Website optimization is the process of using controlled experimentation to improve a website’s ability to drive business goals. To improve the performance of their website, website owners implement A/B testing to experiment with variations on pages of their website to determine which changes will ultimately result in more conversions. Optimizing your website for real people helps you gain your visitors’ trust, starts building a relationship, and lets you sell products without having to jump on a sales call.
The Target Market Approach (TMA) is a holistic approach that focuses on Strategy, Marketing Planning, Website Optimization and Content Creation for Ads. The website optimization approach combines a variety of disciplines to make sure your website performs ideally in all areas:
- UX Design (Frontend)
- Web Development (Backend)
- CRO/Landing Page Optimization.
Determine the objective of your website optimization. Different business types will have different objectives you will want to optimize for. For example, if you ran an eCommerce website, you’d want to figure out how to increase purchases and average order values (AOV). To do this, a website owner will conduct quantitative and qualitative research on key pages of the website that affect the ultimate goal of the site. For instance, the homepage is often a valuable area to conduct A/B tests, since much of the website’s traffic arrives on this page first. It is important that visitors immediately understand what the company offers, and that they can find their way to the second step (a click).
- Create a list of variablesthat your experiment will test. Changes can be created in variations and run as experiments in an A/B split testing tool.
- Run the experiment. Make sure when you’re running the experiment that you gather enough data to make your conclusions statistically significant. You don’t want to base your business decisions on inconclusive data sets.
- Measure the results, draw conclusions, and then iterate. The results of an experiment will show whether the changes to the website element produced an improvement. A winning variation can become the new baseline and tested iteratively as more ideas for improvement are generated. A losing test is still a valuable learning opportunity and can provide direction on what to try next in the optimization process.
8 Elements of Websites to Optimize
Depending on the company’s goal, website optimization could include testing:
- A headline, or key messages related to the company’s value proposition.
- The use of visual media, like photography or a video.
- The length of a form, varying the number of required fields or the order of completion.
- The prominent display of customer case studies that describes their success using your product or service.
- The visual style, text, and placement of a call to action (CTA) button or link.
- The organization of the website’s navigation.
- The placement of social sharing functionality.
- The appearance and organization of the webpage for a visitor on a mobile device.
Landing pages for marketing campaigns are also often an area of a website that can be optimized, because of the high-quality traffic that is being sent there by ads, email, or social media. Website owners can also conduct website optimization on multi-page processes on their websites, like a free trial signup, a checkout funnel, or any multi-page form.
Search Engine Optimization vs. Website Optimization
Website optimization is also sometimes used to describe the practice of improving the discoverability of a website for search engines, with the goal of improving search result rankings for key search terms.
The key ranking factors to consider when doing search engine optimization (SEO) include changing page titles, decreasing page load speeds, minimizing poor user experience, using the right keywords, and producing well-written content.
- Changing page titles – search engines like Google use your <title> tag to understand what your page is about and serve that content to its users. Make sure your <title> tag is less than 160 characters, unique to the page, and click worthy.
- Decreasing page load speeds – website optimization can also be connected to improving the site speed and site performance. This is implicitly relevant to the goal of website optimization as the completion of a desired action on a website. Poor website performance, such as latency or slow page speeds, can prohibit visitors from taking action due to an inability to navigate the website.
- Minimizing poor user experience – Google’s latest algorithm updates reveal that user engagement metrics like dwell time–how long someone stays on your website from the Google search engine results page–are being used for rankings. If users are staying longer on your site compared to your competitors, you will see higher rankings.
- Using the right keywords – the core of SEO still depends on the usage of relevant keywords. For example, say you run a sushi restaurant. Does it make sense to have a page that is going after the keyword [Japanese delivery] or [sushi delivery]? Based on keyword research in the US, we can see that there’s 1,900 searches for [Japanese delivery] and 18,100 searches for [sushi delivery].
- Producing well-written content – at the end of the day, search engines are serving users the best content they can find. If Google directs one of its users to your content and it’s full of grammar and spelling mistakes, then that reflects poorly on Google. Make sure the content you’re crafting is unique, full of value and well-written.
Optimizing the Mobile Experience
It’s no longer enough to have a website that looks and works great on laptops and desktop computers. To succeed in the online marketplace, you need to focus on your site’s mobile experience as well.
The majority of all traffic is now on mobile. Not to mention, most Google searches now happen on smartphones. “Instagram research showed that 84% of smartphone users examine products via a browser or mobile platform, and according to Criteo 36% of the online sales made in the fourth quarter of 2017 came courtesy of mobile devices, up 16% from two years earlier.”, Jia Wertz on Forbes.
Because of this, Google has already switched to mobile-first indexing, where they primarily index and rank your mobile pages. So, any issues can cost you not just potential mobile conversions, but the opportunity to rank highly for relevant search terms. The first thing you want to do is run a basic mobile usability test.
You should also test all pages on the most popular phone models, to make sure it adapts appropriately to each screen size.
Again, take the necessary steps to fix any potential issues. You want mobile users to have an easy time on your site.
You should make sure that:
- You don’t have popups or interstitials showing on mobile.
- The site loads quickly/correctly.
- The text is easy to read.
- All content is visible.
- Scaled-down images and graphics are still legible.
- The site is easy to navigate.
If you cover these basics, both search engines and users will reward you.
Landing Pages, your converting engine
A landing page is a standalone web page, created specifically for a marketing or advertising campaign. It’s where a visitor “lands” after they click on a link in an email, or ads from Google, Bing, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or similar places on the web.
Unlike web pages, which typically have many goals and encourage exploration, landing pages are designed with a single focus or goal, known as a call to action (or CTA, for short). It’s this focus that makes landing pages the best option for increasing the conversion rates of your marketing campaigns and lowering your cost of acquiring a lead or sale.
The landing page exists after prospects at the top of the funnel click a link in an ad, email, or anywhere else on the web. It’s where the conversion (like a purchase, signup, or registration) will take place. While the homepage has dozens of potential distractions—you can basically call them “leaks” instead of links—the landing page is super focused. Having fewer links on your landing page increases conversions, as there are fewer tantalizing clickables that’ll carry visitors away from the call to action.
Sure, the homepage looks amazing. It shows off the brand, lets people explore a range of products, and offers additional info about the company and its values. From here, a visitor can go anywhere—apply for a job, read some press releases, review the terms of service, post on the community boards, etc. But they won’t necessarily make a purchase. And that’s the point.
Paired with super slick ads that promote a single offer, everything about it works hard to turn these visitors into customers. It’s doing a better job to convert the traffic the brand’s already getting. That’s the power of landing pages!