How to Conduct a Website Audit — and Why Your Lab Needs One
If you recently created or revamped your water lab website, or if it's been around for years, now's a good time to evaluate its performance. By conducting a website audit, you can improve the experience that clients and prospects have with your site in a profound way and, in turn, bring more value to your business.
A streamlined website can encourage more users to stick around to learn about your lab and its services. It's also key to gaining customer trust. But what's the best way to go about a website audit? And why do you need one?
- Conducting a website audit is key to determining if you're putting your best foot forward with prospective clients.
- Take time to prioritize search engine optimization but also to reassess if your content speaks to users of all levels of interest.
- Prioritize efforts to improve lead generation, user experience, and the technical quality of your site based on your audit's results.
Why Should Water Labs Conduct a Website Audit?
If visitors arrive on your website and then flee almost immediately, you're not providing a high-quality user experience — which can cost you. We no longer live in the age where positive word-of-mouth is enough to sustain a business. Today, websites are the primary way water labs promote their services to the public. As such, they need to be easy to use and engaging. So how do you know if yours is doing the trick?
Consider tapping long-time customers for honest feedback on your site. You can also bring in volunteers to rate their experience. This way, you get a fresh perspective on what works and what doesn't. Take into consideration any in-house feedback, too, as the employees who use the website regularly may already have ideas on how to improve it.
Essential Elements of a Website Audit
There's a lot of information on the web about how to — and why you should — perform an audit for search engine optimization (SEO). But to do a truly comprehensive assessment, you'll need to look at more than how just your website uses keywords and key phrases. A website audit for water labs should include SEO, user experience, lead generation, and technical quality.
1. Content and SEO
People come to your site for information on your services, pricing, and matters critical to them, such as the importance of well water testing and the risks of PFAS. Make sure all of the content you're providing is related to the interests, questions, and needs of the customers you serve — whether they're governmental, industry, commercial, or residential.
Identify outdated content or information that doesn't speak to your audience anymore. Consider taking them down or update the content. A contract writer, someone who has expertise in producing content for the web and optimizing for SEO, can rejuvenate these pieces or write additional content to take their place. For the content that's still relevant, be sure it includes a call to action (CTA) — a prompt that gets users to further engage with the content, such as by downloading a report or requesting a consultation. Through CTAs, water labs get contact information for visitors who may be interested in their services, making outreach efforts much more direct.
An audit for SEO can take anywhere from two to six weeks to complete, Three Deep Marketing estimates, which is key to keep in mind as you set aside resources for this project. Also, study up on best practices for SEO and implement these learnings going forward. The Moz SEO Learning Center offers excellent resources on everything from how to use keywords organically in titles and headers to what image alt text is and why it matters.
2. User Experience
It should be easy for users to find exactly what they're looking for on your website. This starts with having an easy-to-navigate, straightforward design that uses consistent elements — e.g., logos, colors, banners, and headings. If users can't find what they're looking for quickly, they're likely to abandon your site; or, worse, do business with another lab.
Keep it simple and don't confuse them with tons of ads, links, and buttons that detract from their experience. Include a CTA and your lab's contact information near the top of the screen so users can easily reach out if they see something that piques their interest. Finally, check that your website works on every device, from desktops and laptops to tablets and cellphones.
3. Lead Generation
Does your website attract potential clients — or, in marketing lingo, generate leads? Look at how users are interacting with your site, using either internal analytics or Google Analytics, to identify key ways in which you can improve your pages.
For example, are people exiting certain pages within seconds but sticking around on others for the long haul? By identifying those winning pages, you can repurpose this information in new marketing efforts such as newsletters or social media posts. Additionally, by pinpointing pages that are a bust, you can decide if they need to be updated or simply removed altogether.
Your website should also speak to users at different stages of interest, from those just discovering your lab to clients who've done business with you for years. To satisfy this, you'll want to offer both a wide array of content on higher-level topics, such as information on your services and key regulation updates, and general interest pieces, such as articles on the symptoms of Legionnaire's disease.
4. Technical Quality
Your audit should also measure how well your website is working overall. Do visitors frequently see error messages on your homepage? Are pages taking forever to load? Take this opportunity to improve the technical quality of your website.
If you don't feel you can make an accurate assessment of performance indicators, like loading speed or display quality, call in an expert to help. Then, have your IT team begin working on these issues, calling in web design experts if necessary. Your website is a worthy investment and should reflect the quality of your lab's work, after all, so you'll want to prioritize technical optimization.
Interpreting the Results
Once you've conducted your audit, you need to prioritize where to spend your efforts. Remember your goal: To get prospects and customers to visit and engage with your site, ask for more information, and ultimately hire you for water testing. With that in mind, here's how to determine where to start:
- If you get no visitors, your SEO needs work immediately.
- If visitors quickly leave, your user experience needs work first.
- If visitors stay but not for long, your content needs to be reassessed.
- If visitors engage with your content but don't respond to CTAs, you need to make this language more enticing.
When your website provides a top-notch user experience, you're much more likely to have a steady stream of visitors who become customers. Aim to perform an audit at least quarterly for the best results.