How to Evaluate A Website’s Performance

by Mark Faggiano on August 11, 2010

website evaluation checklistHere’s a list of basic questions I use when performing a website evaluation or audit on a client website. It gets more technical and geeky than this, but my hope is that this fives you a good idea of some of the things I do to help turn websites around.

GENERAL: questions I ask directly of the owner, or team that runs the website
1. What are the goals of the website? I want to hear from the website’s brass what they are trying to accomplish. It’s not always obvious. And it’s not always what they should be trying to accomplish. Often time there aren’t even any goals.
2. What the history of the website? Tell me specific details about sales (or membership) trends?
3. What’s the history of the site’s SEO strategy? What effect has that had on the site’s performance?
4. Have there been any major traumatic events (like de-indexing or site outages)? How have those affected sales and performance?
5. What’s your keyword strategy? If they have a strategy, I’ll ask to see the latest data they’ve accumulated about what keywords they consider to be most valuable.
6. How well has the stated keyword strategy been implemented on the site?
7. What is your content strategy?

The rest of the questions are what I ask as I evaluate the website.

8. Is there any meta data structure? If so, was it done properly?
9. Does the site use unique, intelligent, SEO-friendly page titling?
10. What does the site’s meta data and page titling say about the company’s grasp of keywords?
11. How SEO-savvy is the URL structure being used?
12. What’s the internal linking strategy?
13. How healthy is the code?
14. How much (if at all) is the code affecting the site’s ability to be indexed?
15. Are there any site maps?
16. Do any of the search engines know about their site maps?
17. Are there any RSS feeds?
18. Do the search engines know about their RSS feeds?
19. What does their Webmaster Tools Account reveal?

20. What are the traffic patterns (if any) in terms of volume?
21. How is traffic now compared to a historical average? Higher? Lower? Why?
22. Where’s the website’s traffic coming from?
23. Why is traffic coming from those sources? Is is because of link partnerships? Publicity? Blog mentions? Comments?
24. What percentage of the traffic is coming from organic search?
25. What percentage of traffic is coming from paid search?
26. What’s the relationship between the traffic source and the user’s behavior on the site (pageviews, time on site)?
27. What’s the relationship between the traffic source and the conversion rate?
28. In case of higher conversion, what can we learn that can be applied to other sources?
29. In cases of low conversion, why are people not converting into customers? What appears to be the roadblock?

30. What keywords does the website rank for?
31. What, specifically, are those ranks per keyword across all search engines?
32. Is there historical data to show how those ranks have changed?
33. What kind of penetration does the website have in organic search?
34. How does the site rank for the search terms they said they were targeting?
35. Are the keywords the website is targeting the right ones? If not, how much potential traffic is being missed as a result?

36. What’s the state of competition in the industry? Who does the client think they are competing with?
37. According to search (not according to sales), who are they competing with?
38. What are their competitors doing better/worse than they are in terms of content strategy?
39. What do their competitor’s link profiles have that’s missing from our client’s website?


40. What’s the state of inbound links?
41. Are the current inbound links helping or hurting?
42. According to the competitor data, are there immediate link-building opportunity?

Darn…didn’t make it to a nice even number like 50!

The answers to these questions help me put together an evaluation designed to help clients  get more qualified traffic and convert at a higher rate.

Have any questions of your own? Are you an SEO with a similar checklist? Feel free to comment or compare your experiences with me in the comment section below.

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This post was written by...

Website consultant who loves helping others build online companies. Sold @beelya & @filelater. Working on my next cash machine: @taxjar. Crazy about golf & sports. Connect with me on Google+

  • John

    Great post! I will try to see if I can answer all of these questions!

  • Mark Faggiano

    Yeah, let's see if you can answer all of these in between kicks after you've been out in the sun all day teaching and mentoring the best kickers in the country. It will be a good test of your mental skills ( as well as a worthwhile business exercise).

    Thanks for your comment!

  • Matt Anderson

    I think I will have to use this for the next site I work on. Thanks.

  • Mark Faggiano

    You're welcome. Glad you think it's worthy.

  • Chris Gragtmans

    Mark, thanks for an excellent article.

    Might it also be worth auditing the website's performance? That may not have traditionally been thought of as an SEO priority, but now that Google is taking page load time into account with their algorithms, it very much is… optimizing the site load and the use of a CDN or Cloud Acceleration service is in many cases an important consideration.

    Again thanks for the insightful SEO info, and all the best.

    Chris Gragtmans

  • Mark Faggiano


    Thanks for participating.

    It's definitely worth taking a look at site speed. I should have addresses that a little more specifically where I mentioned taking a look at the health of the code. Google is doing a little more than hinting that this is important, so it should be on the list.

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