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Website optimization 101: A guide to getting started

Last updated

12 April 2024

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Your website is the most important tool you have to increase traffic, leads, and conversions for your business. But launching a website isn’t enough. You need to nurture and maintain it so that it can achieve the best results for your business.

Think of it as another tool or piece of equipment that requires preventative maintenance for continued operation, calibration and testing for optimal performance, and repair for when it breaks.

When you give your website its due attention, your return on investment (ROI) in advertising and marketing will increase. You’ll also build brand awareness, trust, and long-lasting relationships with your target audience and customers.

Discover the importance of website optimization and how to set up your website to perform at its best.

What is website optimization?

Website optimization is always a work in progress. You must constantly monitor key areas of performance to ensure your website

  • Is easy to use

  • Boosts your content’s visibility

  • Captures customer interest

  • Gets the desired response from customers

This strategy focuses on user experience and website functionality. These can include the speed at which the website loads and how engaging and informative the content is. Consistently monitoring loading and useability issues and making the necessary corrections are part of website optimization. Regularly updating and personalizing content can also help you get the best performance from your website.

What is search engine optimization?

You might wonder if website optimization is the same as search engine optimization (SEO). They are two different strategies, but you can intertwine them to achieve the best results for your business.

SEO aims to improve your website’s rankings in search results and search engine visibility, bringing more awareness to your brand and sending more traffic to your website. You can incorporate SEO into the content that you provide on your website to establish authority, trust, and credibility with potential customers.

SEO involves placing relevant keywords and keyword variations throughout your content. A keyword is a word or phrase that signifies the meaning or the main ideas of the topics you’re presenting on your website. When people research products or services, they will type in related words or phrases that will show results that match what they are looking for. Your keyword ranking refers to your position in the search results for specific words and phrases.

Having backlinks sprinkled in popular blogs or other content directing people to your website will also help with SEO. An example of a backlink is when anchor text in an article on another website is hyperlinked to your webpage to mark it as an information source.

Website optimization goals

There are several reasons why it’s necessary to incorporate website optimization strategies into your overall business plan. Your website is what drives almost the entire customer experience. If the slightest problem with your website negatively impacts a customer’s experience when interacting with your brand, it can impair traffic flow, conversion rates, and revenue.

Increase traffic

Many different sources drive traffic to websites, including the following:

  • Direct sources

  • Referrals

  • Searches

  • Campaigns

Direct traffic is sourced by users who know or are familiar with your website’s URL and type it into their browser to reach it. Other users may visit your site by clicking on your URL on another website. This type of traffic is called referral traffic.

Searches are most likely to drive traffic to your website. Users can enter keywords into a search engine and click on your listing. This method makes SEO an important part of your website optimization strategy.

Campaign traffic is generated from ads or paid searches. Paid searches only appear to consumers when they are actively searching for a specific product or service. At the same time, users can encounter display ads anywhere they may be navigating on the internet.

If you use paid searches to direct traffic to your website, SEO and knowing the right keywords to use becomes even more important due to the costs involved.

Increase revenue via conversions

Conversion rates are proportional to revenue increases. They measure how often browsers who visit your website make a purchase or take actions that get them closer to making one. Conversion actions aren’t necessarily all about buying. You can invite potential customers to join an email list, subscribe to a newsletter, or join your social media community.

Inviting users to take actions other than purchasing creates opportunities for them to develop a relationship with your brand and recognize you as an authority in your industry. Once they have engaged with your brand in these ways, they might go on to make repeat purchases, increasing revenue.

Improve brand visibility and awareness

Does your brand and logo pop up whenever someone searches for the products or services you offer? If so, you’ve achieved one of the goals of an optimized website. Incorporating SEO best practices improves your brand visibility and awareness.

Here are some things you can do to achieve better visibility:

  • Create new content regularly to post on your website.

  • Write guest blogs for other sites.

  • Invite guest bloggers to write content for your site.

  • Create infographics.

  • Partner with other brands.

  • Get involved in the community.

  • Engage in influencer marketing.

  • Produce interactive content like polls, quizzes, calculators, or checklists.

  • Pay for ads.

Only partner with other brands if their missions are similar to yours; otherwise, reaching their audience won’t help you.

Sponsoring athletic teams or raising funds for a cause is another channel to improve awareness. Associating your brand with a well-known or local athletic team or a worthy charity will extend visibility further.

Improve brand reputation and experience

Your website is your internet billboard for the whole world to see. The things you incorporate to increase brand awareness and visibility will also help with brand reputation and experience.

