If you’ve been looking for a comprehensive blog audit how-to guide and blog audit checklist, then you’re in the right place!
Are you a blogger struggling to increase your website traffic and engagement? You feel like you’re doing everything right, but your growth seems to have a hit a plateau and you’re not sure what to do next?
Or maybe you’re new to blogging, and just have no idea of where to start when it comes to improving your traffic stats.
Either way, a blog audit and personalized success plan from Next Level Blogging can help!
What Is A Blog Audit?
Think of a blog audit as an in-depth review of the different components of your website that impact a desired result.
I know that’s not a cut and dry definition, but there really isn’t a one-size fits all definition of a blog audit.
So that being said, this article is all about how I perform a blog audit, both for my own websites and those of my clients.
I’ve even created a handy Blog Audit Checklist, which you can download for free, to help you perform your own blog audit instead of hiring a pro.
You might be saying “Why in the world is Angel telling me how to perform my own blog audit?”
After all, I usually charge clients $200 for a complete blog audit, and that’s just for a basic WordPress website. There’s money to be made, but I’m just going to give away my method for free??
Yep. I sure am.
No, I’m not going out of business. No, I haven’t lost my mind (well, maybe, but that’s neither here nor there).
I’m sharing this because I’m committed to helping you build a successful blog.
I’ve learned that the more knowledge I share for free, the more likely you are to call me when you are ready to work with a pro. You’ll already know that I’m going to get you results.
I also know some of you may not have the extra money right now to hire a pro. I sure didn’t when I started my first blog.
So, I’m not going to give you half of the info and try to sell you the rest, or make you spend countless hours searching for info in bits and pieces across the Blogosphere.
That’s just not how I roll. I give you all the goods in one post.
Quick Note: When I got to this point in writing this post, I went off on a serious tangent about why “I don’t roll like that”. I decided to turn it into an entirely new post, because it’s my story – why I started blogging, why I started coaching, why I try to really keep it frickin’ real with you. It matters – but I didn’t want to go too far off topic for this post. If you’re curious, watch for it later this month.
I’m going to give you the information you need so that you can perform your own blog audit.
Then, I’ll explain why you should hire me to perform your blog audit instead. Yep, I’m going to self-promote a little bit, but I always make it worth your while, a.k.a. an exclusive deal 🙂
Back to the blog audit stuff.
Why Do You Need A Blog Audit?
If you’re passionate about building a successful blog, you should be doing something every single day to make your blog better.
As you’re implementing changes and new content, you and your blog are constantly evolving. Conducting a blog audit will insure that your website is at peak performance for your readers.
An audit of your blog will help you
- get more traffic to your blog
- get more engagement with your website and blog content
- get you more email subscribers
At least, that’s what my version of a blog audit is designed to do.
You need a blog audit to help you identify what’s working for you, but more importantly, to find out what’s not working so you can fix it.
Your Google analytics contain a wealth of information about your blog and it’s popularity.
You do not have to guess about how many people are visiting your website or how they were referred to your blog. Your analytics will tell you.
Your analytics can also provide valuable information for your blog audit, as well.
Find what’s working
Review your analytics over the last 30 days (or 60 if you don’t publish content weekly) and ask these questions
- Are there days that your traffic spiked?
- What are your most popular blog posts?
- Where is most of your traffic coming from?
Your analytics also tell you how many website visits and page views your blog has received, as well as what your bounce rates are.
With the help of your analytics, you can determine what was different on those days that you saw a spike in traffic:
- Did you publish a new post?
- Did you go extra hard with your Pinterest pinning?
- Did your spikes happen on one particular day of the week?
Do some research and find out what your blog’s busiest days have in common.
That’s what you’re doing right.
Find what’s not working
Performing a blog audit is a quality-control check for your blog, so you definitely want to find what’s not working.
Before you even dive deeper into the blog audit, use your Google analytics to help you determine what’s not working, too. Consider these questions:
- Where are you spending your time, and maybe your money, promoting your blog and brand? Are your Referral Source stats matching up to your efforts?
- What’s different about the most popular post, in comparison to the other posts published that month?
Download my free Blog Audit Worksheet to keep track of what you’re learning and perform your own blog audit!
As you can see, it’s important to consult your Google analytics when performing an internal blog audit. So, if you’re not familiar with your analytics, put that on your short-term to-do list.
How Can A Blog Audit Help You?
When clients come to me for a blog audit, their goals are fairly common.
They want more blog traffic, more engagement with their website and blog content, and more email sign up conversions. I think we all can relate to that, right?
Just a quick public service announcement: A blog audit and personalized success plan will not get you the same results as one-on-one coaching sessions with me. It just won’t.
