Answers to Your Site Audit Questions

By Pam Foster | September 21, 2015

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series Website Content Audits

Listener raising hand to ask a question.

Straightforward answers to the most common site audit questions.

If the idea of offering a Site Audit to your web copywriting prospects is new to you, you may have questions about how it works. Today I’m happy to answer the most common questions I get from new copywriters.

Question: What does a Site Audit focus on? Is it technical?

No worries! You don’t have to be a technical wizard to perform Site Audits. To be very clear, a web copywriter’s Site Audit is about the web content and how it reads and performs across all pages to achieve your client’s business mission.

We’re talking about the content (the copywriting), not the programming or technical aspects that a web developer will need to fix.

However, having said that, when you conduct a Site Audit you may find technical problems such as broken links, unclear navigation, a clunky ordering process, or other issues that impede content success. You can and should point out these problems because they impact whether or not a website’s content will work as intended — but you’re not focused on technical issues as part of your report.

Many web companies offer a Site Audit that’s much more technical in nature but they’re NOT looking at the content itself.

You fill an important gap by making sure the messages are clear, easy to read, and persuasive across the site.

Question: What does a Site Audit include?

A thorough Site Audit runs about 10-15 pages, depending on the depth of information you provide. Typically it includes:

  • A cover letter with an overview of your methodology and what you found: the positive aspects of the site’s content as well as the many opportunities you see to improve its competitive performance and results.
  • A detailed look at key pages: This includes the site’s Home Page plus a second-tier/category page (About Us, our Products, Our Services, etcetera) and a third-tier page such as a specific product or service page. That’s all you need to include because most second- and third-tier pages follow a similar format throughout a site. When you identify gaps or problems on one of these pages, you can assume the same problems are on the others.
  • Descriptive findings plus screen shots that “show and tell” the client what’s problematic. A screen shot image of the page can make a huge difference in helping clients understand what you mean.
  • A competitive “scorecard” that rates the client’s competition: how competitors look in search results and on their websites. Are they showing up higher in Google results? Are their websites awesome or lousy? In any case, you can ensure clients that you know how to help them improve their own Google rankings and website results.
  • Your Site Audit Checklist where you list the findings of your diagnostic review. You’ll want to provide a YES/NO check-off on how the content performed for each checklist item … and if you checked “No,” also provide a brief explanation of what’s missing or incorrect.
  • A recap and call-to-action: You’ll summarize your findings about the client’s opportunities … and then end the report with a “presumptive close.” This means you assume your client will want to proceed with some or all of the fixes you recommend. You’ll say something like, “When would you like to get started in updating the content?” This is a confident way to nudge the client along to your web copywriting project!

In summary, this report serves as a client’s roadmap for improvements that will make a major impact on the site’s results, immediately and into the future.

Question: What Can I Charge for a Site Audit report?

This is entirely up to you, but here’s some background to work with.

When I started offering site audits in 2007 or so, it seemed that $1,000 was a decent fee for providing this valuable report.

But then, as I grew in my confidence and I realized that a Site Audit can serve as a major foundation for companies to improve their content — and results — I went up to $2,000 and then $2,500. You may want to charge even more.

Question: How long does it take to create and deliver a Site Audit report?

When you’re starting out and preparing your first Site Audit report, it may take you up to 16-20 hours of work. But don’t get discouraged! You’ll get much faster with each report you do.

It takes time to thoughtfully go through each of these steps:

  • Talk with the client to understand the site’s goals, target audience, unique value and so on
  • Review the website’s first impression against these factors
  • “Score” the client’s content against your specific Site Audit Checklist items
  • Take screen shots of your findings on the website and in Google searches
  • Investigate the competition and see how the client’s site measures up
  • Prepare descriptive write-ups on what you found
  • Make sure the report is polished and error-free, ready to go
  • Review the report with your client during a one-hour session

Each step is critical in putting your best foot forward with the client, so it’s well worth this time to make a great impression that leads to more work.

Question: Should I offer Site Audits on my website, as part of my services?

Yes, definitely! You can set up a page on your site that sells the tremendous value of a Site Audit and explain what it includes.

This will make it easy for you to introduce your Site Audit service to new prospects when they call you. You can send them a link during your initial call or as a follow up, to give them the full picture of what you’re offering and why it’s a MUST.

Plus, this page will likely be found by potential prospects looking for your services in Google. For instance, let’s say you offer web copywriting in the fitness world and a client searches “fitness copywriter for website,” your Site Audit page may show up in the results. He or she will think, “Wow! This copywriter is perfect for me — that Site Audit is just what we need!”

Finally, having this service on your website instantly positions you as a consultant, elevating you from just “web copywriting” to web content consultant. Has a nice ring to it, yes?

This article is part the series: Website Content Audits

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