Every website design will need a health check from time to time. After years of adding new pages, links, content, images, and everything else, your site will tend to get a little unorganized. You can have broken images, links leading to nowhere, and content that is just outdated.
If you aren't ready to do a complete website design overhaul yet and just want to fix it up, you can check out these tips to audit your website.
(And if you are considering a major website design project, check out our ultimate guide on how to design a website for your business).
Most important goals of a website design audit
- Any broken external links that go to dead pages?
- Are there any duplicate title tags?
- Is each title tag relevant to the page that it's about, and only used for that page on your site?
- Is there any "keyword stuffing" that doesn't read naturally?
- Are there keywords in the H1 tags that are also relevant to what the page is about?
- Does the site have internal broken links?
- Is there internal duplicate content on the site?
- Has content been copied from other sites and duplicated on yours?
- Are there 404 errors (dead pages) anywhere?
Have website audits changed with Google algorithm updates?
With Google continuously updating its algorithms, your website needs to be continuously monitored and in good shape. The big G looks at your title tags (and even corrects them in their search results if you don't have one), H1 tags, and what your page is all about by reading the content.
They have very sophisticated systems that can figure out if you're keyword stuffing, writing unnaturally for the sake of search engines, and for the ease of readability of your content. Flesch Reading Ease and Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level are two suggested readability tools to use that can help mimic how Google would read and grade your website. Using a site like readability-score will give you a report that looks like this after you enter your text or URL.
Google also wants to crawl your website occasionally and find new and original content that is helpful to the readers. If your site is thin and lacks content, if it has content that never changes, or if you aren't adding any more content to your site, Google's crawler will make it harder for your site to increase in traffic and rankings.
Website design audit tip for beginners
This is a very simple way to check Google and see what pages of your site are indexed in their search engine. These are called advanced search operators and can only be used in Google.
Go to google.com and a site search for your domain. It will look like site:domain.com, with no spacing between. Google will return all the pages for that site that are indexed and found in Google - it looks something like this:
If you want, you can get a step further with it and do a site search along with your keywords. The results will show what Google determines as the most relevant page for those keywords. It will look something like site:domain.com "keyword". Put your keyword inside of quotes to find an exact match on your website design.
Do this for all of your main keywords to make sure that Google is finding the right page and that the keywords are in the content on the right pages.
Tools for performing site audits
- Screaming Frog (both free and paid)
- Netpeak Spider
- Xenu’s Link Sleuth
- Moz’s on-page grader (monthly subscription, but a 30-day free trial to start).
Download the free Screaming Frog SEO spider tool, which you can use on both a Mac and PC. Enter your site and as long as you have fewer than 500 pages it will bring back title tags, H1 and H2 tags, 404 pages, broken links, and a ton of other information about your site within a few minutes.
Internally, you want all pages to return a status code of 200, which means that all pages are up and running. Externally your links should all return a 200 status code as well, with some 301 redirects in there occasionally. The page titles tab allows you to easily look at all of your title tags in one glance, giving you the character length and pixel width.
Every column is sortable by clicking it, which makes it easy to identify any errors, issues or tags that are too long.
Netpeak Spider doesn’t have a page limit (as far as I know) and you can use proxies to speed up the process. Just like Screaming Frog you should get your results in a matter of minutes. If you have any glaring errors it will highlight that row in red, or there is an errors tab near the top. If you have any duplicate title, description or keyword tags than they will show on the right side.
Link Sleuth is another alternative similar to Netpeak Spider and Screaming Frog in finding broken links. If you're looking for the most features for a website audit then Screaming Frog is probably the way to go.
Moz offers a free 30-day trial when you sign up, and you can use their tools along with their on-page grader for all of your pages. After it is finished running, you will get a report that goes over all of the fixes you need for that page along with how to optimize it for the main keyword of that page.
You'll get an A-F grade, and you want to see green check marks to the left of everything to show that you have that page optimized for that keyword. If you need to change anything in the right column under "difficult," it will tell you if it is an easy or moderate fix and gives you information on what you need to do to fix it.
What to do when your website design audit is done
After completing the website design audit, you should have an optimized site with unique and relevant tags, no duplicate content sitewide, or any broken links on your website. Take the time to monitor your website to maintain it before things get out of hand. You should routinely check your site with Screaming Frog or another tool if you are continuously adding content to your site (as you should be), which will help to increase your traffic, rankings and help you to become a trusted authority in your niche.
If you need help auditing your website design let us know and we can give you a free website consultation. We've been helping Lancaster, Harrisburg, and York small businesses with website design and SEO for 20 years.