Testing and Optimizing Your Website

Testing and Optimizing Your Website

The process of testing and optimizing your website is probably the most important piece of maintaining a site, and one that a lot of site owners ignore after the site is launched.  The data that your visitors are providing by way of their interaction with different points of your site is crucial information to collect.  Using a combination of analyzing this visitor behavior, testing pages against other pages, and optimizing your SEO, you can easily increase your site’s performance and ultimately your sales.  If you’re not already doing this, you’re walking away from an incredible amount of knowledge about your potential customers and losing out on the opportunity to get them to spend their money with you instead of your competitor.

Lets dig into some best practice for collecting your website’s visitor behavior, testing pages, and then what to do with all of that information.

Collecting Data

Collecting data is incredibly simple.  Google Analytics is the industry standard for small to mid-sized businesses and can help anyone get a grasp on your customer’s interactions and behavior.  You can go through our thorough guide to the high-level reports of analytics or jump in and dig around until you’re comfortable, but these reports will answer questions such as:

  • How are visitors finding the site?
  • What keywords are people typing in to find you?
  • How long are visitors spending on the site?
  • What pages did they visit?
  • How many times did a call to action get clicked?

Using Google Analytics

Again, we’ve put together a number of guides on getting deep into analytics, but here are some ways to use the platform to get some key metrics and answer some important questions about your site’s traffic:

  1. Long-Term Statistics
    Get a detailed overview of visitor activity on your site over months and eventually years.  How did you visitors’ behavior change over time?
  2. Examine Visitor Activities and their Frequency
    Did you get a lot of return visitors or are you better at gathering new visits?
  3. Locations
    Where are your visitors coming from? Are you only focusing locally or are you getting a lot of traffic from across state lines?  Does your messaging address this?
  4. Web Browser Support
    Is your site supported by most web browsers?  Does your target audience have updated browsers or are they working on older computers?  Example – many corporations are using proprietary software that only works on older browsers.  If your target audience might fall into this, you need to make sure your site will display properly for them.
  5. Content and Popular Keywords
    Search engines will show your site to visitors based on the amount of relevant keywords showing up on your website.  Does your content have enough popular industry-related keywords throughout?
  6. Backlinks and Referrals
    Where is your traffic coming from?  How long are people from each place staying?  Does each channel have a different user flow?
  7. Mobile
    Is your site set up for mobile devices?  Are there opportunities for new mobile-specific channels (such as SMS campaigns)?
  8. Social Media
    Are your social media links getting engagement and driving traffic to your sites?
  9. Conversions
    Are there roadblocks preventing visitors from completing goals and becoming customers?
  10. Real-Time Analytics
    On days where you drive visitors externally, such as from social media sites, watch your traffic in real time to get a quick response from a promotion and be able to gauge initial impact.

Testing Pages

There are a number of testing platforms available that will help you run a split test on your site, but it’s something you can easily do yourself.  Mark a point in your analytics, such as a date range (a week perhaps), and then make a change to see how it affects your metrics.  If you see improvement over the same range, then that’s a successful test.  If your engagement/traffic/goals drop, then revert the change.  Once the numbers move back to the original position, you can try testing it against a different change.

  • Test one element at a time so you don’t confuse your results.
  • Don’t make changes against a time period that has a specific campaign running that won’t during your testing period.
  • Run your tests for a long enough time period to get enough data to be relevant and accurate.
  • Keep in mind that small changes can be affected by changes you have previously made.  A change from four months ago might not perform as well with a recent change to your site.  Sometimes a re-test is a good idea to make sure.

Optimize Your Site

Once you have all of your behavior data analyzed and testing procedures together, it’s time to optimize your site.  Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is modifying your site to boost the search result rankings (SERPs) and drive organic traffic.  We write about SEO a lot here, so dig around for what to do next.  These are some high-level optimization ideas that you can take on based on your results from data analysis and testing in order to drive more conversions.

Keep in mind that advanced SEO is a big undertaking and something that can attract a lot of shady services, so do your homework before outsourcing your SEO work.  Some wrong moves or shortcuts can cause a lot of damage to your search results.

Posted in Web