An SEO audit can help you improve your WordPress site and ensure your website is effectively reaching your target consumer niche.
SEO Consultants do provide technical SEO Audits (so called On-page SEO Audits) and business reviews, helping website owners better understand the quality and especially the unused potential of their website. This includes everything from code quality, usability, and server configuration to speed, user experience and accessibility and dozens of other aspects. If you are asking yourself: Why do you need a WordPress Audit? What is an audit of a website? How do I do a web audit checklist? This article may the correct one for you.
Why you need a WordPress audit
Is your website functioning well? I mean the entire site, not only the homepage? Only a website audit can tell.
Conducting a website audit allows a company to check how the website runs optimally across various predetermined criteria.
Our WordPress optimization guide addresses everything you need to know about how you should be keeping your WordPress site up-to-date, secure and running efficiently.
As a way of introduction, here are the basics you need to get right when you launch or update a WordPress website.
WordPress website audit checklist
1. Make sure you have the right software installed
Both WordPress itself and its plugins/themes need regular updates. They maintain top performance, fix existing bugs and security vulnerabilities, and allow for the implementation of new features. It’s essential to check your plugin, theme, and WordPress version!
You can find out whether you’re using the latest version of WordPress in ‘Updates’ in the left-hand menu of your WordPress account. This screen also shows which of your plugins and themes are up-to-date.
Updating to the latest core version of WordPress on the other side is simple and can be done in a few steps but always make sure that you made a full backup before. Nowadays incompatibilities do not happen that often but still, it occurs. At this moment you would be more than happy to have your backup file at hand.
Check to see if your site has new updates available. Once you’ve updated your plugins and themes, be sure to test the site to make sure everything looks and works as it should.
2. Check the site’s speed
Website load times are a vital component of site performance, increasing user experience and conversion rates, and even boosting SEO. Google made it crystal clear that Website Performance is one of the core ranking factors for a WordPress Website. You simply cannot pretend to have done your site audit without looking at the Website performance.
You can do a quick test on the speed of your WordPress website using Google PageSpeed Insights. The number of recommendations that you need to take action on increases with each lower score. Aim to keep higher than at least 80 for both mobile and desktop for the best WordPress performance.
Once you’ve checked your scores, head over to our blog. Here we’ve got loads of tips and tricks for a detailed performance audit to improve your website and page speeds.
A tip – the fastest and easiest way to boost up your website speed is to use a Cache Plugin like WP Rocket and taking the website into a content delivery network like for example Cloudflare. We had customers where we could improve the performance by four times only by installing WP Rocket. A procedure which took about 5 minutes in total.
3. Explore your blog topics
The ‘Posts’ section of your WordPress dashboard allows you to see what’s taken place on your site recently. In the ‘Posts’ section of your WordPress dashboard you can see when your latest posts were published, and if any further articles are scheduled.
How often you should post new content will depend on your organizational capability and goals; you may want to add blog posts daily, weekly or monthly.
However, it’s imperative to create a content plan and schedule posts in advance. Scheduling content in WordPress should also be considered part of an overall review of your platform and digital strategy. It is not that important how often you go to publish blog posts but you need to post regularly.
It’s essential to be on the lookout for comments posted on your website or blog. WordPress’ comments have to be moderated before they’re publicly available, so make sure to check the comments section of your dashboard periodically—especially when you receive some feedback! As soon as you get some comments everyday, you might also be thinking of using an Anti Spam Plugin like AntiSpamBee.
4. Safety first – Test your WordPress site’s safety
It’s crucial that you scan your WordPress site regularly for malware, viruses and suspicious code. If any of these things appear on either part of your site, they’re likely to cause huge problems on your WordPress security. These include both financial and identity loss.
Our tip to get at least the minimum level of security is to install the Plugin WordFence. To install Wordfence, first navigate to its website and download the plugin. Once installed, you’ll notice a new menu entry labeled ‘Wordfence Security’. Click this to go to the plugin’s dashboard. Under Security, you’ll find several options for securing your site. To start, we recommend setting the Firewall to ‘harden’ along with ‘Scan my site’.
If there’s ever an issue with your WordPress security, Wordfence will point it out and usually even give you a fix for it.