Website optimization aims to enhance user experience by improving speed, accessibility, and content relevance. The aim is to ensure visitors enjoy a seamless interaction, which fosters positive perceptions, increases engagement, and cultivates trust, ultimately enhancing brand reputation and fostering loyalty among users.

Web accessibility compliance

Businesses must have websites that comply with the American Disabilities Act (ADA). Some websites are designed in a way that can cause barriers to entry and accessibility issues that make them difficult or impossible for people with disabilities to use.

Accessibility is a key part of website optimization. It ensures that everyone, regardless of disabilities, can access and navigate a site effectively. By accommodating diverse needs through features like screen reader compatibility, alternative text for images, and keyboard navigation, businesses expand their potential customer base, enhance inclusivity, comply with legal requirements, and bolster their reputation by demonstrating a commitment to equitable access.

The three pillars of website optimization

You might not know where to start the website optimization process. Knowing which areas to focus on to maximize your website’s potential should help narrow down where to direct your efforts.

1. Experience

How easily users can access and interact with your website can affect your visitor numbers.

For example, website performance can impact the user experience. If webpages take a long time to load, users may not have the patience to continue their interactions, which can lower the perception of the website and brand.

Usability issues like clicking on broken links that cause an error message to pop up or traversing through confusing navigation structures can also impact the traffic your website receives. 

Here are some of the other usability issues you might need to fix:

  • Overwhelming or cluttered visual elements

  • Lack of accessibility features that don’t accommodate people with disabilities or different types of needs

  • Illegible fonts, low contrast, or poor typography

  • A lack of personalization

Another user experience issue might be that the website is not optimized for ease of use on mobile devices. When text is too small to read, pages don’t resize, or buttons are unusable on a phone or tablet, visitors can’t conveniently access information or complete tasks. Not optimizing your site for mobile use can influence your search engine ranking potential.

2. Growth

This area focuses on growing your website’s visibility, traffic, and conversion rate to increase revenue.

Continually monitor and adjust your SEO and conversion rate optimization (CRO) efforts to expand your website’s visibility and traffic flow.

3. Protection

Users rely on and trust that you have the proper protections in place when they visit your website. This means you’ll need to vigilantly uphold high standards to protect their consumer rights, privacy, and data.

Elements of websites to optimize

Each pillar includes elements you should consider for a total website optimization approach. For example, to address the experience pillar, you’ll work on the site’s user experience (UX) design or the part of the website that users interact with.

Here are some examples of elements that you may need to address to improve user experience:

  • Navigational options

  • Buttons

  • Calls to action (CTAs)

  • Visual images and layouts

  • Forms

Incorporate copywriting, SEO, and conversion rate/landing page optimization under the growth umbrella. Increasing your conversion rate by optimizing your landing page performance is key to continued growth.

Landing pages, which aim to boost conversion rates, are created for visitors to “land” on after clicking a link in an email or ad. They usually contain a CTA for the user to perform.

Next, turn your attention to the server aspect of web development, also known as the backend, to address the protection pillar. Ensure you collect as little data from users as possible, use the data you do collect responsibly, and store the data securely.

10 essential website optimization strategies

You now know what you need to improve and the areas and elements of a website to focus on to make those improvements. Next, you’ll need to strategize how to apply optimization techniques.

1. Search intent

User or search intent is the user’s primary goal when typing an inquiry or search phrase into a search engine. The search engine aims to offer results that best match the user’s intent. That’s why it’s important to research advanced-level keywords.

Trying to rank using specific inquiries or phrases isn’t enough. You’ll need to look at the websites currently at the top of the search engine results page (SERP) for particular keyword phrases to see how difficult it would be for your site to rank.

2. Technical SEO

Perform an SEO audit on your website pages’ hierarchical structure. This structure helps users easily find information and helps search engine crawlers understand the relationship between different pages. Here are some things you can check for and correct if you find issues:

  • Status code errors

  • Robot.txt error

  • Site indexing

  • Title tags and meta descriptions

  • Website content

  • Broken links

Status codes indicate whether a specific HTTP request has been completed. This means the browser has received the expected information from the website. An error code is generated if the browser can’t reach a website or webpage.

Robot.txt files tell search engine crawlers the URLs the crawler can access on your site. The crawlers will access your site and perform site indexing, ranking web pages and where they will be placed as search engine results.

Title tags and meta descriptions tell users and search engines what the website is about. They describe the content of each page and how it relates to what the user inputs into the search engine. Outdated or irrelevant content could hurt your rankings in the SERP. Broken links will prevent crawlers from reaching your web pages and frustrate users when they click on them.

