Website optimization services might just be one of the most misunderstood services out there. For starters... do you even know who you should hire to do it?
- Do you hire a marketing agency? They (should) understand your target audience and how to write messaging that speaks to them.
- Or do you hire a web development agency? They have the technical know-how to do the actual optimization.
I'm going to answer that question - along with several others you didn't even think about - in this article. So let's get started.
What is Website Optimization?
When you optimize your site, you are making a series of small and big changes that are designed to:
- Help search engines understand your pages.
- Improve the experience that people have on your site.
- Optimize your site across a variety of devices.
Some changes are fairly easy and might even be done on your own. Others will require you to bring in someone with more technical experience.
Now, let's look at some common misconceptions about website optimization that are hurting your website and your business.
Optimizing for Conversions
One of the primary goals for a website is to generate leads and customers for your business. You achieve this by optimizing your site for conversions.
Conversions happen when a visitor to your site takes an action that provides you with their contact information or their payment.
Many people think that they can just hire one person to go through and optimize their site for conversion. Unfortunately, this isn't the case.
To make matters more complex, you also can't just hire any ole' website agency or marketing agency.
Conversion rate optimization is a broad practice that requires a wide range of skills. To be effective at it, you need at least 4 disciplines:
1) Copywriting. You will need someone that is capable of writing persuasive copy for your pages.
2) Design. From colors to graphics, every element of design on your site has an impact on conversion rates.
3) Analytics. Data-driven decisions are important. You need someone with the skills and knowledge to run tests and analyze the results.
4) Developer. You need someone that has the technical chops to be able to go in and make changes to the site to improve the performance.
Regardless of whether you hire a web dev or marketing agency, you need to be sure to choose someone with the right talent on staff to get the job done.
Following Best Practices
Effective website optimization is about much more than following best practices.
You've probably read numerous articles and guides that promise to show you all the optimization tips and tactics to get the best results. You might have even tried a few of them yourself to see if they did.
Here's the thing -- even if what you experimented with worked, do you know why?
There simply is not a one-size-fits-all model of best practices that you can put into place and magically see results.
Don't you think that everyone would be doing it if there were?
Instead of doing what everyone else does, you need to look at how you can remove friction and barriers that are hindering the flow on your own site.
Don't believe me? Let's look at an example.
One really common piece of advice for buttons used in a Call-to-Action is to use a color like green because it signifies "go" or moving forward. However, in this study, they found that changing the button from green to red actually increased conversions for their site by 21%.
Small "Silver Bullet" Changes
You might have seen case studies where changing a single little word on a button led to amazing results. For example, in this study, they simply changed the words on the button from "Start your free 30 day trial" to "Start my free 30 day trial" and saw a miraculous 90% increase in click-through.
This can be very misleading though.
They leave off a lot of information when they publish results like these.
You don't know:
- The duration of the test.
- If the traffic remained constant throughout the test.
- If there were any other changes made on the site leading up to this button.
Instead of focusing on the small "silver bullet" changes that might get results, spend time looking at the bigger changes you can make that will have the best impact on the results you want to achieve.
Above the Fold
Many people have heard the old "above the fold" statement when it comes to websites. If you haven't, then I'll elaborate.
The area "above the fold" on a website refers the space on the page that is visible on the screen without a user having to scroll down.
If you've based your website's design and optimization on this myth, this it's time to hit ctrl+z. This myth is debunked because of one simple reason.
People know how to scroll.
That's it... really. Back in the stone ages when I built some of my very first websites, this was important. People were still learning to use computers and look things up online. They had a lot of trouble doing more than just clicking with a mouse and didn't always know to scroll down.
It is now pretty common to scroll down. Most people even scroll down before reading the text at the top of the page.
In fact, in a case study by Content Verve, they found that calls-to-action that were placed lower on the page actually performed 304% better than ones above the fold.
The reason this works is simple.
Most people want to learn about your offer or service before purchasing or making a commitment. It's only after they've read the content that they're willing to engage with the CTA.
People Don't Read
You've likely heard a lot lately about decreasing attention spans.
"People are easily distracted."
"Humans have less of an attention span than a goldfish."
Heck - even I've said it. You have to write short, compelling, copy if you want to get their attention before they run away.
The problem with such a blanket statement is that it doesn't consider the context.
If someone is scrolling through Facebook wanting to find out what's going on with their friends or watch the latest impossible-to-duplicate recipe from Tasty - then no - they are not going to read a post that's a thousand words long.
However, if they are doing a Google search trying to learn something or solve a problem, and you've written a thousand word article that walks through step-by-step how to solve it, they will read that.
The truth is that people are reading more now than ever before. We live in a world where anything you want to know is literally seconds away.
Backlinko did an analysis of over 1 million search results and found that longer content consistently performed better than short content. People perceive longer content to have a higher value. Simple.
Designers and developers will always tell you that it's important that you have a uniform experience across your site.
You need to have brand consistency.
Style and layout should be the same or users will be confused as they navigate your site.
The truth is that you need to put your user's experience first.
You do want to maintain your brand - but in this case that simply means staying true to your messaging and design elements. But from there, you need to tailor your site to the expectations of your customers.
For example, all of your blog articles don't have to follow the same structure and layout.
Some articles may be more fun and let more personality show. Feel free to be creative with the layout, images, and use of fonts.
Other articles may be more serious and appeal to a more reserved side of your customer base. Those articles can be written more plainly and to-the-point.
More Pages = Better Ranking
I hear this myth a lot when people talk about ranking organically for content.
They think that they need to create a website with hundreds of pages if they want Google to think that they are big, important, and awesome.
The simple truth here is that quality matters more than quantity. Google's job is help people find the right answer to their problem, not the most answers.
Your job as a website owner is to optimize your site for the important information that a potential customer or current customer would need to know.
Help them solve a problem, answer a question, or just become more educated about your industry, products, or services.
Your website should include as many or as few pages as needed to achieve that goal.