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7-Step Website Audit Checklist For 2021 – Optimise Your Site In Just A Few Minutes

If you are running a website, then there is no doubt that it will need to be audited at some point. This audit checklist for 2021 covers everything from your site’s content and SEO to the site’s design and social media.

If you are looking for an easy way to stay on top of your website’s important aspects, this 7-step checklist can help.

Let’s get to work.

A simple website audit checklist

  1. Check the design of your website
  2. Check and optimise the content on your website
  3. Check and improve the page speed of your website
  4. Check and improve the on-page SEO of your website
  5. Check and improve the off-page SEO of your website
  6. Keep tabs on your incoming traffic
  7. Keep tabs on your competitor
  8. Secret Tip#1
  9. Secret Tip #2

Now, I could make a checklist for everything in this world if I wanted to, but do we really want that? A long list of things not getting done because there’s never enough time or energy left over at the end of the day ー sound about right?

My checklist is designed so that beginners, small business owners or experienced developers can improve upon their websites.

Step 1: Check the design of your website

As we all know, our website is the face of what you do and how your customers will react to it. A lot can happen when a customer first comes in contact with us via their computer or mobile device screen, whether they are shopping for products online or looking up company information such as an address.

I want you to start looking at your site from a customer’s perspective, not with the business-driven mindset that we’re all too familiar with.

“Why? Google Doesn’t care about how my website looks!”

True, but the potential customers that will be visiting does. Google is smart, and it is tracking to see if the visitors got what they needed when they visit your website. If they don’t, guess what happens? Your ranking goes down.

So, let’s give your visitors an experience they will never forget and convert them into paying customers.

Tip #1 – Check if your website is mobile-friendly

Search Engine Land, a reputed source of information for SEO related news, reported that mobile users are doing nearly 60% of the total search.

This enforces the fact that our website should be mobile-friendly.

Now, you might ask me, how do I check if my website is mobile-friendly or not. The answer is google’s mobile-friendly test.

How to use Google’s mobile-friendly test

It is pretty simple to use the Google Mobile-Friendly test.

  • Open the Mobile-Friendly test tool
  • You’ll be prompted with a simple input bar where you can type your website or web page’s URL
  • If your page is mobile-friendly, you will see “Page is mobile-friendly” in green color.
  • If your website or webpage does not qualify as mobile-friendly, then you might need to make some design changes

Want to make 100% sure that your website is mobile-friendly? Open the website or web page on your phone and see how the design looks.

  • Is everything easy to access?
  • Is the text readable?
  • Are the images large enough that you don’t have to zoom in to understand them?
  • Are the buttons the right size, not too big or too small?

If you answered yes to all these questions above, congratulations, your website is 100% mobile-friendly.

Now that your website design is fixed and on point, let’s move and optimise the content on your website.

Step 2: Check and optimise the content on your website

In 2021, Google is all about original content. Though it does not penalise you for duplicate content, make sure to be unique and creative so that your readers are worth more than just a peek!

Here are some detailed and actionable tips that you can use to optimise your website’s content and take it to the next level

Tip #1 – Induce desire and interest in the introduction paragraph

Look at my blogs and the introduction paragraph. They are written to connect with my readers on a personal level and get them excited about what’s waiting for them down below.

Why should you do that?

As I told you earlier, Google is smart, it is tracking the amount of time a reader spends on a webpage, and if a reader spends more time on your website than your competitors, your page gets ranked higher!

Tip #2 – Write short paragraphs

People nowadays want the most important facts at first glance and will not spend time reading lengthy text.

One way to keep your readers engaged is by breaking up paragraphs into shorter segments so people can skim through content quickly without getting bored with too much information on one screen or page.

Tip #3 – Subheaders (H2, H3, H4)

Imagine if I wrote this article without using proper headings. It would be difficult to find out what each section is about, and it could take a lot of time for readers who skim the content until they see something that interests them–what fun!

That’s why, though some people may disagree with me. Headers are essential in any document. They break down your text into smaller chunks, making things easier on both writers and readers while also providing clarity.

Tip #4 – Use Multimedia

How do you make the content more engaging? By using images, videos or audio.

Adding visuals to your website will help tell a compelling story by showing what is happening in detail and giving insight into how it makes people feel.

Moreover, adding images, video clips, or voice recordings can help engage readers with their reading material on another level.

Note: Adding visuals can potentially increase the time readers will spend on your article. As I said above, there is a direct correlation between visitors’ stay time and google rankings.

