If you’ve been approached with an offer of a website audit, you may be wondering what you can expect to get out of such a service, and for what price.
The fact is that a variety of companies and consultants will offer to audit your website for a wide variety of reasons, and the cost of a website audit will vary based on the work auditors must do to both find and fix problems with your site.
Don’t worry: By the end of this article, you’ll have a clear idea of all the things your site could potentially be audited for, as well as how to assess the potential value of each type of website audit.
Defining Website Audits
You’ve probably heard the word “audit” the most frequently in conjunction with the word “tax,” or perhaps even in reference to taking a class for college credit.
But in general, the term “audit” is most often used to describe the service of an independent third party that thoroughly and methodically checks your work or files for errors.
Essentially, when a service or agency offers to audit your website, they’re offering to check it for a certain set of problems. Website problems that can be audited are generally related to one of the following categories:
Search Engine Optimization
For the uninitiated, “Search engine optimization” is the work that goes into making your site’s content as easy for search engines to find as possible. The end goal is to get search engines to prioritize your site over your competitors’ — or at least improve your site’s visibility in searches as much as possible.
SEO audits typically aim to check for all the factors that a search engine checks for as it “decides” which results are the most relevant to a given query. SEO factors typically include things like website load speed, content length, keyword placement, image metadata, and plugin conflicts that interfere with search engine access.
As you can probably guess, website security audits check your website for potential security issues. Auditors may check for things like weak passwords and old, insecure versions of plugins that could easily be exploited. Security professionals may also scan for malware or identify other opportunities to boost security.
Although the term “audit” may not be used as often to describe services promising to improve the less technical aspects of a website, some services do offer to formally review your website for things like usability: overall content structure and flow, social media integration, or ecommerce.
More and more website owners are beginning to understand that it’s their moral and legal responsibility to make sure that everyone who wants to use their website can do so easily, regardless of a user’s physical abilities. Some accessibility best practices overlap with best SEO practices and best usability practices, as we wrote in our post on the advantages of an accessible website, so some website auditing services may even claim to cover all three areas with the same audit.
What You Can Expect to Pay for a Website Audit
When technology experts offer to audit your site, they’re typically offering to have a professional manually look through each page of content, examine how the site has been programmed on the back end, and manually test your site’s various interactive processes.
Website auditors may also use automated tools to test, measure, and help assess various aspects of your site.
If your site has been around for years or has many pages of content, this process can take hours — and website professionals typically command a significant hourly rate.
However, the most expensive part of a website audit typically happens after the initial diagnosis of problems. After that, the agency or team you’ve hired to audit your site must work to fix the problems that they’ve found. This process, often referred to as “remediation,” usually takes much longer. You can imagine that in some cases, this can lead to a pretty hefty price tag.
Regardless of what issues are found, it’s reasonable to ask for details on how the audit costs break down so you can understand exactly how they arrived at any given price point. You can also choose to commit just to the audit costs and take on the expense of actually fixing the content later to make it easier on your budget.
How to Save Money on Website Audits
Other than phasing in the fixes, as we just mentioned, there are other ways you may be able to save on website audits. Here are some of the main options.
Use an Automated Tool
In some cases, you can start tackling the issues that an audit aims to solve by using a software tool. Different plugins and paid programs may offer to fix security issues, SEO issues, and accessibility issues automatically with the help of AI and algorithms.
For example, some programs use AI tools to compose alternative text for all the images on your site so you don’t have to do it manually. (As we wrote in our post on alternative text, making sure each image has a description for visually impaired people is crucial for accessibility, but is also helpful for SEO purposes.)
However, we’ve found that automated tools are only able to fix about 30% of a website’s accessibility issues. In many cases, problems with accessibility are more nuanced than a software program can detect — and this goes for other aspects of website design, too. For example, AI may be able to compose alt text, but only a human can gauge its quality.
An auditor may use tech tools, too, but the best auditing services will go beyond providing the results of tools and give you big-picture insights and suggestions that only a human can.
Hire a Consultant
Paying for a consultant to work with you on your website issues instead of paying for a full website audit can have some advantages.
A consultant can help you get started with identifying problems and fixing them, but you don’t have to necessarily commit to hiring the consultant for the full entirety of the project. They can just get you started with understanding how to identify issues, and you and your staff can do the rest.
Narrow the Scope of your Audit
If you know the specific area of your site that needs the most help, you could possibly pay for a professional to go through that problem area without assessing the entire site.
For example, some WordPress professionals offer “plugin audits” to fix sites that have amassed too many plugins over the years. Auditors can go into your site to see which plugins are redundant and advise website owners on how to change things. Sometimes this narrower focus can be super helpful and go a long way toward fixing issues without assessing every single page on a website.
Select a Sampling Audit
You don’t necessarily need to hire an agency to comb through every page of your website (which often costs tens of thousands of dollars) if someone can get the basic idea of what’s wrong with your site by breaking down a few sample pages in detail.
These kinds of audits are called sampling audits. Once you have a good idea of the problems presented on a few key pages, you can go on to analyze the rest of your website on your own, without the expense of having professionals make every single fix.You don’t necessarily need to hire an agency to comb through every page of your website if you can get the basic idea of most problems by breaking down a few sample pages in detail. Click To Tweet
If you want to learn more, reach out to us at Bet Hannon Business Websites. We specialize in designing accessible WordPress websites, but we also offer accessibility sampling audits for businesses that want to learn more about how to make their sites more accessible.
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