How to Audit your WordPress Website
Auditing your WordPress website can be as minimal or as comprehensive as you want it to be. If you’re just looking at one area, like refreshing your images, SEO ranking or other analytics (such as opt-ins or bounce rates), then your audit could be quite simple. A fully comprehensive website audit looks at everything and how it all works together.
A full website audit will give you a complete picture of how your website is performing.
With that knowledge, you’ll have an action plan to create a high performance website. I’m going to break down all the areas you need to consider for a fully comprehensive audit.
DON’T MISS THE FREE CHECKLIST!
At the bottom of this post, there’s a downloadable checklist with all the action steps that I’ve outlined here. I will also be writing more in-depth posts on each major area below, so check back for those posts as I write them.
Please note this audit can apply to all websites, but some recommendations will apply to WordPress websites only.
This covers all the technical aspects that go into your site:
Site speed: Test your site speed here (make sure to note your target country) and see how it’s ranking. This tool will also give you insights on what specifically is slowing down your site so you can make changes.
- ACTION: Save the test and note the areas that are slowing down your site. Retest as you update your site.
Plugins: Along with updating your plugins regularly, you should also make sure that your plugins aren’t outdated or unused. Too many plugins clogs up your website and can slow it down or even shut it down as hackers can use old or insecure plugins to gain access to your site.
- ACTION: Go through your plugins one by one, and determine if they’re being used or need to be used. The fewer, the better.
Host: Your web host can be a great resource for your website. They can help you explore backend options to speed up your site or investigate issues that occur.
- ACTION 1: Review your hosting package. Ask your host if your site is running well on the backend and what could be improved.
- ACTION 2: Some hosts are slower than others, so check the most up to date list of the best/fastest hosting platforms. Consider switching if necessary.
Theme: Your theme can also be an issue at times, ie. if it’s outdated (technically or visually), comes with too many add-ons or not enough flexibility, or has bugs. Make sure your theme is always updated, so you have the latest fixes that the theme developers have published.
- ACTION 1: Check out your theme’s ranking, support and issues that other users have had on the theme website or somewhere like Theme Forest.
- ACTION 2: As you go through this audit, see if your theme allows you to make the adjustments you need easily or not.
Backups: Your website should be automatically backed up weekly, if not daily. Your host may offer this, in which case you don’t need to worry. However, it may not automatically be included in your hosting package.
- ACTION 1: Ask your host if they backup your site and how often. If they don’t, ask them how much it is to add that service on.
- ACTION 2: If your host doesn’t backup your site or you don’t want to pay them to do it, install a free plugin like Updraft Plus and run backups yourself.
Security: Hackers are constantly trying to gain access to websites and you need to protect it. Your host may offer security, in which case you don’t need to worry. However, it may not automatically be included in your hosting package.
- ACTION 1: Ask your host about security that’s in place for your site. If they don’t currently protect your site, ask them how much it is to add that service on.
- ACTION 2: If your host doesn’t offer security or you don’t want to pay them to do it, install a free plugin like Wordfence and monitor your site yourself.
Is your website on-brand? Does every page and post display the logos, colours, typography, imagery and tone of voice that are (hopefully) set out in your brand guidelines?
This covers all the areas that your brand should show up and be consistent:
Logos: Is your logo up to date, legible, sharp and clear in your header, footer and elsewhere on your site? You want to make sure your logo isn’t pixelated or blurry, and that it’s legible everywhere you’ve placed it (ie. You don’t want a black logo on a dark background).
- ACTION: Check your header, footer and other areas that your logo shows up – is it looking it’s best? Should it be smaller, larger, sharper, or a different file format? Update as needed.
Colours: The colours in your brand guidelines should be represented on the site, with no deviation (other than perhaps tones of those colours). You should be able to set global or default colours within your theme in Appearance – Customize, within the theme’s settings or within the builder you’re using.
- ACTION: Check every page and global area (ie. repeating area, like the footer) to see if the colours match those in your brand guidelines. Update as needed.
Typography: Your brand guidelines should specify the fonts that your brand uses and you should stick to those fonts as much as possible to stay on brand. Note that the fonts to use for Print purposes may not be available from your theme, so you may need to purchase a web license and upload them to your website to use them. A good designer will either walk you through that process OR suggest digital fonts that are widely available to use on your website.
- ACTION: Check the fonts that your theme is using and compare them to the fonts listed in your brand guidelines. If you need to change them, you should be able to do so easily in Appearance – Customize or in your theme’s settings.
Imagery: Not all brand guidelines specify ideal imagery, so if you need help with this area I advise asking a designer to update your guidelines. You want all your imagery to look similar, and ideally even feature your brand colours as often as possible. For example, if a lot of your images have bright lighting, you don’t want to mess up the flow with some darker lit images. Try to stay consistent and check out the plethora of free and paid stock sites like DepositPhotos, Pexels or Twenty20.
- ACTION: Evaluate all your images together in your media folder. Do they look like a family, or like they’ve been taken by same photographer? Update or replace images as needed.
