How to conduct a website audit (+ 5 checklists)
In today’s economic climate, maximizing the return on your digital marketing investments has become more important than ever before. A website audit helps you to accomplish just that by ensuring you are extracting the greatest possible value from existing assets and resources while also supporting you in delivering an exceptional user experience.
In this blog, we cover four different types of website audits and describe how they can help make every element of your online presence count. We’ve provided checklists for each different website audit to help you get started on conducting your own. At the end of the blog, you’ll find a list of useful website audit tools, as well as a checklist for completing your own website audits.
Website audits evaluate specific aspects of your website to provide a detailed understanding of its strengths and weaknesses.
Different types of audit focus on specific areas to provide in-depth insights and actionable recommendations for improvement.
Website audits are not one-and-done; they are an ongoing process to create a more engaging, accessible and successful online platform.
What is a website audit?
A website audit is a comprehensive evaluation of a specific element of your website. These audits can take several forms, from an in-depth look at technical performance to an objective appraisal of the content your website has to offer visitors. No matter which area you choose to investigate, the goal is always the same: to identify strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for improvement and address issues that negatively impact your website’s ability to deliver a return on your investment.
A thorough website audit will yield findings you can use to improve your website’s overall performance, user experience and search engine visibility. If you’re looking to create a roadmap for addressing issues and enhancing your website’s effectiveness, an audit is an excellent place to start.
Why is a website audit important?
Your organization has likely invested significantly in establishing its online presence. Design, development, content creation and marketing resources have all played a role in getting your website where it is today. A website audit gives you the assurance that these investments are paying off by identifying what’s working well and what could be improved. Actioning these findings is essential for fine-tuning your digital marketing, product and design/UX strategies to achieve the best results.
It’s not always clear what key ingredient your website is missing or what technical issues may be looming on the horizon. An in-depth review of your website will help you to uncover bugs and glitches, identify content gaps, and spot usability problems that make people less likely to return to your site after their first visit.
Perhaps most importantly, a website audit enables you to make informed decisions based on data-backed insights into how users are really interacting with your website. The understanding this provides is a huge advantage when it comes to prioritizing improvements that lead to high-impact results on things like user retention and conversion rates.
Types of website audits
Just as there are various aspects that contribute to the overall performance and effectiveness of your website, there are also multiple types of audits, with each focusing on a specific area. Below are a few common types, along with handy checklists to get you started.
1. Performance and speed website audit
Performance and speed website audits are all about measuring the raw speed, responsiveness and technical health of your website. They’re useful for identifying issues that may negatively affect your website’s loading times, user experience and overall efficiency. The insights derived from a performance audit can be used to reveal bottlenecks, help optimize loading speeds and ensure your website visitors have a smooth, fast experience.
Performance and speed website audit checklist
✔️ Page load times are acceptable across various devices and network conditions.
✔️ Servers have acceptable response times and manage incoming requests effectively.
✔️ Caching and compression techniques are used to reduce load times for returning visitors.
✔️ Images and other media have been properly compressed, resized and optimized for web display.
✔️ Third-party scripts such as analytics tools or social media widgets are not impacting performance.
✔️ The website performs well across different web browsers.
✔️ The website displays its first contentful paint (FCP) and largest contentful paint (LCP) within a reasonable time frame.
✔️ Content delivery networks (CDN) are being used appropriately to serve website content to users with reduced latency and load times.
2. Design/user experience (UX) website audit
A design/UX website audit checks the visual design, layout and navigation of your website to evaluate the overall user experience. This type of audit will show you where your website’s design and user interface could be improved to enhance usability, engagement and satisfaction for your visitors. The findings from a design/UX website audit will help you ensure your website aligns with customer expectations, as well as web design best practices.
Design/UX website audit checklist
✔️ The color scheme, typography and visual elements of your website are consistent, appealing and aligned with your brand identity.
✔️ Content is well organized, key elements are placed prominently and there is a good balance of text and imagery.
