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Talking Point - WEBSITE AUDITS

It’s useful to undertake a website audit from time to time and this can be carried out on the basis of either a brief review, whereby a checklist of areas to be assessed is worked through, or on the basis of a more in-depth analysis which involves reviewing each area in more detail.

Typically, a third-party review undertaken by fresh eyes is likely to produce a more balanced or neutral audit than one undertaken by the owners of the website as they will be too close (and possibly emotionally attached) to the website. As part of the audit process a report should be prepared and provided to the client.

A typical site audit would consist of checking the following areas:

"Look and Feel"
The design and layout of the pages is viewed for appropriateness of the site design, given the potential target markets.

Similarly, the design and layout of the site navigation and its ease of use is assessed and the appropriateness of the navigation checked for the potential types of site users.

The "logic" of the site would be assessed for intuitiveness. “Flow" needs to be easy and obvious. The site should be easy to use and should make for a "stressless" experience.

Clarity of the overall look and quality of the site is vital – a website should represent the organisation at its best.

The quality of the site imagery should be assessed and commented on. Sizing of images is most important. Alt tags (alternative text) should be included and are an important factor for search engine optimisation.

Download Speed
The speed the site downloads should be assessed and commented on. Speed can be crucial given specific viewer requirements, and the many variables involved in website hosting, however avoid using third-party online speed tests based in distant countries as they’re never accurate.

Consistency with Brand
The consistency of the website with the overall organisational brand collateral and brand consistency is also very important, given the requirement of an organisation to look consistently professional in order to maintain credibility with its target markets.

Contact ability
The ability to contact an organisation quickly via its site is paramount. Sites need to feature all appropriate contact detail in a prominent manner, which is easy to see and access. Phone numbers should be live links.

Content Quality
Again, the quality of the content on a site is very important. Often the website is the first contact people will have with your organisation and this first contact must make an impact in a positive way. Readability is key with regards to content. Out of date info should be removed and the homepage should be refreshed regularly with relevant updates.

The quality of the forms found on a site is also very important. Logical flow in the construction of forms is essential, as is brevity. Site users will be put off by lengthy forms that look as if they will take too long to complete. Validation in forms is also very important so that users know that the data they are transferring is secure and treated appropriately.

Search Engines - Internal
The quality of the site is greatly enhanced if an internal site map and search engine facility is available. This aids ease of navigation.

Keyword Analysis
Does your site include the right keywords and phrases that a person might search on? Websites should be examined to see how easily people can find your products or services using the top international search engines and directories.

Title Tag Analysis
How effective are your title tags and do they conform to acceptable search engine standards? The title tag is your most important keyword tag and if it’s not written correctly will seriously affect your search engine rankings.

Meta Tag Analysis
Are your Meta tags search engine friendly, or are they penalising you in some search engine listing results? A site audit should identify any problems with your current Meta tags that could affect your position in search engine rankings.

Web Page Content
Do your web pages include your most important keyword phrases? If not, clients may never find your site. Web pages should be examined for keyword content, and where necessary, ensure that your most important keywords are also referenced to page title and Meta tags where appropriate.

Broken Links
Having broken links on your website is unforgiveable. Links need to be tested at regular intervals, not just when your site is undergoing an audit. This includes any broken internal or external links.

Spelling Check
Do you use the right form of spelling for the countries you are marketing to? Is the spelling correct on your site? 

Search Engines Submission
Has your site been submitted to the right search engines and directories, or are there some that you don't know about? As part of your audit, a search of the top international search engines should be undertaken to see who you have submitted to.

Links Analysis
As part of your audit, a links analysis to identify other websites that link to you should be undertaken. Link popularity is considered to be one of the most important factors in establishing popularity with key search engines like Google. This is measured by the number of sites that link to your site. The more sites that link to you, the higher your Page Rank and subsequent rankings will be with the Google search engine.

Competitive Analysis
A Links Popularity analysis can be performed as part of the site audit. This is done on competing websites to see what secrets your main competitors may be using to gain higher search engine rankings or a much superior online marketing advantage over you.

Web Page Coding
HTML should be validated for mistakes in web page coding which may cause problems with search engines.


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