This is also a good time to revisit your brand as a whole. If you want to update any area, be it the logo, colours or fonts, you should finalize those decisions before updating your website.
This covers your SEO ranking and how you can improve it:
Search Engine Optimization can be very important depending on your business, as your potential customers may use search engines to find your website or content. This is a huge topic and there are experts you can hire for SEO, but here are some of the basics to stay on top of:
Analytics: Do you know how people find your website or content? Where do they come from? Tracking your website traffic with Fathom Analytics or Google Analytics can help you determine the performance of your current marketing and SEO strategies, as well as where your traffic is coming from.
- ACTION: Install a traffic tracking plugin on your website or a Google Analytics account to start receiving traffic data to know how your audience finds you and what they’re looking for. To view Google Analytics straight on your website, install Monster Insights. For a more basic tracker, try WP Power Stats (google account not needed).
Keywords: What keywords are you targeting with your content? What can you do to target your content to your audience better? If you’re not sure, you can do keyword research yourself or hire someone to help you. Then you’ll need to focus on editing your copy to match your keywords – the more your keywords show up on your website, the better Search Engines can deliver you to your audience, as it’s more obvious what your site is offering.
- ACTION 1: Install Yoast SEO plugin and start evaluating each page and post for its SEO strength (the plugin will give you a checklist of what to improve based on the keywords you put choose for each page/post).
- ACTION 2: Do some keyword research to find out the best keywords (and hashtags, if you market on social media) for you to use based on what your audience looks for. Some helpful resources for this are Moz.com, Google Keywords Planner, Semrush and Wordstream.
- ACTION 3: Run an SEO audit on your website with Semrush to see how you’re currently ranking, and also see what your most and least popular content is and why.
This covers your links, backlinks and 404 pages:
Image courtesy of Ahrefs
Internal Links: Do all the buttons and links on your site lead to the right place? Sometimes pages or posts get deleted or external websites are taken down, but there’s still links to them lying around your site. This makes for a frustrating user experience and hurts your SEO.
- ACTION: Do a thrash test and make sure all the buttons, links and downloads on your site are working as they should. Update as needed.
Backlinks: Check all the links going to your site and see if any of them are irrelevant, unwanted or coming from toxic sources. The links that go to and from your site affect your ranking with search engines.
- ACTION: You can check backlinks with this free tool from Ahrefs. Try to eliminate ones from irrelevant, unwanted or toxic sources.
Broken Links + 404 Pages: Even if you’ve manually checked all the links on your site, there could be some hidden ones or 404 pages. Taking the time to fix as many as you can will improve your SEO ranking.
- ACTION: Using a tool like Broken Link Check, run a test on your website and review the results. Once you have the results, you should correct the source link or redirect the 404 error somewhere else (maybe with a plugin like this).
This covers how responsive your site is on all devices:
Your site should look good and work properly no matter what device it’s being viewed or used on. Many WordPress builders like Elementor come with responsive view toggles for testing, however you should still test it manually.
- ACTION 1: Test on a tablet – Using a tool like Troy or Chrome Developer Tools, or just a real tablet, go through each page of your website and note any visual or technical issues that show up.
- ACTION 2: Test on mobile – Using a tool like Troy or Chrome Developer Tools, or a real smartphone, go through each page of your website and note any visual or technical issues that show up. There are multiple smartphone sizes though, so I suggest testing it on multiple phones or using the online tools I noted.
COPY + CONTENT AUDIT
This covers all the content and copy that is present on your website:
Copy: How long has it been since you updated the copy on your website? Your most highly visited pages (usually Home and About) should be revisited at least once a year for updates and to see if your tone of voice has changed at all.
- ACTION: Review each page of your website and assess if the tone of voice, message, keywords or structure could be improved to more accurately represent your brand and website. Update as needed – consider hiring a copywriter to help you.
Blog Posts: Your blog posts should all relate to each other and be written in the same tone of voice. If some or all of your posts are evergreen (ie. always relevant), it’s good to revisit them to make sure they’re still on point.
- ACTION: Re-read your blog posts and update links, structure, images, copy and SEO as needed. You can also take this opportunity to take down any that aren’t serving your audience or delivering your message.
Lead Magnets / Downloadable Content: If you offer ebooks, checklists or other downloadable content, they should be always relevant with the most up to date links, copy and funnel sequencing so that your market is getting what was promised to them.
- ACTION: Revisit your downloadable content and update the brand, imagery, copy, links, SEO and funnel actions as needed. Even sign up to the funnel or sequence yourself to see if it plays out the way you want.
- ACTION 1: Evaluate your menus, categories and widgets and see if you can minimize or clean them up.
- ACTION 2: Make sure all your important pages and call to action is readily available in multiple places, so it’s easy for the user to take action.
And that’s how to complete a full WordPress website audit!
If you have any questions or would like to see something added that you’re curious about, you’re always welcome to contact me. If you’re interested in learning more about design for non-designers, make sure to subscribe in the sidebar or footer to receive my Ask A Designer update every month!