5. Check for invalid links
A broken link is a dead end for search engine crawlers and users. Google and other search engines hate broken links, so if a user comes across a link to a website that doesn’t work, they’ll want to abandon your site. Thus, you’ll lose that customer and any future business they could have referred to you.
Every WordPress site audit should contain checking your website for broken links. This way, you can update or remove it at once.
Check your site for broken links and fix them to avoid visitors to your site getting frustrated.
We recommend doing a broken link check-up at least every few months, or more often if you create a ton of content. The WordPress Redirection Plugin is one tool you can use to make this task easy. You can set it up easily to redirect users to relevant pages that may be feeling the loss of traffic due to broken link.
Some SEO Plugins like RankMath for example do offer a 404 Check where they will inform you automatically if some internal links are broken.
It’s also a good idea to create a custom 404 error page for your site to keep users happy and on the site!
6. Make sure there is no malfunction
Your WordPress audit should check your website’s design and functionality. Do this by looking through your site from your visitor’s perspective and testing any interactive features—for example, buttons or contact forms.
Giving your site this type of ‘once-over’ will highlight if there are any code, formatting, design or operational issues that need to be investigated and/or fixed. We had ECommerce Shops as customers who were surprised after they saw that entering the email into their contact forms simply was not forwarded to their provider because of an integration error.
7. Check your traffic by Google Analytics
You can and should quickly and easily add Google Analytics to your WordPress site. Install a plugin, such as MonsterInsights, and you can get to your data by going to Insights > Reports in the WordPress backend.
You should also install the Sitekit Plugin published by Google itself, which makes it straightforward to connect your Google Search Console Property and Google Analytics with your Website.
Google Search Console should be one of your most used tools. It gives you detailed insights of how your Website is found and if your XML Sitemap is crawled correctly. It further reports if there are any technical issues at all with specific webpages. It is one of the easiest tools to identify issues related to your website content.
Google Search Console enables you further to check your Core Web Vitals: An explicit ranking factor that encompasses user experience, page speed, and mobile friendliness. Audit your whole site through the GSC Core Web Vitals Report.
Run problem pages through Google PageSpeed Insights and Google Mobile-Friendly Test to identify fixes needed. Once fixed, use GSC again to validate those fixes.
You should also be analyzing how well the content on your site performs from a user perspective, such as with Google Analytics. By checking which parts of your site get the most visitors and how they’re using it, you can determine if it’s working for you, and can receive suggestions on what to change and how.
You especially should check how high or low the bounce rate of each blog post might be. Bounce rate is an Internet marketing term used in web traffic analysis. It represents the percentage of visitors who enter the site and then leave (“bounce”) rather than continuing to view other pages within the same site.
To achieve the best results, it is crucial to understand and check your website’s analytics.
8. Check your site’s SEO
It’s a good idea to give your site an SEO health check as part of your WordPress audit. You can do this using the free Ubersuggest SEO analyzer or with various other, similar online tools, such as Google Keyword Planner, Moz, SEMrush, RankMath SEO Analyzer and CognitiveSEO.
On Ubersuggest, just fill in your URL, select your desired language/country and click the ‘Search’ button. You get a comprehensive yet basic report containing some valuable, detailed insights, including:
- Your current organic keyword visibility according to your chosen country
- Your domain score for your selected country
- The total number of targeted organic keywords you’re appearing for in the search engine
It’s a useful report that can offer valuable basic insights into your current SEO performance although a professional SEO audit goes much deeper.
Go to ‘Site Audit’ under the left-hand menu. This will show you an overview of your SEO site health, including a list of items correcting and areas that need improvement.
Improve your site’s search engine performance by addressing these issues.
9. Check the compatibility between your mobile and the device
There are a couple of tests you can complete, which will give you a good idea as to how well your site looks in different screen sizes.
You should use the Responsive and Mobile-Friendly tests together, so you can ensure you’re meeting the particular needs of mobile users. As mentioned above, your first stop should always be the Google Search Console – here you can find a comprehensive analysis if Google thinks that your website fulfills all prerequisites for mobile friendliness.
