New years mark new beginnings. At midnight, we earn a clean slate to go through another 12 months. But before we whip up a fresh set of goals, it’s good to look back at the year we’ve had and see what we could have done better.
Reflecting on New Year’s Eve is applicable even in business. To move forward, you need to know exactly what went right as well as the lapses you’ve made. Fortunately, if you’ve been keeping track of your progress, you have piles of data to reference.
A year-end website audits consists of five major checks on performance, design, lead generation, SEO, and social media. It’s done to keep everything up to date and to ensure that visitors are getting the best user experience.
To get you started, we’ve listed 10 of the most critical elements you need to check before renewing your KPIs.
1. Page Speed
Page speed is one of the top SERP ranking factors. If your website fails to load in under two seconds, it’s unlikely for visitors to stick around.
If there’s nothing wrong on your end, check your web host. Upgrade to a better plan or change service providers. These changes will go a long way in minimizing bounce rates and improving customer retention.
Web security is a priority no matter the time of year. According to IBM, the average total cost of a data breach increased by 10% in 2021—that’s over $4 million in repairs and lost revenue.
A single incident can break brand trust, driving even your oldest customers away from business. To make things worse, Google flags vulnerable websites to protect its users so you can’t rank well unless you remove threats from your site.
Renew your HTTPS certificate and scan your pages for malware and other viruses. Additionally, update your web resources, especially those you’ve acquired from third-party developers. Doing so blocks hackers from exploiting vulnerabilities.
As smartphones become more accessible, it’s no wonder that consumers have developed a preference for mobile surfing. In 2021, Statista reported approximately 7.1 billion mobile users generating almost 55% of global website traffic.
The steady shift to smartphones and tablets from desktops implores web designers to prioritize mobile friendliness. Websites must be responsive to different screen sizes and be equipped to handle multi-touch gestures.
Google’s Mobile-Friendly Testing Tool determines the readiness of your website for mobile users. All you need to do is to enter your domain name and the tool calculates the results in less than 30 seconds.
Getting a good score relies heavily on your theme or template, so it’s best to hire a professional team to knock it out of the park.
4. Web Design and Content
Auditing web content involves a handful of tasks. You want to make sure that your contact information, store location, and business hours are up to date.
Next, go over your blog pages. Identify which articles have duplicates, those that need re-optimization, and the ones that should be deleted for good. The same goes for your product and service pages.
In terms of web design, year-end audits cover usability and branding. Assess where you can simplify navigation to lower bounce rates and boost conversions.
Additionally, if you’ve implemented major rebranding efforts, gather your team to evaluate its performance and review customer feedback.
A sitemap is a file that describes and summarizes all content entries on your website. It helps web crawlers go through numerous pages and see how they’re interconnected.
Websites with several hundred web pages need sitemaps to organize information and feed them more efficiently to search engines for indexing. They’re especially useful when a website has pages that don’t naturally link to each other, causing some pages to become overlooked.
Pull up your site map and see if it’s updated. Ideally, you should have been updating your sitemap alongside your web content so that the most recent page is on the file.
If you’ve missed a few updates, generate a sitemap through your CMS or preferred tool, verify it, and submit the .xml file to Google and Bing.
6. Indexed Pages
After submitting an updated sitemap, your next order of business is to look for crawling issues. It’s important that web crawlers don’t run into any problems while indexing so Google can rank your content accordingly.
Open Google Search Console and navigate to the Coverage tab to see indexing errors. Click on the results to reveal problematic URLs and additional information.
Next, double-check that only one version of your website is indexed by Google. Problems arise when you have different URLs for a single web page. Enter these variations onto your browser to test if they lead to the correct domain. If not, set up 301 redirects.
Keywords are at the heart of many SEO strategies. By targeting the right ones, smaller brands can climb up SERPs faster, allowing them to reel in organic traffic.
What you should keep in mind is that keyword performance declines over time, so you should monitor them as closely as possible. Drastic dips in keyword performance signal that you need to revisit your content. What information needs updating? What can you do to make it more relevant?
Using Google Analytics, you can pinpoint pages that don’t help your ranking. Make the necessary adjustments and research better keywords to incorporate into your content.
8. Broken Links
Broken links are links that redirect users to an error page (404 Not Found). This happens when a user attempts to access content that was permanently removed from your website.
Encountering a ton of 404 errors makes your brand appear untrustworthy. It also sabotages your SERP ranking since Google dismisses poor UX and outdated websites.
You can use tools like Google Analytics to find broken links all at once. Replace them with live content or delete the links altogether.
CTAs play a significant role in marketing and lead generation campaigns. Great CTAs are compelling and action-oriented to push visitors to proceed to the next stage of their buyer’s journey.
Almost every page on your website should have an actionable link. Choosing the right one depends on the subject matter highlighted on the page as well as the stage of the customer lifecycle you’re targeting.
Take note of your most successful CTAs and analyze what made them so enticing. Pay attention to your copy, color choices, placement, and audience demographics to improve future strategies.
10. Competitor Analysis
Finally, keep a close eye on your competitors. Compare your performance against other brands to spot missed opportunities and weak links.
What types of content are they posting? Are they following any new web design trends? How are you holding up against their SEO performance? Take these insights into consideration as you plan for the year ahead.
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