How to Perform a Website Technical Audit

A website technical audit is an essential process that helps you identify and fix any issues that could be affecting your site's performance, search engine rankings, and user experience. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the necessary steps to conduct a successful website technical audit.

Crawl Your Website

The first step in performing a website technical audit is to crawl your site. Crawling is the process of examining all the pages, links, and content on your website to ensure search engines can index and understand your site correctly. 

You can use tools like Screaming Frog, Sitebulb, or DeepCrawl to accomplish this. These tools will provide you with a wealth of information about your site, including broken links, duplicate content, and redirect issues.

Alternatively, you can also manually crawl your website. However, this process could take many hours, depending on the size of your site—and how handy you are with Excel.

Check Your Site's Indexability

It's vital to ensure that search engines can index your website. To do this, check your site's robots.txt file, which provides instructions to search engines on which pages should and should not be crawled. Also, verify that no critical pages are blocked using the "noindex" meta tag. 

Finally, go to the homepage of your website. Copy the URL exactly “as is” and then paste it into the search box. If your site is indexed in Google, it will show up as the #1 result when your Google your URL. 

If your site isn’t showing up, you probably have underlying problems ranging from being blacklisted from Google (for spam or other transgressions) to having a relatively new website that Google has yet to index.

Analyze Your Site's URL Structure

A clean and logical URL structure is essential for users and search engines. Analyze your site's URL structure to ensure that it follows best practices, such as:

  • Keeping URLs short and descriptive
  • Using hyphens to separate words
  • Avoiding the use of special characters and uppercase letters
  • Implementing a consistent URL structure across the site

If you’re using WordPress as your content management system (CMS), there’s an excellent chance that your site URL structure is good. WordPress tends to handle and create good, clean URLs.

Inspect Your Site's On-Page SEO Elements

On-page SEO elements play a crucial role in how search engines understand and rank your content. Be sure to examine the following:

  • Title tags: Ensure that your title tags are unique, descriptive, and within the recommended character limit of 60-70 characters.
  • Meta descriptions: Check that your meta descriptions are concise, compelling, and within the suggested character limit of 155-160 characters.
  • Header tags: Verify that your header tags (H1, H2, H3, etc.) are used correctly to provide a clear content hierarchy.

Check for Duplicate Content

Duplicate content can lead to confusion for search engines and dilute your site's SEO value. Use tools like Copyscape to scan your site for duplicate content and address any issues you find.

If you have blog posts or pages on your website of unknown origin (meaning you have no idea who wrote them), consider taking 1-2 sentences and popping them into Google. If you find an exact match, it’s a sign that you should look at the content a bit closer to ensure it’s original and not copied.

Assess Site Speed and Performance

A slow-loading website can significantly impact user experience and search engine rankings. Use tools like Google's PageSpeed Insights or GTmetrix to analyze your site's performance and identify opportunities for improvement. Focus on optimizing:

  • Image sizes and formats
  • CSS and JavaScript files
  • Caching and server response times

However, there are diminishing returns when it comes to fixing your website for speed and performance. For example, it’s often not economically feasible to fix every single thing that GTmetrix or Google's PageSpeed Insights finds. The cost for a coder to do so would be very high.

This is why it’s important to first focus on the most egregious issues, such as image sizes and certain files that could be causing the site to run slow. Anything after that is icing on the cake.

Evaluate Mobile Responsiveness

With the ever-increasing prevalence of mobile devices, ensuring your website is mobile-friendly is crucial. Use Google's Mobile-Friendly Test tool to assess your site's responsiveness and address any issues it identifies.

Inspect Internal and External Links

Broken links can negatively impact user experience and SEO. Check your site for broken internal and external links and fix them as needed. You can use tools like Screaming Frog or Broken Link Checker to help with this.

Sometimes a website you linked to a few years ago will go dead—and then a bad actor will come along and purchase it. They will then turn it into a spam website that promotes gambling, pharmaceuticals, or other “spammy” content. 

The fact that you’re inadvertently linking out to it can cause Google to apply a penalty to your website. This is why an internal link audit is so important.

Analyze Your Site's XML Sitemap

An XML sitemap helps search engines understand your site's structure and discover new content. Ensure your sitemap is up-to-date, error-free, and submitted to Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools.

Review Your Site's Security

Website security is essential for protecting your users' information and maintaining trust with search engines. There are several steps to accomplish this, including:

  • Verifying that your site is using HTTPS
  • Regularly updating software and plugins (e.g., WordPress)
  • Protect against SQL injections and cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks
  • Securing your login pages
  • Backing up your website
  • Securing your server

While the above is not a comprehensive list of how to secure your website, it’s a good start for the average DIY webmaster. If you’re really concerned about site security, consider hiring a website security consultant to go over your site with a fine-toothed comb.

Let Witmer Group Help Audit Your Website

Auditing your website is essential to ensuring trust in your visitors and search engines. Witmer Group can help you with your website audit by diving deep into your website and creating a turnkey report with actionable steps.

Click HERE to use our free tool to grade and evaluate your website.