3. User experience

The best user experiences come from websites that

  • Satisfy a need

  • Provide value

  • Are easy to use

  • Are easy to navigate

  • Contain design and brand elements that connect with users on an emotional, trustworthy, and like-minded level

Websites need to be accessible to everyone, including those who are blind or have limited vision, color blindness, impaired hearing, or other needs that impede them from submitting forms or using a mouse.

You might change or add elements to make your website more accessible. Here are some examples:

  • Increasing the distinction between the background and text through contrast adjustments

  • Conveying information with other methods besides color cues

  • Adding text alternatives or alt text on images

  • Adding captioning on videos

  • Screen reader labels

  • Error indicators

  • Keyboard navigation capabilities

Making these improvements to your website makes your traffic unlimited. Anyone interested in your product, service, or brand can easily visit and perform tasks on your website.

4. Mobile-first

Google has recently transitioned from desktop-only indexing to indexing and ranking the mobile version of a site’s content first. This is called mobile-first indexing. Google says, “While it’s not required to have a mobile version of your pages to have your content included in Google’s Search results, it is very strongly recommended.”

However, following these best practices can improve your users’ experiences:

  • Create a mobile-friendly site.

  • Make sure Google can access your content.

  • Ensure the content is the same on your desktop and mobile pages.

  • Include structured data (if you have it) in both versions of your site.

  • Add the same metadata to both versions.

  • Check your ad placement.

  • Carefully examine your visual content and videos.

Use a supported format for images and videos and ensure the images are high-quality. Videos on your mobile version should be easy to find and view.

5. Core web vitals

These metrics are ranking factors. They determine healthy websites, focusing on loading experience, interactivity, visual stability of page content, and these three things combined.

6. Schema

Adding schema to a web page creates an enhanced page description that appears in the search results. Schema can offer context and improve the search experience, but it doesn’t impact SERPs.

7. Content marketing

Create a resource center that contains valuable, informative, and entertaining content. Remember to interlink the content.

Links are an important factor when it comes to ranking. Spam links can be identified and will no longer be tolerated, so following link-building best practices will help.

9. Test and document changes

Test changes if you make them to ensure they perform as expected. Not testing your changes may lead to a decrease in clicks. Document the testing process so that you can replicate the tests if needed.

10. Track and analyze KPIs

Key performance indicators (KPIs), such as customer lifetime value (CLV), represent how valuable a customer is to your business. Another useful KPI is revenue per thousand (RPM), meaning the estimated earnings that could result from every 1,000 impressions you receive. Pay attention to these KPIs when deciding whether you need website optimization.

You can use analytic measurements that measure activity and behavior on a website to track and analyze other KPIs, including the following:

  • Content efficiency

  • Average engagement time

  • Conversion goals by percent-based metrics

  • Accurate search visibility

  • Brand visibility in search

  • New and returning users

  • Average time on site

Analytics will reveal how many users visit, how long they stay, how many pages they visit, which pages they see, and whether they came via a specific link or something else.

How to monitor website optimization progress

You’ll need to measure how your website optimization efforts are progressing to make sure they positively impact the user experience and SEO performance. Here are some of the tests you can conduct to see whether optimization is improving:

  • Speed optimization testing

  • Mobile responsiveness testing

  • Broken links testing

  • Usability testing

  • A/B testing

  • Multivariate testing

  • SEO testing

Website optimization essentials

You can use tools to help you monitor tasks and automate tests, enabling you to continually learn how best to optimize your site. Here are some of the things tools can help you with:

  • Website analytics

  • SEO

  • Content optimization

  • Website performance optimization

  • Data privacy management

  • User experience and website accessibility

  • Conversion rate optimization

These tools will help you prevent issues that affect your website’s performance by analyzing test results and providing audit reports to find where the website needs improvement. However, before investing in these tools, you’ll need to make sure they are compatible with your existing digital technologies.

Website optimization challenges

Making changes can present challenges during website optimization. The changes may not always work as you had hoped, or you may accidentally delete something. Changes that create hard drive, hosting, or plugin issues can cause excessive costs and downtime. To prevent issues, get in the habit of backing up your website as regularly as possible. With backups, you can quickly restore the latest version of your site and avoid negative consequences.

Another challenge is that some aspects of website optimization need technical expertise. You may have to hire an outside consultant or web developer to optimize your website performance.

It’s also important to note that website optimization can be time-consuming. It’s an ongoing process throughout a website’s lifetime. Constantly testing, evaluating, writing content, and updating security enhancements are all aspects of site optimization.

Your website is a valuable tool that needs care

Carefully nurturing your website will significantly increase traffic and conversion rates, improving your ROI on advertising and marketing costs. Enhancing customer relationships with your brand through website optimization is investing in the growth of your business and the revenue it generates.

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