How to Conduct a WordPress Site Audit

May 30, 2024

How to Conduct a WordPress Site Audit

Conducting a WordPress website audit is not just a best practice; it’s a necessity for ensuring that your site remains top notch in terms of performance and security, ensuring you receive the maximum return on your marketing or operational website objectives.  An audit WordPress approach is like a comprehensive health check-up for your website, intending to diagnose issues before ideally they become problematic and affect your bottom line sales.

Through a WordPress site audit, you can achieve and sustain top-notch site performance, bolster your site’s security measures, and ensure your WordPress site reaches its full potential, both in terms of driving sales and ensuring a quality user experience.

Preparing for Your WordPress Site Audit

When preparing to process a WordPress site audit, it’s important to set clear objectives and understand what you aim to achieve and what the objective of the audit will be.   Is it to just ensure your site is following overall best web development practices?  Is it to target a specific pain point you are currently experiencing such as slow load times? Having specific goals in mind will streamline your audit WordPress process and set the stage for what areas you will be focusing on such as technical audit metrics or user experience benchmarks, ensuring it’s both efficient and effective.  Not all WordPress site audits are equal in both terms of quality and effort.   Using manual investigation versus automated tools can make a big difference in catching potential issues.  While some audits are entirely automated, we recommend utilizing a mix of automated tools and manual checks to ensure the audit results are accurate and useful for improving your WordPress website.  Below are some of the common tools that may be a good starting point for collecting data as part of your audit process:

  • GTMetrix and Pingdom are industry standard tools for benchmarking real-world and theoretical page speed data in an easy-to-understand format that can provide real actionable insights.
  • Google PageSpeed Insights is another common tool for benchmarking real-world and theoretical page speed data, but is geared specifically for meeting Google’s speed standards which may affect your website’s search engine ranking.
  • My Web Audit is a more holistic audit approach that connects to your website and analyzes your website across a plethora of metrics.  It is heavily focused on SEO benchmarking, but does have some tools built-in for technical audit work as well.
  • Google Analytics is indispensable for understanding user behavior and traffic sources, providing insights that can help improve your site’s SEO and user experience when those are a key focus of the audit.
  • Google Search Console is Google’s free health report tool for your website – it alerts you of any SEO-related issues such as crawling errors, user experience issues and more.
  • Browser Console is your browser’s built in debugging tool which can alert you of any JavaScript or network issues that may be affecting your website’s performance.  All major browsers have such a console with Chrome and FireFox being our favorites.
  • Moz and SEORush are SEO benchmarking and keyword research tools that are very powerful, although expensive.  Consider using a tool similar to these even if you have to use a less known tool such as WebSite Auditor by Link Assistant.
  • SEOPress Pro, Yoast SEO or another similar WordPress plugin are essential tools for any audit WordPress strategy focused on search engine optimization.  These tools offer comprehensive features to analyze your current copy and optimize your content and keywords when on-page SEO is a concern.
  • WAVE Web Accessibility is a free scanner to test your website against accessibility WCAG standards.  Note it is not comprehensive, but will give you a starting point of accessibility is a concern.
  • VirusDie and Sucuri SiteCheck are malware and security scanning tools that will scan your website for potential security threats, malware or vulnerabilities. 
  • MX ToolBox Blacklist Check will run your domain through known public blacklists to ensure your website has not been compromised or listed as a threat across various security and browsers.
  • WP HealthCheck scans your WordPress site for performance issues and security vulnerabilities, making it a must-have in your toolkit.

These tools form the backbone of a productive WordPress website audit, equipping you with the resources needed to elevate your site’s performance and security to the next level, but keep in mind, this list is not exhaustive and you should manually look at other relevant tools to your specific situation.  

Technical Audit

In a comprehensive WordPress website audit, the technical audit stands as a foundational pillar, scrutinizing key aspects that influence your site’s effectiveness and security.