Coaching is much more effective for getting long-term results for your blog because I walk you through everything, and you actually learn the exact methods and strategies that take you from a hobby blogger to a pro.
That being said, a thorough blog audit can be a valuable tool if you’re not in a position to commit to one-on-one coaching.
By performing a blog audit, you can create a plan-of-action that will get you more traffic, more post engagement and more email sign ups.
Before You Begin
Before getting started on your blog audit, it’s important to be prepared. This can sometime’s feel like a daunting task, so don’t try to do it on the fly. Here are some suggestions that will make your blog audit more productive:
- You want to make sure that you set aside a couple of hours so that you can be as thorough as possible. Take your time.
- Have a pen and notebook ready so you can write down your ideas and the problems that you find during your audit.
- Download my free Blog Audit Workbook, which will help guide you through the process and help you organize your information. The workbook also lists the different items that you might want to include in your blog audit, in case you don’t know where to start.
- Conduct your blog audit from the perspective of someone visiting your website for the very first time. Use an incognito tab in your browser, so that you get the “new user” experience.
The Three Phase Review
When you perform your blog audit, you’ll want to do it in three phases. This is the process I use for every blog audit I perform, whether it’s for myself or a client.
The first phase of your blog audit is to analyze your Home Page. This step is one of the hardest when conducting your own audit.
You have to get really honest with yourself about your own short-comings as a web designer.
Don’t be too hard on yourself, though! After all, this is probably the first website you’ve ever built, so YAY YOU!!
But, for the sake of your blog audit, try to pretend your website belongs to someone else and you just stumbled upon it for the first time.
Gain Some Perspective
Before you start your audit, choose a few of your favorite bloggers that cover similar topics. Be sure to choose established bloggers that are popular in your niche.
Visit their websites and pay attention to their layout, what appears on their home page, what stands out and grabs your attention.
No, this isn’t to make you feel like you suck. Nor is it a suggestion that you should copy what they’re doing.
Just try to be mindful of the elements that stand out and what their websites have in common.
What To Review
Now that you have an idea of how your website should be laid out and flow, open an incognito browser and type in your blog’s URL – be sure to start at your Home Page.
Now, with your feelings turned off, look at your website.
After looking at those other websites in your niche, how does yours stack up?
This is not the time to make excuses or to say it’s “good enough”. This is about what you can add, change, improve or remove from your Home Page to make it as appealing as possible.
The Home Page of your website must accomplish one task – to collect the user’s email address. Everything you add to your Home Page should support that one goal or it’s useless.
When someone visits your website for the first time and they land on your Home Page, you ultimately want to accomplish one goal.
You want to capture their email address.
More than anything else, you want to capture the visitor’s email address. That way, you establish a connection and keep them engaging with your content, week after week.
If a visitor comes to your website and doesn’t give up their email address, it’s highly unlikely that they will ever visit your website again.
So, use your Home Page to make it crystal clear how your blog is going to make their life better, and why joining your email list is the best idea since sliced bread.
Here’s what your Home page should have, at bare minimum, no matter what niche you’re in:
- A CTA (call-to-action) in the middle of the screen, plain as day, as soon as your visitor hits your page. They should not have to scroll to see it.
- The name of your blog.
- A short paragraph about why they need your content and how their lives will be different as a result of your content.
- A navigation menu that directs them to the most important pages of your website.
- Do not include pages in your menu that have no content yet! If you have a “Recipes” link in your menu, it should link to recipes – not a blank page. It’s annoying and it’s a let down, and will not earn you any brownie points with a first-time visitor.
- A clear instruction of what the visitor should do next.
- Social media follow buttons.
Erin at Sincerely Erin hits the mark with her Home Page as seen below.
Although this isn’t a post about building the perfect Home Page, in order to audit your own website you need to know what you should be looking for.
You don’t want your blog posts on your Home Page. You don’t want to distract from the goal of the page – collect an email address.
Add a link in your top menu for “Blog” and visitors will know where to find your most recent posts.
If your Home page is missing some or all of those items, be sure to take note of what you are missing, so you can address it later.
Next, click on all of the links on your Home Page to confirm that the links aren’t broken and that they link to the correct content. Be sure to check:
- Menu and sub-menu links
- Sidebar links
- Footer links
- Call-to-action links
- Your contact form
- Your social media follow buttons
- Your social media share buttons
Now, in phase two of your blog audit, you want to review the aesthetic of your website and make sure your branding is consistent on all pages.
If you haven’t done so yet, choose a color palette for your blog that reflects your blog’s brand. You only need two or three colors and black and white.
There are a few very cool websites that will help you choose a color palette that you love:
- Coolors.co – Their free color palette generator is free, and will suggest different palettes for you to choose from.
