If you own a website, chances are you’ve replaced outdated content. But how often do you do a systematic website audit to ensure that all of your content is current, reliable, and authoritative? How often do you check all the links on your website to make sure they still lead somewhere? How often do you assess each piece of content for its effectiveness in light of your organizational goals and your target consumer base?
If your answer to questions like these is: “Errr,” you might want to consider instituting a yearly website audit to make sure your content is ship-shape and gets updated properly.
What Do You Mean by Website Audit?
A website audit is an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of your website’s content. Also called a content audit, the goal is to systematically go through all the information on your website in order to improve it.
You can audit for:
- Appropriateness: Is the content appropriate for your target audience?
- Currency: Is the content current or is it outdated?
- Reliability: Is the content reliable when compared to content from competitors? Are you saying anything that might be easily disputed once a consumer is using your product or service? If you’re a non-profit: are you citing information relating to your cause correctly? Is there better information out there from another source?
- Authoritativeness: Is the content authoritative? Does it contain information that marks you as a leader in your industry? Or does it make you sound like a newbie?
- SEO: Is the content optimized for key search factors like keyword density, keyword placement, and length?
The overall goal of any website audit is to closely examine your website’s content to ensure that it is the best it can possibly be. Consumers often won’t buy from a poorly maintained website. If you have outdated, inaccurate, or ineffective content on your website, chances are you are not putting your best foot forward online.
How Often Should I Perform a Website Audit?
This is a question we get asked by a lot of our clients. Our answer is always that it depends on the flow of content within your organization. If you are constantly updating your website, then you probably need to perform an audit every couple months to make sure your content is where it needs to be. If you update your website rarely, then you probably don’t need to audit as often.
Regardless of what type of organization you are, however, you should probably be auditing your website at least once per year. Many members of organizations we’ve worked with or spoken to have confessed that they’ve never done an audit of their website audit or can’t remember the last time they did one. Most people who own websites seem to be in the mode of “putting out fires”: when they notice something is updated, they hurry up and repair it. Other than that, their content goes unchecked.
It’s better to be doing an audit every year, just like preparing your taxes, then not at all.
What Are the Impacts of Not Doing Regular Audits?
The problem is that content that goes unchecked by you can still be seen by consumers. Content that may have been cutting edge a couple years ago might be lagging behind the competition today.
Some of the negative impacts we have detected in client websites that haven’t been audited regularly include:
- Alienation of target consumers due to messaging that doesn’t appeal to the types of people you’re trying to attract
- Falling behind competitors when it comes to customer or donor attraction and retention
- Customer/donor frustration at having content delivered to them that is unreliable or factually inaccurate
- Loss of market position due to appearing less authoritative than a competitor
- Poor showing in search engine results due to missed keyword opportunities or ineffective writing
In other words, it simply doesn’t pay to leave content up too long. In fact, it can cost your organization significant resources in the form of lost revenue, poor customer / donor retention, or poor engagement with potential leads.
Do Yourself a Favor: Schedule Your Next Website Audit Today
If you haven’t done an audit of your website in the last year, or if you have concerns about any of the factors mentioned in this article, set aside time to do an audit of your site before the problems intensify. You owe yourself the peace-of-mind that comes with knowing that visitors to your website will see the most up-to-date content possible.