Website Speed and Performance

A swift-loading website enhances user experience, reduces bounce rates, and improves SEO rankings. Tools such as GTmetrix and Pingdom offer insights into your site’s performance, suggesting actionable improvements.  Furthermore, consider reviewing Google’s Core Web Vitals benchmarks as additional insights into potential speed improvements.  You can tweak your WordPress settings such as caching, performance plugins, image optimization and loading scripts to improve speed.

Backups

Having redundant backup systems in place is key to a stable and secure website.  Ensure you are running backups daily not only with your WordPress website site, but also with another third party such as your WordPress web development agency or using a tool such as BlogVault.

WordPress Hosting and PHP Version

Review your WordPress host and talk with others about any concerns you may have with your current host in terms of support or performance issues.   Also ensure you are using a maintained version of PHP since this not only affects security, but page load times as well.

Database Optimization

Take a look under the hook at your WordPress database and see if there are any unnecessary tables or if the database looks unusually large for the size of your website.  Free WordPress plugins such as Database Cleaner and AAA Option Optimizer can scan your database automatically and find areas for optimization. 

Mobile Responsiveness

The importance of a mobile-friendly website has escalated with mobile browsing surpassing desktop. You can review any mobile-related errors listed in Google Search Console for your domain.  This is crucial in a WordPress website audit, as a non-responsive site can significantly harm your SEO rankings and degrade user experience on mobile devices.

Legal Requirements

In the growing complexity of the web, legal compliance is a concern, especially regarding data privacy laws and regulations as well as accessibility concerns.  Review your location and who you are marketing to since this directly affects what regulations you need to meet in terms of data and accessibility compliance.  Research tools such as UserWay and CookieYes as a first response if you do not have any compliance remediation in place.  These tools can help you meet some baseline compliance, although they are typically not fully compliant. 

Security Check

Regularly conducting security scans can detect potential threats, with tools like VirusDie, Malcare and Sucuri Security Scanner providing comprehensive security assessments. Incorporating these checks into your WordPress website audit ensures your site remains protected against emerging security threats.  Consider reviewing what firewall you have in place at your WordPress host along with if you are using end to end security tools such as CloudFlare at the DNS level. Ensure you have an SSL certificate installed properly.  Review any APIs connected to the website via a plugin and ensure the API is secure and owned by your organization.  Lastly, review all WordPress backend users and remove any unnecessary users, especially admins or editors.

Plugin and Theme Evaluation

Regular evaluation of your site’s plugins and themes is essential for maintaining site performance and security. During a WordPress website audit, assessing each plugin and theme for updates, compatibility, and necessity helps eliminate potential conflicts and vulnerabilities.   Just checking for updates is not enough, you should check the latest version available against the changelog in the vendor’s website or the WordPress plugin repo.   Any plugins that have not had updates for many years should be marked as a concern.  Furthermore, document every commercial license necessary on the website so you have a written list of licenses you should be paying for and have the appropriate budget in place.  This process aids in streamlining your site, ensuring that only essential and up-to-date extensions are active, thereby enhancing site functionality and security.   

WooCommerce

For those of you running an e-commerce WordPress website, your site is likely powered by WooCommerce or short, Woo.  E-commerce sites add complexity to WordPress sites so review your shipping, taxes, payment gateways, search, checkout and any other potential bottlenecks or points of failure. Consider what anti-fraud tools you have in place and how you are protecting your site against spam orders as well.

SEO Audit

An SEO audit forms a crucial part of any WordPress website audit, focusing on optimizing your site’s visibility and ranking on search engines. This phase of the audit WordPress process examines various elements critical to SEO success.  Tools such as Moz or SEMRush can provide comprehensive information on your website’s current SEO health.  These tools can be linked to Google Analytics and Google Search Console for more insights.   If you have not set up Google Analytics (or Google Tag Manager), this website tracking tool should be immediately configured as it is the industry standard tools for traffic and user behavior analysis for both large and small WordPress websites.

On-Page SEO

The foundation of on-page SEO includes optimizing titles, meta descriptions, header tags, and content. These components should contain relevant keywords, accurately describe page content, and engage readers right from the search results. WordPress website audit also allows you to identify and fix broken internal and external links, maintaining a healthy link profile and ensuring a seamless navigational experience for users.

