Seventy percent of U.S. households now use the internet when shopping locally for products and services.
Do they find your business in their search results?
If you have a well-designed and mobile-responsive website, you probably assume they do.
But that’s not always the case. Your site may appear on Page 4 or 5 of search results, where few potential customers are likely to find it.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
With a comprehensive, in-depth website audit, you can find – and resolve — key problem areas that affect where your website shows up in search results, as well as issues that result in a poor user experience.
Here are five things you can learn through a website audit.
1. It reveals if there are parts of your website that search engines can’t see.
Search engines have to know what’s on your website before they can know when to serve it in search results.
They do this by “crawling” websites with a type of software called a bot. Bots travel across all accessible webpages to assess each page’s information.
Once a bot crawls a webpage, it indexes the page so the search engine can serve the website up in response to relevant queries.
However, a number of issues can prevent a bot being able to see and, therefore, index your page. A comprehensive web audit shows these issues, which can include:
- Page errors that occur when there are problems with the code on your page or the hosting server.
- Pages marked with a “noindex” tag, which tells bots not to look at a website or webpage, so the page and its content won’t display in search results.
- Whether or not your site has been hacked to host malicious content, such as a phishing site designed to trick users into sharing personal information. This is more common than you might realize!
Each of these problem areas affects the visibility of your website in search results.
2. A website audit shows if there is missing information on your site.
According to one study, about 30% of all websites for small businesses have incomplete information. Missing information on a website can include:
- A page title and meta descriptions. These provide searchers with a brief summary of the content on the webpage.
- A duplicate page title or meta description. This confuses website visitors, as well as the bot trying to understand your page. In fact, search engines may ignore any pages with similar titles and descriptions.
- Any pages that are missing the tracking code for Google Analytics.
- Any page titles that are too short or too long. Page titles should be between 10 to 70 characters, and meta descriptions should be no more than 300 characters.
Without clear and complete information, search engines won’t know how to categorize the content on your website, and your business won’t be included in results for relevant search queries.
Additionally, problems with page titles and meta descriptions will likely decrease the number of people who click through to your website because they won’t see relevant information in your website’s listing.
3. It exposes any content that needs improvement.
Content issues typically fall into two categories: low word count and duplicate content.
Pages of your website with a low word count often have fewer than 250 words. This short amount of copy doesn’t provide enough context for search engines to understand what’s on the webpage and what search queries it answers.
On the other hand, webpages with duplicate content may contain a lot of information, but that copy either matches or is extremely similar to content found on other websites.
An audit reveals which pages on your website have these issues so you can develop more detailed, comprehensive content that allows search engines to best understand the page and what search queries it will answer.
For example, one pool business expanded its content by writing in-depth copy that addressed pricing and other common questions people have about its services. It paid off big time, leading this business to generate the most amount of traffic of any pool website in the world.
4. A website audit reports any problems with links.
A lot can go wrong with links on your website that connect to outside websites, usually referred to as “external links,” as well as the links on your site that connect to other webpages on your site, or internal links.
Here are some of the top link problems an audit reveals:
- Broken internal or external links. Too many broken links can trigger a low-quality site signal to a search engine’s algorithm, resulting in poor search result performance. Broken links also create a poor user experience by creating dead ends for visitors to your site.
- Internal or external links that are missing anchor or ALT text, which helps search engines better understand the context of the page you’re linking to.
- Internal links using a No-Follow tag, which tells search engines, “I can’t or don’t want to vouch for the quality of this link.” A No-Follow tag could result in search engines not trusting parts of your website, and trust is a must-have for good search performance.
A website audit makes it easy to find link issues across your entire website so you can ensure quality, well-maintained links, which leads to a good user experience and better search results.
5. It shows any problems with images.
A commonly overlooked issue on websites occurs with images; specifically, images that are missing the ALT text or title text for the images on the site.
This text is extremely important because it provides search engines with useful information about the subject matter of an image. When a search engine knows that, it can determine whether or not an image would be helpful in query results.
An audit also can point out if any images are broken, which means they’ve been corrupted or no longer exist online. Like broken links, too many broken images can trigger a low-quality warning for search engines.
Most websites have dozens – or even hundreds – of images. An audit provides an easy way to spot any problems with these images.
How healthy is your website?
Each issue revealed in a website audit can have a substantial impact on where your website shows up in search results.
Equally important, it affects what customers think of your website.
An audit may sound intimidating, but it can pave the pathway to success for your business.
Without it, your business may remain deep within search results, where few people will find it.