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Website Optimization

What Is Website Optimization?

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 an increase in engagement, clicks, purchases, or other type of action.

Website optimization offers many measurable business benefits. 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, AdWords, social media, and email marketing.

The Goals of Optimization

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 <b>conversions</b>, or the number of audience members who complete a certain action.

For instance:

  • An online publication practices website optimization with the conversion goal of increasing the number of articles visitors read.
  • An online store optimizes its website to encourage completion of checkouts and repeat purchases.
  • An online software company optimizes its website to improve the rate at which visitors sign up for (or convert to) a free trial of the product.
  • An insurance company optimizes its website to capture more potential leads for insurance coverage sales.
  • A fundraising campaign optimizes their donation form to encourage more donations.

The Optimization Process

Website Optimization Process

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).

After identifying the top-level goal to improve, the website owner identifies under-performing points on a web page and begins to formulate a hypothesis for how these elements could be tested to improve conversion rates. Changes can be created in variations and run as experiments in an A/B split testing tool.

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.

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 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.


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.

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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