What is a Strategic Site Audit and How Can It Help Your Business?
Your mechanic audits your car.
Have you ever considered performing an audit of your website?
When your car has a problem, you check in with a specialist who investigates to understand the problem, proposes a cure, and follows up to make sure everything is working as expected.
When we use our cars daily, we monitor its working condition, whether we realize it or not. Sometimes we ignore problematic symptoms, and sometimes we act on them immediately.
If a small problem goes untreated for a long time, it can turn into a serious issue later on.
Which is why we have regular checkups with our car mechanic.
It’s the same with your website.
When you first put it up, it might have been performing exactly as planned. But over time, if you haven’t been monitoring it closely and tracking whether it is performing as it should, there may be some cracks appearing that you don’t notice.
If these cracks remain unattended for too long, they might cause serious problems over time.
This is why you should do a regular site audit to make sure that everything is in order and you are getting the best return on your investment.
A strategic site audit is a deep dive into the content of your website to determine where there are problems that need to be addressed, where there are improvements that can be made, and where there are gaps to be filled.
Think of it as a tune-up for your business’s engine.
How does a strategic site audit work?
To perform a site audit, you take an approach similar to what happens when you go see your mechanic. If this is a regular checkup, you make adjustments to the oil, the filters, the tires, and so one. These types of appointments are relatively quick since they happen so often that there isn’t a significant difference from the previous visit, barring exceptional situations.
That said, even with regular maintenance, car manufacturers recommend that every so often, you go through a more thorough checkup to look at the brakes, the engine, the fuel lines, the oil lines, and so on. These take a bit longer, but they can help identify concerns before they become a problem.
The problems show up when you go to your mechanic and tell her, “my car is making some really weird noises,” or “it doesn’t brake as well as it used to,” or “there’s a funny smell in the car, and it gives me a headache.”
Your mechanic will ask questions to gain a good understanding of the symptoms. She will investigate and try to determine the cause of the problem. Once she’s identified the cause, she will propose repairs and ask what you want to do. If there are multiple reasons for your car’s problem, and you don’t want to fix them all immediately, she will ask you to prioritize. She will also tell you what she thinks you should fix first.
You’ve guessed it. You should follow a similar process when dealing with your website.
If you perform a regular review of your website, such as quarterly or—at the most—yearly, it should only require relatively minor adjustments every time. However, if you’ve never performed a site audit, you may not even know that there are problems.
The audit will unearth this.
The first thing to do is to make a list of the symptoms of the problem, then address them one at a time.
Symptoms of a problematic website usually fall into four categories:
- Lack of traffic: This may indicate that search engines do not find your site. It can be because you offer a product that users are not looking for, in which case you may have to rethink the business as a whole. But most of the time, it’s because the site is set up in a way that search engines do not like. And when I say search engines, I really mean Google, since they own the majority of search requests for now.
- Few leads: You may be getting traffic, but people are leaving the site immediately, or they stick around for a bit, leave, and never come back.
- Low sales: You have traffic, you have repeat visitors, but nobody buys anything or at least, the sales you were expecting are just not working out as you planned.
- Low retention: You have traffic, visitors are coming back, you’re even getting decent sales, but once somebody has bought something on your site, they never buy again, or they become inactive.
A full site audit and review will identify these types of issues and will propose solutions to solve them.
What type of issues does a strategic site audit address?
A professional strategic site audit will answer questions and propose solutions for each of the different types of issues mentioned above.
- Lack of traffic: Do you have the appropriate keywords (TK) throughout your site, especially on the landing page (the first page that visitors see)? When users search, they use specific terms to locate the information they want. As they get closer to the answer they are looking for, they use more specific keywords in their searches. If your website doesn’t contain the terms that searchers are using, you won’t show up on Google results, and no traffic will come to your site. You can fix this by analyzing the keywords on your website, the keywords that your clients would use, and tailoring your content to those keywords.
- Few leads: There can be multiple causes for this. What is the appearance of your website? Is it pleasing to the eye? Is it garish? Is it confusing? We say not to judge a book by its cover, but let’s be real: everybody judges a book by the cover. When you’re browsing a bookstore shelf, you tend to look at the books with the nicer covers or the more intriguing titles first. Unless you know exactly what you’re looking for. It’s the same thing for web visitors. If they don’t know what they’re looking for, they’ll stick to the sites that are more pleasing and have content that keeps them around. Provide them with both.
- Low sales: Are you trying to sell? I don’t mean whether you’re trying to sell directly by making a long pitch, although that certainly works. Other than a payment page, are you using other tactics that sell your product or services? If you aren’t, visitors to your website won’t buy. To complete a sale, you need to make sure that you’re attracting the right kind of buyers, that you’re responding to the needs of that buyer, and that you’re making it easy for them to buy from you. A site review will tell you if that is the case and provide options to address the issue otherwise.
- Low retention: A sale isn’t just a sale. It’s the beginning of a relationship. For a relationship to remain, it must be rekindled regularly. Once a client has bought from you, what information can you provide them to make the best use of the product or service they just bought? If you’re selling training services, for example, after the training, are you providing regular updates or tips to the trainees? It helps with retention, it provides value to the trainee, but it also keeps you top of mind. If they need other services that you offer, they will come to you first instead of going to a competitor. With a strategic site audit, you can unearth some of these opportunities.
A strategic site audit is a report on the state of your website, a list of the elements that can be improved, and recommendations. As with any report, you choose what is applicable and when you want to implement the recommendations.
What should be your next steps to improve the performance of your website?
Take an in-depth look at your website.
What’s working, what isn’t?
Prioritize the work that needs to be done. The more issues you find with the website, the more work you have to do to bring it to the level you want.
However, you can get great results by fixing two or three initial problems. Those are the low hanging fruit and the ones that will give you the biggest bang for your buck.
It’s the 80/20 rule applied to your website: 80% of your results will come from 20% of the work you do. So focus on that first.
Once you’ve made the changes, make sure to monitor regularly to see what impact the changes have had.
Then, rinse and repeat.
The first time you perform this site review, it will be longer and more painful. However, if you do it regularly, it will never become as hard, and your website will perform just like a well-tuned engine.
Do you need help to conduct a site audit? Contact me so we can discuss it.