✔️ Navigation menus and categories make it easy for visitors to find the information they’re looking for.
✔️ Your website adapts well to different screen sizes, including on smartphones and tablets.
✔️ Whitespace and visual hierarchy are used to guide users’ attention effectively.
✔️ CTAs are visible, placed prominently and worded effectively.
✔️ Analyze how visitors navigate and interact with your website to find common flows and obstacles.
✔️ All forms are easy to complete and submit.
3. Conversion rate optimization website audit
Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is the process of improving a website or app to increase the number of visitors that perform an action resulting in a conversion. CRO website audits overlap slightly with other types of audits, as they include a review of your website’s design, content and user experience. The difference is that a CRO audit focuses on how effective these elements are at increasing the percentage of people who take desired actions. This could be making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, filling out a form or engaging with specific website content. The goal of a CRO website audit is to identify barriers in the conversion process and identify opportunities for enhancing your website’s ability to convert visitors into customers or leads.
Conversion rate optimization website audit checklist
✔️ The design, placement, wording and visibility of CTAs throughout your website are effective.
✔️ All forms are well-designed, appropriate in length and easy to complete.
✔️ Website content is relevant, aligns with customer expectations and supports intended conversion goals.
✔️ Trust signals, including testimonials, reviews and security accreditation, are present.
✔️ The overall user experience, including navigation, readability, load times and mobile responsiveness, does not negatively impact conversion rates.
✔️ A conversion funnel analysis has been completed to identify drop-off points where visitors abandon the conversion process.
✔️ Landing pages are consistent with the ad or link that brought visitors there.
✔️ The implementation of exit intent strategies (e.g., pop-ups or offers) is effective in retaining visitors and encouraging conversions.
4. Search engine optimization website audit
A search engine optimization (SEO) website audit reviews all of the factors that contribute to your website’s search engine visibility, organic traffic potential and compliance with SEO best practices. Completing an SEO website audit will provide you with insights that help you increase your online visibility and attract visitors through organic, non-paid methods.
SEO website audit checklist
✔️ Your website content uses keywords that are relevant, competitive and targeted.
✔️ Your website’s content provides value and is high-quality, unique and relevant to the needs of your target audience.
✔️ Content tags such as meta titles, meta descriptions, headings, keywords and internal links are implemented.
✔️ Broken links are removed from your website.
✔️ Your website’s architecture, URL structure, speed, mobile responsiveness, crawlability and XML sitemaps are well implemented.
✔️ Your website’s backlink profile is high-quality, diverse, and consists of relevant incoming links. Potentially harmful or low-quality links have been removed.
✔️ Load times and performance are not negatively impacting user experience or search rankings.
✔️ Schema markup has been implemented where appropriate to ensure all opportunities for rich snippets in search engine results are capitalized on.
✔️ Set up a tracking tool, so you know what’s going on with your website. This will give you data on keywords, traffic sources and entrance and exit pages.
The benefits of a website audit
A website audit is an excellent way to ensure you’re getting the most out of the investments you’ve already made in your website. By acting on audit findings, you can make tweaks, refinements and optimizations to ensure your website is performing to the highest possible standard.
1. Compare how you stack up against competitors
Website audits aren’t just useful for measuring your own website’s performance. They’re also an effective means of judging how far along your competition is on their optimization journey. By applying many of the checks discussed in this guide to a competitor’s website, you can build a picture of their strengths and weaknesses—and, crucially, spot key gaps in the market where you can begin to differentiate yourself.
2. Improve user experience
A user-friendly and intuitive website is essential for keeping your customers engaged. A website audit helps you identify usability issues, navigation challenges and design inconsistencies that create a negative impact on the user experience. Addressing these issues provides a more enjoyable user journey that is more likely to earn return visits and drive up conversions.
3. Detect issues early on
Regular website audits will ensure you keep your finger on the pulse of any emerging technical issues, enabling you to address them before they escalate. Proactively resolving glitches, broken links and other problems helps you stay on top of costly downtime and avoid fostering negative perceptions among your customers.
