What we learned from one billion site audits

We completed more than one billion audit checks on websites in the past quarter and I’m going to share with you the practical findings and actionable insights discovered from this.

Website Health

Website health is imperative to search success.

From crawling and indexation, through to site speed and mobile friendliness, a website with poor health will not perform anywhere near its potential online.

We believe in this statement so much that, as a company, we created a means to crawl, test, audit, report, prioritise and implement the most important technical website health checks. Through this we’ve completed more than one billion audits.

In fact, we reached the one billion-mark in just over a month.

From this wealth of data we established website audit scores to benchmark the health of thousands of sites (individually and cumulatively). An individual site sample can be seen below:

Website health audit score and improvement actions

Using our own deep data platform, we set up audit categories and rules, and applied weightings, thresholds and other contextual data to apply actionable meaning to the provided data.

Apollo Auditor (our audit bot) has saved the work of an estimated 3 people per year so far, with the complexity, frequency and effectiveness of technical website reviews being continuously completed.

In collaboration with our search experts and efficient technical reporting functionality (a large element of this included prioritisation of failed audit checks, as well as insights into implementation actions needed) we can effectively improve site health.

Website health audit report

Adding instant notification functionality means that our experts (and customers) can get updates on site health 24/7, for support when it’s needed the most.

Audit Categories

Through Apollo Insights (our deep data platform) we completed technical website audits covering the following categories:

  • Domain
  • Header and meta data
  • Page structure
  • URLs and HTTP codes
  • Page content
  • External factors
  • Safe browsing
  • Site setup and configuration
  • More

Audit Rules

Within these categories we established a number of rules by which a website could pass or fail.

We wanted to be able to benchmark category health and severity (plus other areas), and make improvements based on impact potential value.

On top of this, having control of refinement means that Apollo Auditor can ‘learn’, based on changing scenarios (for example, changing a threshold for audit failure based on latest Google updates).

What we learned from one billion audit checks

Lessons from this data will continue with every crawl and check. However, there is a lot we can already share with you:

Healthy websites attract 750% more links

Comparing the top 10% of technically healthy websites to the bottom 10% (in this case external, non agency sites, to support less ‘active’ likelihood of link building) the average difference in link volumes is over 750%.

The bottom 10% attracted a total of 1903 average links, compared to the healthiest sites that attracted 14,431 backlinks.

Technically sound sites received more organic traffic

When looking at the top and bottom sites for technical performance (in this case agency serviced sites regardless of specialist service provided) the healthiest 10% received 33% more traffic from SEO.

Unhealthy websites are slow

Dramatically slower in fact.

The healthiest sites are 22% faster on mobiles and 23% faster on desktops.

Website health suffers without SEO

From a sample of thousands, I can categorically state that a website without active Search Engine Optimisation is technically unhealthier.

On average, website health suffers by approximately 15% without active SEO in place.

The lowest performing websites for technical health were 30% unhealthier than the respective lowest performing websites with SEO.

Next steps?

The main action from this post is to think about your website health.

How do you measure your website’s health at the moment?

Do you have defined intervals to complete website health checks?

I would love to hear your thoughts about this post as well as your successes from improving technical website health – tweet me!

Lee Wilson profile picture
Lee Wilson

Lee has been working in the online arena, leading digital departments since the early 2000s, and oversees all our delivery services at Vertical Leap, having joined back in 2010. Lee joined our company Operations Team in May 2019. Before working at Vertical Leap, Lee completed a degree in Business Management & Communications at Winchester University, headed up the online development and direct marketing department for an international financial services company for ~7 years, and set up/run a limited company providing website design, development and digital marketing solutions. Lee had his first solely authored industry book (Tactical SEO) published in 2016, with 2 further industry books being published in 2019, and can be seen regularly expert contributing to industry websites including State of Digital, Search Engine Journal, The Drum, plus many others. Lee has a passion for management in the digital industry and loves to see the progression of others through personal learning, training and development. Outside the office he looks to help others while challenging himself, having skydived, bungie jumped and abseiled (despite a fear of heights) with many more fundraising and voluntary events completed and on the horizon. As a husband and dad, Lee loves to spend time with his family and friends. His hobbies include exercising, trying new experiences, eating out, playing countless team sports, as well as watching films (Gangster movies in particular – “forget about it”).

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