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 (eg. demo requests, increases in organic search results, more purchases, reduced customer service time, etc.).
Website optimization follows the same principles used in conversion rate optimization and is based on the scientific method.
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).
Come up with your best guesses on how to impact your objective. After identifying the top-level goal to improve, you should identify under-performing points on a web page and begins to formulate a hypothesis for how these elements could be tested to improve conversion rates.
Create a list of variables that 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 or not 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.
Website optimization can offer many measurable business benefits if done correctly. First, the process of website optimization determines the best version of web page elements that help visitors to accomplish a certain goal. Optimization improves the efficiency of the website at converting visitor traffic into email subscribers, readers, or paying customers. In turn, improved efficiency leads to greater ROI on customer acquisition and traffic-generating campaigns such as web searches, Google AdWords, social media, and email marketing.
The goals of a website will vary depending upon the type of business, the business’ target customers, and the desired action of that audience: a purchase, filling out a form, or reading an article. The desired action of a website visitor can also be conversions, or the number of audience members who complete a certain action.
Depending on the company’s goal, website optimization could include testing:
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.
Website optimization is also sometimes used to describe the practice of improving the discoverability of a website for search engines, with the ultimate 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.
Website optimization can also be connected to improving the speed and reliability of a website’s 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 errors, can prohibit visitors from taking action due to an inability to navigate the website.
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