There are scores of free tools out there that will help you review your website to assess what’s working effectively and what would benefit from an overhaul.
While these tools can provide some useful insights, they often have a major shortcoming: too narrow of a focus on SEO and site speed. Searchability and user experience are certainly important, but your website’s quality and functionality encompass so much more than these features.
At Brightspot, we conduct robust audits as part of every engagement because our focus is on improving your digital experience, writ large. We audit for SEO and speed, yes, but we also look at taxonomy, pages, URLs, body text, images and search functionality, among various other things.
Checklist: What a website audit should include
The Brightspot CMS has tools to help you set up a site that will require little overhaul during a future audit. However, it’s a good practice to regularly look at all these aspects of your site to see what you could improve. Here are some of the primary things we review with new clients at Perfect Sense.
Taxonomy is the practice of organizing and classifying things in order to define the relationships between them. In the case of a website, this is all about labeling and organizing content so it’s apparent how things on the site fit together. A well-designed taxonomy is essential for digital content operations.
Brightspot is powered by sections and tags—you want a handful of the former and lots of the latter. However, not all tags are equal. We recommend waiting until you have at least three—and ideally five—pieces of content associated with a tag before you publish it. And because remembering all the tags you use can be difficult, Brightspot uses Amazon Comprehend to suggest tags from your unique taxonomy for each article, making the process of categorizing easy.
An audit should include an accounting of all of your site’s pages. Does each one have a unique purpose? What should readers do on each page? If they’ve clicked onto a particular page to find something or answer a question, make sure the relevant information is immediately apparent. If you make visitors scroll and search, they’re much more likely to abandon the page and your site.
Well-constructed URLs are essential for getting good search rankings. A URL should read like a short descriptive phrase with a clear meaning and some keywords. Since URLs may not carry metadata with them, such as when they’re shared via copy and paste, they must convey information on their own.
Remember that a URL and the page’s headline do not have to match exactly, though they should be fairly close. Brightspot automatically creates URLs for new pages and posts based on the page headline, and the built-in taxonomy settings make it easy to include a category in each URL. Brightspot also allows you to create your own URL to optimize for keywords or to allow for redirects when necessary.
Take a discerning eye to the body text on your pages and posts. Are the paragraphs short? Do you insert bulleted and numbered lists to break up the text? Have you incorporated pull quotes to highlight important points?
The idea is to keep your text scannable. Avoid extraneous instructions, such as “click here”—visitors will readily see where to click. Look to see if your pages are overly crowded. You don’t want a lot on each page, though it can add interest to include in-line images, graphics and videos. Make sure everything on the page adds value.
Audiences are more likely to click on and engage with content that includes an image. So pay close attention to selecting an image, particularly in thinking about what each one conveys about the content. Every image you publish should include a credit, a caption and descriptive alt text.
Brightspot makes image sourcing and management easy; the CMS uses federated search to connect to photos from online databases and sites like Getty Images and YouTube. The CMS also allows for advanced photo editing with a suite of creative tools built in.
An audit should also include a look at the effectiveness of your on-site search and your back-end search. On-site search is what allows your visitors to find what they’re looking for. Back-end search helps your editors quickly find the content they need for updating, editing or linking.
Brightspot provides robust search functionality; you are able to view your results in various ways—in a list or a grid; sorted by date, pageviews or other parameters; or showing a customized set of fields.
Website audits are vital to online success
After you’ve spent time, energy and money building out a beautiful website full of engaging and informative content, it’s important that it gives your visitors the experience you’ve (and they’ve) imagined.
Audiences are highly sensitive to an online experience—they’re apt to click away from a site at the slightest delay or smallest hurdle. You have precious few chances to interest them, draw them in and establish a relationship of trust. Auditing your website will help ensure your site is an asset instead of a liability.
Content is key to what we do
Our in-house, full-service content team has performed comprehensive audits for hundreds of customers, from leading media companies to top global brands. Once supported by Brightspot CMS, our partners are empowered to live the lessons learned during the audit, backed by the platform’s best-in-class editorial tools and robust admin features.
Request a demo to discover how Brightspot’s functionality can take the pain out of future audits by helping you build a better website from the start.