10. Check your WordPress database
There’s an old saying that “time is money” and nowhere is this truer than when updating a website. The more updates you need to do, the more time it will take, and thus more money it costs. It’s best to make sure you’re performing due diligence by checking thoroughly through the database (old comments, unused plugins, etc.). Make sure you don’t have any unnecessary items stored in it.
To keep your WordPress database tidy, it’s a good idea to schedule automatic database clean-ups, as well as prune your plugins’ collection, so it doesn’t turn into a cluttered Frankenstein.
11. Backup your data
It’s vital to back up your WordPress website regularly, so that if something happens (crash, malware, DDoS attack, etc.), you can still get your site online again quickly.
As part of your site audit, you should check and verify your backups. Make sure your backups are secure, recent, and being saved to different locations. This will ensure you have the best chance of being able to reinstate your site if disaster ever happens.
It’s also worth doing your research when it comes to back up schedules. The more regularly you back up, the fewer data you’ll lose if you need to revert to a backup version. It also pays to make sure that backups are scheduled for low-traffic periods, as they’ll have the least impact on site speed and user experience.
While regular backups are important to any website, they are essential for WordPress sites. There are plenty of free solutions out there. Our recommendation is installing a simple Backup Plugin such as UpDraft Plus or BackWPup, those can easily handle the process. For peace of mind, it’s worth investing in a paid solution. For example, BackupBuddy is one of the most popular plugins for WordPress available. It regularly adds new bells and whistles.
12. Check the user profiles
WordPress allows you to add a variety of user types to a blog, each with specific roles to create, edit and manage content. If you have hired in the past external help it is a good idea to check user accounts.
Your website Audit Checklist should be always containing analyzing the current user profiles. As user profiles can be misused for identity fraud, it’s a good idea to review the site users and check that people have only the level of permissions required. In the last couple of years we have seen countless websites from our customers where for months Administrator User Accounts were still enabled, although they were only needed for a day or two.
It’s also an excellent idea to update user passwords as part of your audit. The passwords you choose should be quite secure, including something random and hard-to-guess, such as a jumble of letters and numbers as well as special characters. The integrated WordPress password generator does a good job, you just need to copy and paste it.
13. Check accessibility
With one in five of the general population having a long-term disability, it is sensible to check how accessible your site is. Did you know that UK law requires that services, including websites, are easily used by the public, including those with disabilities?
As part of your audit, we recommend evaluating your WordPress website’s accessibility, for example by a platform like Wave.
14. Reviewing administrative tasks
Make sure to not forget some administrative tasks, which do only occur once in a while.
Most websites require regular domain renewals. Make sure your website domain is renewed regularly to avoid website hosting disruption.
This can take place directly through your hosting provider or through your WordPress agency.
Planning ahead is critical to running a successful business’s website. Having a disaster recovery plan is essential to anticipate what could happen next. Be prepared for the worst by keeping your plan updated with changing laws and procedures, your website’s latest details, and your organization’s latest version of procedures.
Your current hosting provider may not have all the features you need. Switching to a new host, or combining multiple hosts, can be complicated, so it’s best to start by reviewing whether your current hosting provider is meeting your needs.
To keep your WordPress site secure, your SSL certificate renews itself every two years. You can either manage your renewals through your hosting provider or with Let’s Encrypt. One of the best plugins to check your SSL configuration is Really Simple SSL.
Finalize your WordPress audit!
This will give you an overview of how your WordPress site is performing.
Alternatively, if you want expert WordPress content management or a more comprehensive review of your website’s performance, get in touch and we’ll be happy to assist you.
Markus Schad | Senior SEO Strategist
Markus Schad is Senior SEO Consultant with over 8 years experience in getting more traffic and visitors for his customers. He is the founder of Commander-SEO.com.
Our other Blog posts
6 Top Places to Hire WordPress Developers
Sometimes you need the help of a WordPress Professional. As WordPress is so widely used, there is no shortage of
Top 10 Mistakes Small Business Owners Make When Using SEO
Know Which Common SEO Mistakes to Avoid to Grow Your Local Business In spite of the importance of search engine
FREE AI Chatbot For WordPress using ChatGPT
How to install a ChatGPT AI Chatbot for WordPress Have you ever wished you could create a chatbot for your