Podcast Episode

477 – Site Audit Checklist for your WordPress Site


Is there a plugin for that?

With more than 50,000 plugins in the WordPress repository, it’s hard to find the perfect one. Each week, I will highlight an interesting plugin form the repository.

For more great plugins, download my 50 Most Useful Plugins eBook.

Emoji Conbini makes your WordPress site at least 5000% more fun by adding an emoji picker to the block editor.

Site Audit Checklist for your WordPress Site

For our audit and checklist, we organized the task into the following categories:

  • Design
  • Content
  • WordPress Settings
  • Functionality
  • SEO
  • Legal
  • Security
  • Maintenance

Please note that this checklist is not meant to be a perfect fit for all websites. But rather an outline that you can use and adapt to your needs. A good quality control needs to be constantly improved!

Thank You!

Thank you to those who use my affiliate links. As you know I make a small commission when someone uses my link and I want to say thank you to the following people. For all my recommended resources, go to my Resources Page

Full Transcript

Business Transcription is provided by GMR Transcription.

On today’s episode, I’ve got a big list of things that we can do to audit a website. And that’s a website that we just launched or a website that’s been working for a long time. Let’s take a look at some of these things right here, early in 2020 to make sure that our websites are functioning at their peaks, right here on “Your Website Engineer” podcast, Episode No. 477. Hello and welcome to another of “Your Website Engineer” podcast. My name is Dustin Hartzler and today I am excited to be with you and bringing you another episode. As I was thinking about this show, it was one of those things that I was just siting and relaxing and trying to run through my head all of things that I need to do on a website for my wife. And I’ve talked about this show – on the show. A few months ago when we launched this website for some functional medicine trainings, some CE – some continuing education credit for pharmacists in the area, and we’re running – our next conference is happening at the end of February.

So, I’m just thinking through the list and trying to brainstorm it. “Okay, what can I add?” and there’s, “Oh, the product pages. Oh, I don’t like the way those look, and I wanna re do those. And I wanna make sure that –” all of these things were coming into my head. And I thought, “Well, wait a minute. Why don’t we just put together kind of a big overarching list of things to look at when we’re doing a site audit?” And this can for, like I said, websites that work well, that are launched and have been running for years, or it can be brand new sites, or maybe you're trying to acquire a new client, and you just wanna do a site audit as a general – kinda get to know the website and see what’s going on. So, we’ll talk about that in just a couple minutes. I do one-ish small announcement, and it’s not even an announcement, but let’s go ahead and say what it is. It’s Matt Mullenweg.

He posted just a few days ago that he turned 36. And so, he is more than – entering the late 30’s. And that’s kinda sad because I’m also – I’m 35. I turn 36 in March. And so, while not nearly as successful monetarily as Matt Mullenweg, I appreciate these posts every single year, and just kinda see where he’s gone and how much he’s traveled. And it’s probably something I should do myself, just so I can look back year after year. Matt’s been doing it since his 19th birthday, and so if you wanna see all the posts there, head on over to – there’s a show notes to take you right to the “36” article. And then, at the bottom, it has got links to all the previous years where you can read and find out more about what’s been happening in his life for the last 15 or so years.

And then, the other thing that I wanna share with – since there isn’t a lot of announcements, there’s not a lot going on, it is cold outside, if you live in the Northern Hemisphere away from the Equator, and – you may want to just try to level up some of your skills and just try and get back into the community a bit. And I just wanted to recommend just heading over to WordPress.tv and just learn a little bit about WordPress. The first video that I see today as I’m recording this is “The History of WordPress (in four minutes),” and it is a WordCamp presentation from Sevilla. There’s tons of WordCamp presentations. I bet you could spend hundreds of hours just watching content on that website. So, if you need a little boost of energy or you want to learn something new, I recommend WordPress.tv today. And then, the other thing that I always share at the top of the show is a plugin.

And this plugin is called Emoji Conbini, and it’s got a kind of a fun name. But basically, this is an emoji – or this will make your WordPress site at least five 500,000% more fun. That’s what they recommend. It’s a scientific fact. But basically, what that is, is it’s an emoji block editor, or it’s a feature that you could add to the block editor, that allows you to click on the little emoji icon, and then you can start typing the emoji that you want. And so, it just makes it a lot easier to add those emojis to your blog post or your pages or the content on your website. So, that’s what I wanted to share. There’s a link in the show notes for that and you can go ahead and take a look there or you can search for “Emoji Conbini”. And that is the plugin I wanna share with you today.