4. Optimize site performance
No one wants to use a website that suffers from slow load times and poor performance. This doesn’t just impact customer satisfaction; it directly affects your website’s search engine ranking as well. Regular performance audits can help you pinpoint bottlenecks and optimize loading times for a faster website that keeps visitors engaged and reduces bounce rates.
5. Improve SEO
The world of search engine algorithms is an ever-changing one, necessitating regular reviews of how well your website conforms to current best practices. The SEO website audit checks described earlier in the post can help you keep abreast of changes in SEO standards and ensure your website remains visible to your target audience.
6. Optimize conversion rates
While your website is sure to have cultivated its own unique customer journeys and user pathways, there are also many well-established patterns that are known to encourage successful conversions. A regular CRO website audit will provide you with the much-needed assurance that your website adheres to best practices—and isn’t leaving any potential sales on the table.
Website audit tools and software
There are dozens of website audit tools and software out there. We’ve highlighted a few so you can see what’s right for you.
Lighthouse is an open-source tool that you can use to conduct audits for performance, accessibility, progressive web apps, SEO and more.
Screaming Frog provides an SEO Spider Tool that audits your website for common SEO issues. The basic version of their tool can download and crawl 500 URLs for free.
Catchpoint’s WebPageTest tool can help you audit your website for performance using metrics like Core Web Vitals (CWV). You can also compare your website’s visuals against competitors and run traceroute network performance diagnostics.
Vega is an open-source web security scanner that can help you find and validate SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS) and other security issues. This tool can also detect inadvertently disclosed sensitive information and other vulnerabilities.
Checkbot can carry out SEO, security and speed audits. These tests can help you ensure your website follows more than 50 best practices recommended by Google, Mozilla, W3C and other web experts.
Glassbox’s Web Performance Index
Glassbox’s Web Performance Index shows the web performance of leading companies across industries and global markets. These benchmarks give companies what they need to beat, outperform and outrank competitors.
Checklist: How to conduct a website audit in 6 steps
Assess website performance and speed
✔️ Use a performance audit tool to measure page load times on various devices.
✔️ Identify slow-loading pages and elements.
✔️ Prioritize optimizing large images and files for faster loading.
2. Identify technical errors
✔️ Use website crawling tools to scan for broken links, missing pages and other technical errors.
✔️ Check for 404 error pages and ensure proper redirects are in place.
✔️ Evaluate server response times and overall site uptime.
3. Check for SEO issues
✔️ Conduct keyword analysis to ensure proper keyword usage in content.
✔️ Review meta titles, meta descriptions and heading tags for optimization.
✔️ Analyze backlink profiles for quality and relevance.
4. Assess website content
✔️ Evaluate content quality and relevance to your target audience.
✔️ Check for duplicate content and pages that offer limited value.
✔️ Ensure content aligns with SEO goals and user intent.
5. Analyze website design and UX
✔️ Review design elements for consistency and branding.
✔️ Evaluate navigation menus and user pathways for ease of use.
✔️ Check mobile responsiveness and visual hierarchy.
6. Compile a list of all site issues and recommendations
✔️ Document all performance, technical, SEO, content and UX issues.
✔️ Provide actionable recommendations for each issue.
✔️ Prioritize recommendations based on impact and urgency.
As the digital and economic landscapes continue to evolve, regular website audits will ensure you comply with industry best practices and deliver an outstanding digital experience that resonates with customers. By taking the temperature of your website’s technical performance, content strategy and user experience, it’s possible to uncover opportunities to optimize, refine and elevate your online presence, building on what you’ve already established to achieve even better results.
Whether you’re aiming to enhance the responsiveness of your website, conquer SEO challenges or create a more user-friendly experience, the journey begins with a thorough website audit. If you’re looking to take the first step, try exploring Glassbox’s Website Performance Index, which is an easy and effective way to establish a more impactful online presence.