Tip #5 – Include short answers to questions 

This is important as google likes to answer user queries using featured snippets in its results. Answering questions with short and concise information will surely get it into the featured snippet.

Why should you target featured snippet?

Many websites are competing for that number 1 spot in the search, and they usually have more than 1500 words. But Google is looking for answers that are short and directly answers a users query.

If you can answer those questions with short answers, you will have an excellent chance of getting in the featured snippet and remembering they are placed above the regular results. You are ultimately getting a lot more views that way.

Tip #6 – Link to higher authority websites/resources

When you link to other external resources like blogs and articles, make sure they come from a website with higher authority than your own. This will help you rank your content as well as give more weight to it.

Step 3: Check and improve the page speed of your website

Have you ever searched something on google, found a good website, click on it and then all you see is the blank WHITE page for the next 5 seconds. What do you do then? You backtrack and find another website.

This happened because that website’s page speed was terrible. And you do not want that exact thing happening on your website.

How to check your website’s page speed?

I use two websites to test out my website’s page speed.

How to check your website page speed on Google Pagespeed Insights?

Please Note: DO NOT obsess over your score. I consider anything above 75 to be good, and if it’s above 90, congrats! You nailed it.

If your score is below 50, you should fix it ASAP. Look at all the suggestions Google is providing you and try to fix them. You can simply google the recommendations, and I’m sure you will find some expert solution to it.

How to check your website page speed on GTMetrix?

Gtmetrix is another excellent website that will help you analyse the performance of your website. While you can easily access the tool on their website, I suggest creating an account there first.

  • Create an account on GTMetrix
  • Navigate to your dashboard
  • Type your website in the search bar and change your ‘Test URL in’ to your target audience’s country (under Analyse option).
  • Hit ‘Analyse’ and wait for the results

What we are looking at here are the top issues and the page details. Analyse the numbers and improve on all the issues pointed out.

I again want to reiterate that please do not obsess over the numbers. A load time below 3 seconds is ideal and can be achieved with minimal optimisations.

Below are some of the tips that you guys can utilise to improve your page speed.

My suggestions for speeding up WordPress Website

There might be various tips and tricks that you can utilise to optimise your page speed. However, the following tips are what I use, and so far, they have worked for my clients and me.

Tip #1 – Optimise the images – Images, videos or audio you present on your website takes a lot of time to load because of their massive file size.

My Suggestion: Use plugins like ShortPixel or Imagify. I personally use ShortPixel.

Tip #2 – Use caching plugins – It is faster when you serve static resources on your website instead of dynamic content. Caching plugins can also help you minimise all your HTML, CSS and JS files.

My Suggestion: Use plugins like FlyingPress or WPRocket. I personally use FlyingPress, and you can see my scores above.

Tip #3 – Use Content Delivery Network (CDN)

A CDN will ensure that your website, which might be hosted in one part of the world, loads relatively quickly on the other parts of the world. I will not go into too much detail here.

For example, my website is hosted in Australia, but it still loads quickly when a reader opens it in the United States or Africa because of a CDN.

My Suggestion: Use BunnyCDN (paid) or Cloudflare (Free). I spend as little as 50 cents on BunnyCDN per month, and it delivers a solid performance.

Tip #4 – Use Bloatfree WordPress themes

If you are a small business owner or a freelancer, I’m sure you installed a theme on your website as it is easy and gets your website up and running in no time.

But be aware, some theme like Avada, salient or any other theme from ThemeForest are heavily bloated with excess code that slows down your website.

My Suggestion: Use themes like Kadence or GeneratePress. I use Kadence and my website sparshgambhir.com is build on Kadence.

Tip #5 – Avoid Pagebuilders in WordPress

Using page builder like Elementor, Visual Composer can reduce your page speed drastically. Instead, use Gutenberg blocks.

My Suggestion: Use Kadence Gutenberg blocks and its pro version.

Tip #6 – Use managed VPS or dedicated servers

Cheap shared hosting might look like a better option according to your budget, but it might slow your website.

Instead, use Virtual Private Server (VPS) or dedicated servers to speed up your website.

My Suggestion: Use Cloudways for managed VPS. Use Siteground for good speed on shared hosting. And, if you have a little bit of coding experience, use AWS lightsail, Azure or Google Cloud Platform.

My website is currently hosted on AWS lightsail, and I have no expertise in managing cloud servers.