- Canva – This is my favorite free design tool and their color palette generator lets you upload a photo to create a coordinated palette. This is helpful if you already have a logo designed and want to match your website to your logo.
- Color Space – This free color palette generator lets you enter one color that you love, then generates a palette of complimentary colors.
Your palette should include two complimentary colors and one contrasting color.
Here’s my color palette, which was created with Canva’s palette generator tool. I uploaded my logo and the generator created a perfect palette for my website.
Once you’ve chosen and implemented your palette into your website, verify that it’s consistent on all of your pages.
When conducting this phase, it’s a good idea to refer back to those other blogger’s websites that you pulled up earlier. Notice again how cohesive their brand is.
Is your branding up to the same standard? If not, what can you do to fix it?
You also want to review all of the images placed across your website. Are they proportionate to the context? Are all images high-quality and crisp?
Using amateur photos and blurry images can cause just as much damage to the reputation you are trying to build as writing crappy content.
Did you know that your image sizes and quality can slow your website down significantly? Conducting an image audit is an essential part of a thorough blog audit.
- Remove unused images. Go through your media library and remove images that aren’t being used. A lot of free themes and page templates automatically add images to your library that you will never use. Get rid of them.
- Compress images. Install and run a free image optimization plugin like WP Smush. You can reduce the size of images and speed up your website with just a few clicks.
Phase Three of the blog audit is a review of your blog content. If you have too many posts to go through individually, review at minimum your
- 5 most popular posts
- 5 most recent posts
- the first 5 posts ever published
Auditing your early posts is imperative, since we tend to get better as we go. Those early posts probably need your attention in a very bad way.
If you’re not writing quality content, visitors won’t be coming back.
Review your chosen posts individually, again from the perspective of a website visitor. You should check the following for each post that you audit:
- Every link and image leads to the appropriate content when clicked
- At least two internal links to relevant content included
- A content upgrade and two CTA’s to capture email address
- Social sharing buttons are included and link to appropriate platform
- The blog title has a score of 72 or better in CoSchedule’s free Headline Analyzer
- Long-form content with at least 2,000 words
- Optimized for search engines with relevant keywords in the:
- first paragraph of post
- sprinkled throughout the content
- image descriptions
It’s also a good idea to run the spelling and grammar check for each post, just in case you forgot to do so when the post was published.
Relevant Post: A Blogger’s Guide To Writing Epic Blog Posts Every Time
When writing long-form content, it’s important to make sure that your post is easy for readers to scan. You don’t want to discourage readers by making it hard to pick up on key points.
Your blog post formats should:
- Use a standard and large font (18px)
- For best results, use black text on a white background
- 1 -3 sentence paragraphs, with a space between paragraphs
- Use relevant images to break up large sections of text
- Include headings and subheading to organize information
- Use bullet points and numbered lists to highlight key takeaways
Content Is King
Keep in mind that your website visitor is looking for valuable information on your topic.
By providing quality content every time, you will set yourself apart from the competition and build a reputation as a trusted expert in your field.
If you slack on content and write short crappy posts about a product, hoping for an affiliate sale, you are wasting your time.
Not only will you disappoint your reader and lose the sale, you’ll tarnish your reputation and drive away website visitors.
Provide valuable, quality content first, then add your affiliate links into your posts where they make sense.
The more traffic you can drive to your website, the more successful you will be with affiliate sales.
If you really want to learn how to start earning money with your blog, I can help you create strategies that will help you build a profitable blog faster, as your coach. Learn more here.
Related Post: 13 Reasons You Should Hire A Blogging Coach
As you can imagine, conducting a thorough blog audit takes time and patience, but also requires excellent organization skills and attention to detail.
The key factor to performing a blog audit on your own successfully, is having enough experience and knowledge to recognize what’s missing from your website.
If you’re ready for the challenge, you’re now prepared to perform a blog audit of your own.
Hiring A Pro
Hiring a blogging coach is one of the best investments you can make if you’re determined to build a successful and profitable blog.
You’ll save yourself a ton of time and aggravation of trying to figure things out on your own.
With one-on-one coaching, we’ll work at your pace, and create personalized strategies that are going to get you more traffic, more engagement and more subscribers.
But, if you’re still looking for some guidance without the time and financial commitment involved with coaching, a Blog Audit With Personalized Success Plan from Next Level Blogging can also help you get results at a fraction of the cost.
As a special Thank You for reading this post, you can purchase a Blog Audit With Personalized Success Plan now for just $95. That’s over 50% off of the regular price of $200.
To get yours now, click here and use code AUDIT95 at checkout to get your savings. You’ll get your results and Personalized Success Plan in 1-3 business days.
Have you performed your own blog audit in the past? Were you surprised with the results? Leave your answer or other feedback on this post in the comments section below.
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You’re the best!