Website optimization improves the performance and return of your marketing investment.
What is website optimization?
Website optimization (often referred to as conversion optimization) is the process of systematically improving the performance of your website to meet your business objectives.
Whether your goal is to get more leads, sales, or reduce customer service phone calls, website optimization can be used to make your website more effective at meeting those goals.
How do I optimize my website?
The process for optimizing your website follows the same principles as conversion rate optimization. In fact, the two terms are often used interchangeably. Website optimization is best conducted as an ongoing process that over time makes your website more effective and valuable for you.
By following the process below you can improve the performance of your website through continual optimization.
- Establish a hypothesis – Review your analytics and look for parts of your funnel that are performing poorly, such as pages with high bounce or exit rates. Collect qualitative feedback from visitors as to why they’re not converting. You can brainstorm potential causes of poor performance to build a list of website optimizations to test.
- Prioritize – After building your list of potential optimizations, you need to put them in priority order. Put them in a spreadsheet and rank them in order of their anticipated impact, your confidence in their potential to improve performance and how easy it is to implement the change.
- Test your optimizations – A/B testing your website optimizations is the next step. Keep changes that improve the performance of your site, eliminate those that don’t.
- Analyze tests – Review the testing data to determine which hypotheses were true and which weren’t. By implementing the winning tests you’ll optimize your website for higher conversions with each winning variation. Make sure you don’t end tests too early so that you don’t fall victim to misleading testing data.
- Optimize your website – Put your winning tests into play and learn from tests that didn’t win. Use both outcomes as inspiration for successive tests to run. Remember, website optimization is an ongoing process that produces its best gains over time.
Why is website optimization important?
Website optimization is important because it helps your website visitors be more successful with their visits to your website. Every visitor comes to your site hoping to answer a question, find a solution to their problem, or complete a task of one kind or another. When you optimize your website you are making it easier for your site visitors to accomplish those tasks.
For example, if you are an ecommerce website that sells shoes, you can optimize your website to increase the number purchases made by people visiting your website. You can do this through conversion rate optimization, which is focused on systematically a/b testing different parts of your website to increase this conversion rate.
When you optimize your website, your site becomes more effective for your business. A more effective website can increase revenue for your business through new sales or leads, and reduce cost, through better conversion rates on existing marketing spend, or by reducing customer support needs through better information and clarity for visitors with questions.
What should I optimize on my website?
Every business is unique, therefore every website will need to be optimized for different things. The place to start is to understand two things:
- What is your website visitor’s intent? In other words, what task are they trying to accomplish? When you know this you know what behavior you’re trying to help and facilitate. If their goal is to find a job, you can focus on getting them to the right spot on your site. If it’s to learn more about a product, you can focus optimizations on helping them achieve that goal.
- What are your business KPIs? Hopefully your business goals are related to your visitor goals. Know what you are trying to optimize your website for is the first step in deciding what to test, change and fix. Prioritize your business objectives for your website and those business goals will help you decide where to invest in optimizing your website.
Once you’ve identified the priorities of both your business and your website visitors you can then determine what you should optimize first. Here are a few common areas that people choose to focus on when doing website optimization.
Landing pages – Optimizing your website means optimizing the entry or landing pages where visitors first come into contact with your site. Whether they come from Google, Facebook or somewhere else, the landing page is where people make an initial decision on whether you can help them with their needs.
Optimizing the landing pages on your website can lead to lower bounce rates and greater conversions as people gain confidence that they’re in the right place to get their questions answered. Don’t confuse landing pages with your home page. Look at your top landing pages reports in your analytics package to figure out what landing pages to optimize on your website first.
Conversion points – If you’re asking your visitor to fill out a form or take some other action that counts as a conversion for you, you’ll want to investigate the user behavior on those pages. How many people visit those pages versus how many complete the form? Can you test different elements of that experience to improve the conversion rate? Focusing on these conversion points is always a great place to look for website optimization opportunity.
Checkout process – If you’re an e-commerce company, your checkout process is your biggest source of opportunity and biggest source of frustration. Studying the user behavior through the checkout process can provide you with all sorts of inspiration for optimization opportunities.
Home page – This is a special landing page, the front door to your website online. While not everyone will start here, a large portion of your traffic will use this as the jumping off point for their journey. Website optimization requires time spent optimizing your homepage. Collect insights on the jobs people want to accomplish when they come to your homepage and develop an optimization plan to meet those needs.
These are just a few areas where website optimization can be immediately valuable, but the best bet is to look at your site performance through the dual lense of what your visitors want to achieve and what your main business objectives are.