That’s a pretty un-sexy word, and it reminds you of accountants, the tax department, endless paperwork and plenty of hassle.
I am talking about an entirely different kind of audit that you will actually look forward to.
This one does not involve a government department or accountants.
You don’t need to get involved in it, save for answering some highly targeted questions about your business goals.
And best of all, you get a solid plan that can improve your site and help you properly sell yourself.
I am talking about a site audit.
Why audit your B2B website?
One of the biggest reasons you need to audit your site is content marketing.
As more and more B2B brands are seeing the value of content marketing they are simultaneously realizing that their websites are not up to snuff and are about as appealing as a bowl of boiled oatmeal.
You know the type, right? A home page with stock images and a layout that was cutting edge in the late 90s, with a messed up layout.
Internal pages that are broken, incomplete, under construction and horribly out of date.
Oh, and my favorite: content that has been written a decade ago and reads like it was put together by a committee made up of a super cautious lawyer, a PR rep afraid of bad press, a marketing manager who sounds like a used car salesman and the engineer who is all API this and SMTP that.
These websites are hurting brands badly, kinda like how a overgrown lawn hurts the value of a property.
But even if your site is not that bad, you are likely not equipped for 2012. You probably can’t upload content regularly and easily without messing around with the code in the backend.
Your site looks godawful on mobile platforms.
It does not play nice with video and other interactive elements.
And most importantly, your visitors don’t seem to be convinced by your message, tone or language . The site won’t be a lead generating machine and will do zilch towards building a list for email marketing.
What to focus on during a site audit
You want to focus broadly on 3 areas during a site audit
- Design, looks and feel,
- Content and marketing message.
When you consider design and look and feel, you have to see a number of factors like
- valid HTML and CSS,
- user friendly navigation,
- suitable fonts and color palette,
- abundant whitespace,
- presence or absence of Flash/ JS navigation,
- loading speeds,
- mobile friendliness and
- cross browser compatibility.
When you consider SEO, you have to look at stuff like
- broken links,
- search engine friendly <title>, <H1>, <H2> and <meta-description> tags,
- configuration of robots.txt page,
- tactics like keyword stuffing,
- URL structure and
- inbound and outbound links.
When you consider content and messaging look at
- uniformity of tone,
- presence of keywords,
- duplicate content,
- readability (e.g. metrics like Flesch Kincaid grading scale),
- information architecture,
- the resonance of the content with the market,
- how “social” the site is,
- spelling and grammatical errors,
- structure of the home page and
- performance of key pages like landing pages in terms of metrics like bounce rate and time on site.
Contents of a site audit report
A site audit report will include recommendations into specific areas so that the site can achieve its desired goals. Ideally, a site audit should be good enough for short to medium term, unless the priorities and goals of the owners have changed drastically.
Any site audit report that does not include a content inventory is incomplete. This should be a comprehensive inventory which lets the site owners know what digital assets they have (including whitepapers, case studies and videos), and whether they are performing as intended.
And finally, because the site will not exist in vacuum, and will be competing with other sites in the same space a competitive analysis of the competition has to be conducted. Check out the sites of the closest 5 competitors.
This process will roughly be similar to the site audit, and findings from the analysis will help you know your strengths and weaknesses.
The other day I exchanged mails with a marketer who was unhappy with their content. Lets call her Linda.
She said, “Our site is so bad that I tell people while giving out business cards that the site is going to be updated soon. But we don’t know how to start”.
If you are like Linda, you need a site audit like yesterday.
I offer a site audit service for B2B websites. If you are unhappy with your site and want me to go through it with a fine toothed comb and suggest changes drop me a mail here with the subject “Need site audit”