Why it’s time to audit your WordPress Website
Performing an audit of your WordPress website will allow you to ensure that your website is working as expected, and provide you with a suggestion on how to address any elements of your website that may need to be improved.
Consider an audit of your website as being similar to most maintenance of any other resource, such as a car or a house. Ongoing care and maintenance will help you to make sure that your resource is running well, and make any unexpected surprises much less likely. If something does go wrong with your website, the work that you’ve undertaken on your WordPress website audit will make it much easier for you to go and fix.
Ongoing maintenance and development of your website are important. Not least does it allow you to ensure that you can get more from your website, but also for the people who are visiting your site. Ongoing maintenance provides technical support and updates to make sure that the technical elements of your website are working as expected. We’d also suggest that ongoing development and updates to content are important to ensure that your website contains the information that you want your visitors to find, in a way that is easy to understand.
Perform an audit of your WordPress website content
One of the most obvious ways to improve your website is to do a basic content audit, to make sure that the information on your website is actually correct!
This can be achieved quite easily by exporting a list of all of the URLs on your website and designating someone to take a look over each URL to make sure that the information on each page is correct. If you operate a small website with a few pages, this should be quite a straightforward task; if you have a website with a lot of pages with different information, then it might make sense to have a few different people from your organisation to take responsibility for different parts of the website.
At Tentmaker, we can provide a couple of documents to help curate the core content of your website. Firstly we can provide a breakdown of all of the URLs currently on your WordPress website, and then we can also provide a Google Doc that we use to help list out any modifications to the content that you’d like to make. Between these two documents, it can be a fairly efficient way to ensure that all of your core content is updated on your website, providing your visitors with a more enjoyable experience.
Ongoing maintenance, backups and security
The internet doesn’t stand still, and neither should your website. Maintenance of your WordPress website is critical to ensure the health of your site and that it is continually being optimised to meet the ever-changing criteria put in place by third-party services, such as Google.
While many sites may not need a lot of modification and maintenance, all sites should be backed up and have their WordPress core, themes and plugins updated on a regular basis. Having backups of your website helps to ensure an easy (and quick) fix to your website should something go wrong.
Having an ongoing maintenance package is also a useful reminder to take a look at your site frequently, reducing the need for a more intensive audit of your WordPress website. Ongoing maintenance and updates help to determine what may or may not be working for your specific needs.
If you don’t currently have a maintenance plan in place for your website, we’d recommend having one set up.
SEO (search engine optimization) can often be the difference between a good website and a great website. When search engines show your website in search results to users, they drive traffic towards your website. An increase in web traffic will hopefully then turn your visitors into performing whatever objective you would hope them to, whether that’s supporters who are more engaged with your cause, or website visitors who become customers.
The process of search engine optimisation isn’t simply a one-off task. Instead, it’s the cumulative effort of lots of ongoing tasks, all being undertaken to help increase the likelihood of search engines ranking your website in the various forms of listings that show when a user types in a query into a search engine.
An audit of your WordPress website for SEO would include trying to define which search terms you would like your website to rank for, and looking at opportunities of how you can modify your website to rank for those keywords.
It’s important to note that search engines show results to people in different ways. Having an ongoing search strategy is a key part of any website that wants to make the most of search engine ranking.
Updating your website theme will ensure that you have the most up-to-date version of your site theme, which will provide you with improved functionality and an extra layer of up to data security on your website.
It’s important to know when to update a theme, and when it might make sense to hold off for a few days. It’s possible that an update to your theme may not work well with updates to your plugins or other elements on your website, so major updates are usually worth thinking about carefully before you update.
Like updates to the WordPress core and plugins, theme updates should always be applied after a backup has been made, and usually always on a copy of your website – such as a staging site – or a localised development version of your website.
In auditing your WordPress website, it’s worth considering if your theme is still the best available theme for your website, and checking that you don’t have too many additional themes in your themes folder. Having one additional theme is always a good idea to allow you to troubleshoot your website if required, but the in-built WordPress health check will tell you if you have too many themes in use on your site.
Like your theme, your plugins will have periodic updates to reflect changes in functionality or performance of each specific plugin. Plugins should therefore be updated regularly but, as with your theme updates, you should always have a backup of your website before you perform updates.
When auditing your WordPress website you should also review if you still need all of the plugins in use on your website, and have a detailed understanding of what each plugin is doing. There are always new plugins being added to the WordPress repository, so there will inevitably be new functions that you might want to consider adding to your website or updating existing functionality on new plugins.
Contact forms are one of the most critical parts of how you can audit your WordPress website, as they help to ensure the ability for your site visitors to get in touch with you, and for you in turn to be able to help with their enquiry. Whatever website you are running, it’s likely that you will want visitors to be able to contact you or respond to the information on your website. A good contact form is a critical part of that.
Many WordPress websites will have a basic contact form, but additional functionality can be added to your website by using a premium plugin to adapt the contact form to suit your needs. We currently use WPMU Dev’s Forminator Pro for many of our websites, in addition to Ninja Forms. We’d also recommend Gravity Forms and Caldera Forms, depending on what specific needs you may have for your website contact forms.
To make the most of your website contact forms, it’s important to check regularly that your forms are working properly and that form submissions are sending correctly. To give extra peace of mind, you can set your contact form to do a couple of extra things when a user submits a form:
- Send a copy of the submitted form to the recipient. That may seem straightforward, but it’s worth checking that this is happening as intended periodically. There may also be reasons to update the email address that the forms should be submitted to, or to add additional recipients, depending on your own needs.
- Send a copy of the submitted form to the user making the submission. This is a useful way to give peace of mind to your website users that the form has definitely sent, and to show them that you are taking your form submissions seriously.
- Store a copy on the backend of your website. By storing a copy of your form on the backend of the website, you have an extra layer of peace of mind that forms are submitting as you intended. Should you have issues with email, you’ll still be able to access your form submissions, meaning you won’t miss out on any critical data.
Having a website that loads quickly is not just an enjoyable experience for your visitors, but it’s also an important ranking factor of how search engines assess your website.
The speed of your website can be determined by a variety of factors, such as your web hosting, how the site has been built, and how the different elements of your website are interacting with each other.
Speeding up your website is an important part of optimising your website. Options on how to speed up your website should be undertaken when undertaking an audit of your WordPress website.
How often should you audit your WordPress website?
Setting a timescale of auditing your website will usually depend on each website, but it would make sense to have a target of how often you’d like to audit your WordPress website as part of your ongoing marketing or administrative workload.
For smaller websites, a yearly audit and review may suffice. For larger websites – especially websites with multiple custom functions or ecommerce capabilities – it would make sense to audit more frequently, or to have tests run on some of the functions of your website on a regular basis.
Ongoing maintenance contracts are worth having on your website as a way of ensuring that there are always ‘eyes’ on your website and that updates to the core elements of your website are being undertaken.
It’s also likely that for certain elements of your website, a more detailed audit of your website would be useful on a periodic basis. This is especially true for websites that would like to increase their search engine ranking.
Get help to audit your WordPress Website
If you’re looking for help to make more of your WordPress website, we’d be happy to help.
We offer ongoing WordPress maintenance to clients to help them make more of their websites, or we can offer more information on our next-level WordPress and how to make improvements to get more from your WordPress website.
We’d be happy to provide you with more information if you need it, keep on scrolling to the contact form below!