Step 4: Check and improve the on-page SEO of your website

You might see SEO gurus on the internet emphasising how Backlink are important for your website and so on. While they are essential to a certain extent, it is just one of the factors in ranking.

A significant factor that will help you rank on Google is on-page SEO optimisation. And when you pair this with a good backlink strategy, you will be ranking in the top search results.

Now let’s discuss how you can improve your on-page SEO.

Tip #1 – Use tools like Semrush, Ahrefs or ScreamingFrog

If you are a business owner looking to make some SEO optimisation himself, use tools like Semrush, Ahrefs or ScreamingFrog.

These tools will analyse your domain and present you with all the information you need to know from keywords you are ranking for website audit.

You can utilise the site audit feature in Ahrefs or Semrush and analyse what is wrong with your website and how you can improve upon the issues.

If you don’t want to spend money on these tools, follow these next tips and solidify your on-page SEO

Tip #2 – URL

Yes, you read that right. URL has an impact on your on-page SEO. Your URL is basically letting Google know what the page is about.

Take this article, for instance; the URL of this article is https://sparshgambhir/website-audit-checklist. This URL tells Google that this page is about the website audit checklist, and it also makes coherence when a visitor sees it.

Moreover, it also helps in boosting your ranking when you include relevant keywords in the URL.

Tip #3 – Meta Title & Description

When you’re writing a page’s meta title and description, make sure to include relevant keywords.

On the other hand, please don’t go overboard with your keyword stuffing, as it will backfire on you in the long run by getting penalised for spamming Google search results pages.

Optimise meta titles by including numbers and some power words in them. Your title is what will generate interest in your readers and then compel them to click on the page.

For meta descriptions, keep them under 160 characters. It’s not a hard limit, but google will truncate all the characters after 160, so it makes sense to keep them under the 160 character mark.

Tip #4 – Headings (H1 and H2s)

Headings are a content hierarchy that should be used to organise your page and provide the best reading experience for your readers.

Using an H1 tag on your page will tell Google the keywords your article is targeting. Please stick to only one H1 title per page.

H1 tag is a perfect opportunity to put in your primary keyword but don’t overdo it. Additionally, make sure the heading makes sense when a visitor is reading it.

H2 headings are just as important, and if you use them correctly, they will target your related keywords.

Moreover, If you put a question in one of the h2 headings and have an answer that is short but relevant to it, there are good chances that heading and content will be featured on Google’s search result page.

Tip #5 – Word Count and Unique Content

The average word count for posts on the internet is around 300-800 words. However, it’s crucial to have at least 400-500 words more than your competitors if you target competitive keywords.

Google and readers love unique content, and if you can provide unique and valuable content, your website will be ranked higher.

Tip #6 – Anchor Text 

Anchor text is the clickable link that takes your reader to another website or page on your site. Anchors should always be relevant and lead to a valuable resource for readers, so think carefully before using them.

The important thing is the actual text on which you create a link. It is advisable to have meaningful anchor text. For example, Read more on the website audit checklist — this is good. But, read more on the website audit checklist here — avoid this.

Tip #7 – Image name and ALT tags

Every image on your website should have a descriptive title and ALT text.

The metadata for every image is important because it tells the search engine what the content of that particular page is about, which will help with rankings.

It also helps people who might be visually impaired know more about an article before they click to read it.

Tip #8 – Internal Linking

Adding links to your website helps search engines understand the content on each page and how they relate to one another.

Internal linking is crucial because it will help users move through your website quickly.

Note: You need to make sure that you are linking as much of your content back to the highest priority pages on your site so you can rank higher.

Tip #9 – Broken Links

Check your website for broken links because a link that leads to nowhere will not help with rankings or reader satisfaction.

If the content on one page was moved, you would need to update all of the links to function correctly.

When checking for broken links, make sure they are not 404 pages and direct them to the correct website.

Tip #10 – Stick to one version of your website

You might be thinking how? What different versions?

There can be four different versions of your website.

For example:

  • http://sparshgambhir.com
  • https://sparshgambhir.com
  • http://www.sparshgambhir.com
  • https://www.sparshgambhir.com

You can quickly check what version of the website Google is indexing. Type all these URL variants in your browser and see which URL you end up on.

For example, if you type http://www.sparshgambhir.com or any other variant, you will end up on https://sparshgambhir.com.

If you end up on different variants, you will have to make a 301 (permanent) redirect, so they all point to one variant of your website.

Step 5: Check and improve the off-page SEO of your website

The next step in the website audit checklist is to check and improve your off-page SEO.

