
If you have had no outside input from a professional SEO, Web Designer or Digital Marketer in the past 12-18 months then the answer is definitely… YES.
Next, I would like to explain what the ingredients of a our Website Audit are and a little about why they are included. You can learn these techniques over time and one day perform your own review, but that will take you a number of years.
SEO / Content Review
Search Engine Optimization is both an art and a skill. There are technical aspects as well as creative aspects. If you are a new business weighing up the pro’s and con’s of SEO vs PPC, read this post. There are 4 broad SEO questions to answer during every Website Audit;
Before any online project, for any business, you must have a goal. Not just, ” every business has a website, I should have one to.” This goal can be a very simple one. These are just some examples;
- Advertise my services | Customers contact via phone or email
- Promote a software product | Offer website visitors a free 30 day trial
- Generate high volumes of traffic | Sell advertising slots on the website
A way to accurately measure what you have accomplished is also essential. The first example; 10 extra emails and 5 extra phone call per week. Set this as a target and set up website tracking to asses whether you have met these goals.
Next, think about who your customer are. Are they men or women, or both? What age groups are they in? Which economic and demographic groups do they fit into? What other interests do they have; what do they read? are they mostly on mobile or desktop? what are their hobbies and interests?
Ask yourself questions about your website or how it has performed so far. Are you happy with the amount of traffic it gets? The amount of leads it’s generates. Do you feel that it is a Good Return on Investment (ROI).
Being confident of the answers to these questions is essential before a Website Audit can be carried out effectively.
Technical Website Audit
A technical audits looks mostly at errors, in both coding a configuration. There are 4 areas to focus on;
Using Google Search Console run fetch and render tests on all of your pages. Make sure to set the crawl to “Smartphone.” This will Identify any visual or usability issues you might have with your site on mobile. Next, do a page speed test on every page using Google Page Speed Insights. Finally perform a site-wide Mobile Friendliness Test to see how Google views your site’s performance on mobile. (read this post about B2B Mobile Usability).
Security & HTTPS
In the past you would only need an SSL Certificate, making your site secure, if you were requesting and storing sensitive data, an eCommerce website for example. Today, everyone must have a secure website. Google penalizes HTTP websites in the search results. Check that all URLs, every page that Google has in their index, are HTTPS and that the HTTP versions 301 redirect to HTTPS. (use site:yourwebsite.com to view your indexed pages). Check out the SSL Certificate Wizard, answer a few questions and they’ll tell you what you need.
The Accelerated Mobile Pages Project, or AMP, is Google’s attempt to make the internet faster. They have already moved to Mobile First Indexing and what seems to be next on the agenda is AMP. Use the Google AMP Test to make sue that at least your blog posts have AMP versions and identify any issues you might have with them. Also use Fetch and Render in Google Search Console for visual discrepancies.
Google looks at errors on your site and may penalize you if they find too many. A 404 Error means that a page can’t be found, but also means that it did exist at a certain point in time. For example, you many have changed the URL of a particular page. Identify these using the crawl error tab in Google Search Console. Every website must have a sitemap, containing all the pages you would like Google to index. A robot txt. file tells Google what, and what not to crawl and index. Both of these must be configured correctly.
Keyword Research & Competitor Analysis
Your keywords are the most important part of your website. There are a number of factors to consider;
- Target Keywords
- Your Pages without Target Keywords
- Your Competitor’s Target Keywords
- New keywords to target (new locations, new services)
In our Website Audit we provide a starter Keyword Map. This will help you design a program of work after your review is complete. It is pre-populated with keywords/no content, content/no keywords, potential competitor target keywords and our own keyword suggestions. To learn more about keywords take a look at this post. It will look like this;
At the beginning of your SEO campaign some of the keyword slots will be empty and some of the URL slots will also be empty. Over time, as each keyword target is ticked off with posts and pages you will fill up the map.
Basic SEO Checklist
Every page on your website should be optimized for a set of keywords or searcher intent. These are just some of the basic optimizations that every page needs;
These are just the basics, and some of them have very little SEO value these days, but they are best practice. SEO is about much more in 2018 than it was in 2004. Cyrus Sheppard recently put together one of the most comprehensive breakdowns of Google Ranking Factors, check it out. This post, Think Like a Blogger, is also very helpful.
Studies show that nearly 30% of all Google Search results have featured snippets.
The graph above, compiled by Moz shows the rise of Featured Snippets during 2015 and 2016. Featured Snippets appear at the top of a Google Search Results Page and attempt to answer the question of the user. They come in the form of an Answer Box, and List or a table.
Webmaster have an opportunity to secure this position, often referred to as “Position Zero,” by targeting relevant search terms and optimizing their pages. We analyze your Featured Snippet effectiveness and opportunities.
Blog Post Analysis
Included in our Website Audit is an extra bit of help for your future blog posts. We take 1 of your existing posts and redesign it to the specification outlined above. We optimize it for a target keyword, configure the layout, add or remove images and create CTA (Call to Action – the next step you want the web visitor to take. Often linking to Contact Page).
This is your template for future posts and the process for optimizing the rest of your site.
Navigation, Contact Page & Lead Generation
You may have the best content on the web, but if your potential customers cannot find it all your hard work has been for nothing.
Your Navigation (header menu), internal link structure, sidebar and especially your lead generation, i.e. Contact Page all must be correctly configured.
Your social media accounts would not ordinarily fall under a Website Audit or Content Strategy Review. Having said that social media is a vital element of your online presence, so we carry out a basic analysis of your social activity to provide a full marketing picture.
We look at how you link to social media from your website and also how you promote blog posts etc. on social Media.
There are 100’s of different platforms but there are only a small number where every business must have a presence. We look at quality of posts, profile set-up and engagement for Facebook, Twitter and Google+. We may also look at other platform including Instagram, depending on the industry.
It's Your Website… Take Control.
Before you can fix the problems you have with your website you must first identify what they are. You have to ask yourself some hard questions. You must be honest with yourself about how you are performing online.
It is our view at Online Trade Marketing that, in 2018, tradespeople especially, should have no need to to do any offline marketing. A well designed and maintained website, optimized for generated leads and 2-3 active social media accounts offer your best chance of success.
This approach also offers scale that you control. You may be adding a new staff member or targeting a new geographical location. All growth strategies can be implemented perfectly using Google Search, SEO and social media targeting.