How to perform an in-depth WordPress website audit

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As an agency that builds websites exclusively on WordPress, we know a thing or two (quite a lot actually) about the CMS, how it works, and most importantly, how well it can be optimised. So if you’re looking for a proper WordPress website audit for your site, you can run through this guide to learn more about your Website’s performance.

We’ll take you through basic and advanced auditing, making sure you know what each step means for your website and how you can make notes to improve.

  1. A thorough look through

It’s a good idea to start with a general browse through the website to spot any errors, display issues, or navigation issues. Try clicking links on the pages and see if they all work. 

During this general look through, I like to look for at least a privacy policy linked in the footer, but it’s definitely a bonus to see a cookie policy, terms of services, terms and conditions, or a sitemap linked. 

As a business website, I look objectively as “what action should the website want a user to take?”. For eCommerce sites I’ll be looking for product pages with clean buy or add to basket buttons, good quality product images, and a security certificate. I would expect an SSL security certificate to appear on any kind of website where data is passed – this includes contact forms.

To see if your website is secure and has an SSL installed you can look at the URL address bar at the top of the web browser here:

Don’t panic if you’re not seeing a secure website, this just means you don’t have an SSL installed and should think about getting one to protect your users data – and avoid being easily hacked! Here’s a how-to on sorting out your SSL.

Another basic check I’d group here is checking for duplicate or copied content. There’s plenty of tools you can use to check web pages for copied content. Having plagiarised content can hurt organic search engine rankings for your website, so it’s an important check + it’s easy these plagiarism checkers will do the work for you. 

  1. Security

Following on from the SSL we mentioned, we’d place security pretty high on our list of priorities – as I’m sure you would too. Things to look out for here include having the latest version of WordPress and the latest version for plug-ins you have installed.

Finding this info is easy in the backend of your WordPress site. Once logged in to the admin area your dashboard should show a box called “At a glance”, in which your version of WordPress will be shown alongside an “update to …” button if you’re not rocking the latest version. 

To check the version of your plug-ins you should see a vertical tab on the left side of the admin area for “Plugins”, where a yellow box will appear under plugins that need updating to latest versions. 

  1. Clutter

A quick audit of the backend/admin area of your WordPress site will show any unnecessary files or assets you have running that you might not be using or know about. 

After our initial thorough look through of the entire website, we may have noted a limited number of images or videos used. We’ll then check these images against the amount found in the media library, just to make sure there aren’t thousands of unused images sitting in the backend of your website, as we’d like to keep things lean. 

Next, take a browse through pages and posts, are any still drafts that have never been published? This would be considered unnecessary. Whilst here, we’d look at the published dates just to note when content was last updated, as this can show a stagnant website that could have outdated content.

By default, WordPress might have a small selection of themes pre-installed but not activated under Appearance > Themes. We recommend deleting any not in use as these bloat your website’s file size.

  1. Indexing

Another area we look at is the presence of the website on search engines; Primarily Google. To find all the web pages Google has on your website you can add “site:” followed by your domain name into Google Search. Provided you typed it correctly, obvious issues here would be no pages showing, which would mean your website isn’t on Google (and it should be). 

Google Search Console is where your website is managed on Google so this is where you’d need to check for issues under coverage like the screenshot below:

The most common issue if nothing is showing is your site being blocked by robots. This means you’ve requested web crawlers like Google not to crawl your website – which means they can’t see your content. A simple fix is by going to the backend of your WordPress website, Settings > Reading and ensuring the following checkbox isn’t ticked.

Turning back to Google Search Console, just check your sitemap has been submitted by going to Sitemaps. This ensures Google knows about all the pages on your website from this one sitemap link.

  1. Speed

Some agencies use Google’s PageSpeed Insights – we prefer using GTmetrix, purely because there’s more information to go off when looking to diagnose issues (and it uses PageSpeed AND yslow data anyway). 

Simply plug in your domain name into the analysis tool and it’ll give you in-depth answers along with actionable recommendations. 

As you can see, our suggestion is for using browser caching, we already have a few layers of caching via some plugins we have installed, so we don’t see the need for this. Just be aware you may need to take some results with a pinch of salt as not all data using these tools is accurate.

If you click on the waterfall tab of gtmetrix you’ll most likely see a lot of images being the cause for load – these tend to be the largest file sizes so are well worth optimising/compressing. If this hasn’t been done on your website then make a note that images need compressing.

  1. Technical issues

A tool we often use for this technical stage is Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider. Even if you’re not bothered about SEO, this tool gives easy access to viewing error codes for links on your website, as well as duplicate heading, titles, descriptions and more. They have some great guides for using the tool here

Auditing these with these 6 focuses will give you a comprehensive insight into the build and performance of your website. If you have a WordPress website that you want auditing professionally then get in touch with us at Creative Asset, we’re WordPress specialists

how to audit a wordpress website

Adam Cook