Okay, today, like I said, we’re gonna talk about a little bit of a checklist or a walk-through or an audit or a – give it any name that you like, but we’re basically gonna talk about when we’re getting ready to launch a website, or maybe we’ve just launched a website and we’re thinking through all of the things – a lot of time we launch things – a minimal viable product. Just get the thing out there, get it starting to work, and then we’ll run into bugs and errors and we’ll fix them as we go. Now, granted, we don’t want to keep a website in that state for a very long time because there could be a lot of things that you're manually doing. Say, for example, you don’t add a subscription feature, or you don’t add the ability to add somebody to a particular membership when they first join your site. Then, you have to go back and you have to do that over and over again. And if there’s no automated process, that could take a really long time.

But today, like I said, we’re gonna talk about a website checklist. And this is probably good that you could come up with your own checklist and just take some of these ideas. You might not have to do all of the different items that we talk about. You don't have to do everything in each of those items. But it’s basically a way to go through and talk through and just try to have a checklist and have an idea of, “Okay, I’ve checked this. Yes, that’s good.” And even with – now, with the new series shortcuts and some of the other automation tools that are out there, you can create this as a template. Project A, B, and C, they each have their own checklist, and then you can work through them at different times and what now; whichever way kind of works best for your flow and what-not. So, let’s go ahead and dive in.

The eight different areas are: design, content, WordPress settings, functionality, SEO, legal, security, and maintenance. This isn’t an exhaustive list. This is as many things as I could think of when I was coming up and putting this list together. And when it comes to design, the design list is, you need to validate your HTML markup. Make sure your cross-browser compatibility is working, it supports Legacy Browser; responsive design, add FAB icon. Again, these are all things I kind of thought of that you could do in – under this umbrella. You can also link a logo to your homepage to make sure that anybody clicks the image, it goes to their home. Check for any glitches in animations. Make sure there's not too many animations because that could be a little bit tacky. And then, make sure there’s consistency across the sites.
Make sure that the size, the font color, the padding, the borders, all that kinda stuff are all the same. They're all very, very consistent. So, that is the design bucket. The content bucket is, make sure that there's no dummy text. Make sure there’s no Lorem ipsum anywhere on your site. Proofread. Make sure that you are getting all of the grammar and spelling corrections. If you have errors, it screams unprofessional to your customers on your email list. So, worth hiring a trained expert, or even somebody that’s never seen the site before, just have them read through it. You also want to format content to make sure that your content is – it makes sense. Do you need to break things up? Do you need to put block quotes in the content? Especially on those pages where you want people to read a big, long – a lot of text, then you wanna make sure that they're broken up quite well.

Make sure that you put labels to your images with alt descriptions. That’s gonna be kinda under the SEO bucket as well. You want to make sure that internal links are broke – or not broken; they go where they're supposed to, and external links open new tabs and that nothing is broken. You wanna make sure that your downloadable files work, if you have something like that. An email, a newsletter, what-not, make sure that those work; make sure they're proofread and they're compressed in a way that they're gonna download very easily. You wanna create a 404 page to make sure that that’s built in so that if somebody lands on a page that’s not really on your site, then they can at least navigate back to the rest of your site.

And then if you’ve changed your website in any way, shape or form – maybe you’ve changed some different things – then you want to make sure that the – all the redirects are set up properly. And so, if you had an old page that was called “Today I learned” or whatever, then you wanna make sure that the new TIL page is redirecting to the right spot. So, that is all under the content section. When it comes to WordPress settings, you wanna make sure that your admin email has been updated and you can get notifications from there. Make sure the time and date – sometimes we forget to set that and then posts aren’t published at the right time and everything looks a little wonky because the time and the date and the time zone settings is set incorrectly. Make sure that the search engine visibility is turned on so that people can actually view your website and show up in search results.

Discussion settings. Make sure that you’ve turned on or off the different discussion settings that you want. Make sure the comments are only available in the places that you want and make sure that the WordPress permalinks are updated to something that’s a little bit more friendly than the WordPress default. That is the WordPress settings. Now, onto the functionality of the WordPress website. Make sure all your website forms work. So, this means you have to go in and you have to test them out and make sure that you set a response back, or if you have your form set up to say – bring a thank you email back or a thank you confirmation on the page, make sure the email actually gets to you and what not. Make sure that any of those notifications are working, so if it – you submit a form and it says, “Thank you for doing whatever,” make sure that all of that works.

You wanna test the social sharing functionality, make sure those pieces work. If somebody clicks on the Facebook button on a post, is it actually gonna post on Facebook, what does that look like. And then, plugins. Check that your installed plugins do exactly what they're supposed to do, they're configured properly, and that anything that you're not using is turned off and you've turned off and removed it from your site. You can always add plugins back if you need to add them back. All right, SEO. This is one where I don’t know a whole lot, but here’s some things on the list that – to make sure. Make sure you’ve got an SEO plugin, it’s installed, like Yoast. They’re all in one SEO pass – pack. It's got site title and taglines. We’ve got meta titles and descriptions. We’ve created a site map.