Site Structure and Navigation

A user-friendly site architecture benefits not just your visitors but also significantly impacts your SEO. An intuitive structure allows search engines to crawl and index your site more effectively, which can improve your rankings. Reviewing your site’s navigation and hierarchy during a WordPress website audit ensures that users and search engines can easily find and access information.

Keyword Performance

Effective keyword strategy is pivotal for SEO success. Tools like Google’s Keyword Planner offer insights into how your current keywords are performing and identify new keyword opportunities. Incorporating this analysis into your WordPress website audit helps refine your SEO strategy, ensuring your content aligns with what your audience is searching for and enhancing your site’s visibility.

Marketing Tools

Review your website for tools to assist with the marketing objectives on your website, from newsletter integrations to improving checkout when the website is built on WooCommerce.   Also consider how important social media needs to be to your overall website strategy.

Content Audit

A content audit is a pivotal aspect of any WordPress website audit, aimed at evaluating the effectiveness of all published content in terms of quality, relevance, and engagement. This step in the audit WordPress process involves a meticulous review to ensure that each piece of content aligns with your audience’s interests and search intent.  Use this opportunity to also weed out unnecessary published or draft content, menus items and ensure the site is fully organized properly.

Content Gap and Opportunities

By conducting keyword research and competitor analysis, you can uncover areas where your site may be lacking informative or engaging content. This insight allows you to strategize new topics that cater to your audience’s needs and interests, positioning your site as a valuable resource.

Duplicate Content

Duplicate content can dilute your SEO efforts and confuse search engines about which pages to rank. Tools such as Copyscape or Siteliner can help detect instances of content repetition, enabling you to rectify these issues promptly. Tackling this aspect ensures your WordPress website audit leads to a unique, authoritative site that stands out in search engine results.

User Experience (UX) Audit

This phase of the audit WordPress project focuses on how users interact with your site, emphasizing the ease of navigation and the user’s ability to find information swiftly. Google Analytics can provide valuable data on user flow and behavior, indicating potential areas of friction.

Call-to-actions (CTA) are the driving force behind user conversions, making their visibility and appeal crucial. Tools like Hotjar can be used to analyze CTA performance, offering insights into how users engage with these elements. A WordPress website audit that scrutinizes CTA metrics helps in fine-tuning their placement and messaging to boost conversion rates.

Incorporating feedback and surveys gathers direct insights from users about their experience on your site. This feedback is invaluable for identifying UX issues that might not be apparent through analytics alone. Leveraging user feedback ensures that your site is not only functional but also user-centric and engaging.

Reporting and Creating an Action Plan

Your report should clearly outline identified issues and opportunities for improvement, ensuring that each element of the audit—from technical to content and UX—is documented in an organized fashion. This organization aids in comprehensively understanding the audit’s outcomes.

Prioritizing actions based on the urgency and impact of the findings is a critical next step. High-impact issues that affect site performance or security should be addressed first, followed by optimizations that can enhance SEO, content quality, and user experience. This ensures a systematic and effective response to the audit WordPress process.

An actionable plan must consider the scope of work and available resources, allowing for practical deadlines that ensure steady progress without overwhelming your team. A well-structured timeline facilitates the smooth execution of improvements identified during the WordPress website audit, leading to enhanced site performance and user satisfaction.

Trust Inspry With Your WordPress Audit

Conducting a WordPress site audit is crucial for maintaining an optimal online presence, ensuring your site performs smoothly across all fronts—from technical to content and UX. Trust Inspry to conduct your WordPress website audit; our expertise creates a custom analysis with actionable insights, paving the way for enhanced site performance and user engagement. Turn to Inspry for a comprehensive WordPress audit that propels your site forward.

Matt Schwartz is an accomplished entrepreneur and technology expert based in Atlanta, Georgia. He is the founder and CEO of Inspry, a WordPress and WooCommerce web development and maintenance web agency that has been providing cutting-edge technology solutions to clients since 2011. With over a decade of experience in the industry, Matt has become a respected figure in the web development community and has helped numerous businesses achieve their digital goals.