Off-Page SEO includes factors such as backlinks, social shares, traffic patterns on your websites, etc.

You want to ensure that each of these backlinks performs optimally because it will help you rank higher and drive more organic traffic to your website.

Tip #1 – Analyse and Optimise your backlinks

You can use tools like Semrush or Ahrefs to analyse and audit your backlinks.

When analysing your backlinks, you should have the following information

  • Number and name of domains linking to your website
  • Number of links pointed towards your websites or webpages
  • Pages on your website with the most number of backlinks
  • The anchor text

Once you have access to this information, make sure all the backlinks pointing to the right web pages.

Tip #2 – Create more backlinks

Getting backlinks from high authority websites in the same industry will help your website ranking and authority.

Some methods that you can utilise to generate high-quality backlinks.

  • Blogger Outreach
  • Citations
  • Paid Advertising
  • Sponsorships
  • Guest Blogging
  • Social Shares

There are various methods other than the ones I have mention which you can research and use. However, these are the ones that I use for my website and my client’s website.

Tip 3 – Google My Business

This is the tool that you should have for your website if you have a local business.

The Google My Business listing is intended to increase the credibility of your business. It will include descriptions, hours and directions, which can be found on any map when someone’s looking for something close by.

Having a google my business does not provide your website with any backlink, but it does provide your business with another avenue through which you can gain potential customers.

Step 6: Keep tabs on your incoming traffic

Your website is an essential part of your business. It’s imperative to know how it performs so that you can make improvements when needed.

Keep track of where your visitors come from and what pages they’re looking at—these things will help shape the future direction for optimisation efforts on-site content.

Tip #1 – Get on Google Search Console

Google Search Console is a suite of tools created by Google to help website owners and web admins understand how their site performs in search results.

It includes many features, from tracking issues with your live website on desktop or mobile devices to seeing how you’re ranking for different queries on Google’s search engine.

Visit Google Search Console and follow their step by step guide to enable it.

Tip 2 – Install Google Analytics

With the help of Google Analytics, you can see which pages are your most popular. You will know if anyone is viewing them and how they were reached: through the search engine or a link from other sites.

This tool also tracks individual user activity on each page to have more detailed insight into their behaviour where it matters most on your site.

You can watch any youtube video on ‘How to set up google analytics’ to get your analytics up and running.

Step 7: Keep tabs on your competitor

You are always in competition with others. It’s important to keep an eye on what your competitors are doing and how they rank for keywords that you also want to rank for.

Tip #1 – Analyse your Competitors

Use the paid SEO tools like Ahrefs or Semrush. They will help you analyse the competitors you have based on your keywords, traffic and backlink data.

However, you can also analyse your competitors manually by searching the keywords you are targeting. The top 10 domains that you see will be your competitors.

Tip #2 – Reverse engineer your competitor’s success

It’s crucial to see what your competitors are doing well and replicate that on your website. This will help you rank for the exact keywords as them, but it also means there is a greater chance that people will share or link back to your site thanks to its similarity.

Please note: Do not duplicate their content or assets. We are only replicating their process, which has led them to the top position.

If you’re looking to improve your website, it’s time to analyse the competition and do one better than them. 

Google will show your website higher on their search results page if they see that you’ve done something different from what is already out there.

Secret Bonus Tip #1: Use SkyScraper Technique

What does it mean? As you can read in the name, we scrape ideas and motivation from the top 10 results for a particular keyword.

Analyse the results and then create content that is 10x better, in-depth and unique than the ones you saw in the top 10 results.

Read Brian Dean’s SkyScrapper Technique

Secret Bonus Tip#2: Use social media platforms

Take your content to the big names in Social Media and get them talking about you!

You may not think that a social media site like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or Linkedin can give backlinks for SEO purposes. You would be wrong.

These sites have high authority, and if you post your content there, people will share it with their followers on these platforms, which result in more traffic coming from those networks of friends who are following each other across different websites through the magic of hashtags (#ILoveMyReaders).

Feeling Motivated? Get to work

The way your website looks, the content on it and how well that content is ranked in search engines are all essential factors in generating more traffic.

I’ve given you many tips for improving these aspects of your site, so make sure to check them out.

Also, don’t forget about off-page SEO by optimising social media profiles and guest blogging as part of an overall plan.

It can often be hard keeping tabs on everything, which is why I recommend using Ahrefs or Semrush.

Finally, if you think this article has been helpful, please share it with friends who might also benefit from reading my advice – no need for a secret.

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