Most of the SEO plugins can do all those things. Make sure that you – we’ve got caching. You’ll speed up your website by having cache; some sort – either a caching plugin or make sure that you're using a host that does all that for you. There's file optimization, which also is filed under the caching, to make sure you're minifying the files to make them as small as possible so that they load the quickest. We also wanna compress our images. The bigger the images, the longer it takes to load. The longer it takes to load, the less likely people are gonna wait around, and then they’ll bounce. And if they're bouncing then Google doesn’t think it’s a good result, so they're gonna bring you lower on the search engine rankings. Also, we’ve got SE – or CDN, which means that you can serve your website content to people on other sides of the globe much faster. And it’s a content delivery network.

We have also got Google Webmaster Analytics. Make sure that you’ve got both of those; you’ve got the Google Webmaster tools and the analytics. And make sure that those things are built into your site. There's a little bit of tracking code that you need or an extra plugin but – to do that. Then, you put that on early so you can start tracking your site and you can see more information about your visitors. And then, you wanna make sure that your social profiles, your business listings, all your contact information, all of that stuff, it links back to your website, it’s always correct. Make sure that if you look up your company or your business on Google that the Google listing pulls up with the correct information; all that good stuff is there.

No. 6 is legal. So, we wanna make sure that we’ve got – your contact information is easily accessible and mandatory, if it’s in a certain country. We wanna make sure that you have the necessary license for plugins or fonts or images or themes; make sure that those are added to your site. Make sure you’ve got a copyright symbol on your website where applicable. The privacy policy, it’s often required by law. It’s to inform your visitors about the data you're collecting. Any terms and conditions. If you are – it’s some sort of financial transaction, you might – must have terms and conditions on there. And it’s an important document, so you might wanna check with legal to make sure that all things are good there.

If you're using cookies, the EU Cookie Warning is mandatory, and so you have to have a little notification saying that you are enabling cookies and that you are tracking information about them on the website. And then, you’ll check your local law to make sure there's anything that – else that you may be required to have on your website. Okay, two more here, and one is security. Security is including having WordPress security plugins installed, like iThemes Security. That’s a good one. Make sure that you’ve got –the login form is turned to – or you’ve enabled brute force protection for your login page so that just anybody can’t get in. We wanna make sure that the admin user is not “Admin”. Like, the username is not “Admin”. We wanna make sure the passwords aren’t “password,” and you wanna make sure that you're requiring strong and unique passwords.

There's also two-factor authentication plugins that you can install to make sure that your WordPress site has that additional security measure. That basically means that WordPress sites need to have a username and a password, and then they have to have another method of communication or a way to authenticate, and that’s usually via a phone and they can get back in, or sometimes it’s using a generated code which you can store in one password or things like that. Again, this goes under WordPress, but we talked about it a little bit earlier, but clean up. And make sure that any unused themes, plugins, drafts, old copies of your website are removed from the server. You don’t want any duplications of anything out there. You wanna make sure that you’ve got a backup plugin that’s there and we’ve got off-site backup. So, that’s all of the security things. And then, we also wanna do some maintenance.

And so, maintenance is the last kinda bucket here. And they're basically a few things and basically – like an update reminder. So, you wanna make sure that if this is a website that you're managing that you get a reminder every once in a while. Maybe put that in your to-do list, or maybe on the first of every month you go in and you update plugins and you do – make sure that the backup’s working and all that kinda stuff. You wanna make sure that your subscriptions are set up to auto renew and you wanna monitor traffic stats. Those are just a few things on the maintenance side. Just to make sure that you're monitoring traffic, like if you see a big drop-off on traffic, well, maybe there's something that’s going wrong on your site. Maybe the page is not loading anymore. Maybe there's a pop-up blocker that’s causing people to bounce real fast or what-not.

So, those are some things to check on every once and a while. And again, the list can go on and on. I could’ve talked about, “Go into all your products and make sure that the prices are right” or “Make sure that you go into your podcasts and you’ve added all your podcasts properly” or “You update your –” there’s tons of stuff to do but this is kind of a good starting point a good checklist, and kinda broken down to those eight different parts where you can go in and you kind of add your own flair or add your own things to them. And again, the eight ones are: design, content, WordPress settings, functionality, SEO, legal, security, and maintenance. That’s all I’ve got for you this week. Take care and we’ll talk to you next week. Bye bye.