Website Optimization is a phrase that gets tossed around pretty loosely these days. You’ve probably seen the Facebook Ads, read the e-books, and watched the videos. You know how important it is to optimize your website. But if you’re like most people, that’s the extent of your knowledge.
What does it all mean?
Okay, so you’ve heard it before, but- what does it all mean? Is website optimization some grandeur concept that only elite experts and top-paid agencies can achieve? Why aren’t the efforts you’ve put into your website paying off?
If you’ve asked yourself these questions, don’t worry: you’re not alone. In fact, I get asked these questions daily. The truth is, the term website optimization is more complex than some “gurus” would like you to think. Most of the time, even talking about it makes some people nervous.
So, let’s take a step back and talk about from a simpler perspective.
What does it actually mean to optimize your website?
Let’s break it down
To break things down, I’m going to divide “website optimization” into digestible sub-categories. This way, we can focus on each category individually when it matters.
It’s no secret that myriad variables must be considered when it comes website optimization. Generally speaking, the term website optimization refers to five core categories (possibly six, read on). Let’s take a look at each of these categories and talk about what they mean.
- Performance Optimization focuses on your page load times and site content structure.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) utilizes on- and off-site techniques to boost your search rankings.
- Security Optimization ensures your site is up-to-date, secured, and monitored at all times.
- Conversion Optimization relates to tweaking your website’s content to get more subscribers, leads, etc.
- E-Commerce Store Optimization focuses on boosting your on-site sales via organic buying opportunities.
A sixth category that’s becoming increasingly popular is Funnel Optimization. A “funnel” refers to the buying process that companies lead customers through when purchasing products on their websites. Funnel Optimization refers to optimizing various aspects of your website to lower your cost per lead (CPL) and increase conversions.
Together, as one
Together, these six categories make up what is generally known as, “website optimization”. The secret to truly killing it online is understanding how to affect, manipulate, and optimize each of these six categories.
Within each of these categories are “opportunities”. Opportunities are virtual tasks that a website audit shows can improve your website’s overall performance. This may include optimizing site content, fixing code files, compressing graphics, restructuring your databases, moving your web hosting, or a combination of all these things.
If your website is audited by our Site Wizards, the first thing we do is run several FREE reports. One of these reports is the in-browser Google Lighthouse audit. This gives us valuable information we use to create a customized optimization plan based on tangible data. In the report, there are several items, also referred to as opportunities, that Google recommends in order for the site to become fully optimized.
Now, the Nitty Gritty
Now that we know what website optimization is and how we can kickstart our optimization efforts, let’s get a bit more granular.
There are several actionable items you and your Site Wizards can do to optimize your websites. Knowing what we know now about website optimization, I hope this begins to shed some light on the fact that optimizing and managing a website truly takes time and expertise. You could try and design your own website or hire a cheap web designer to do it, but that is not what’s going to get you RESULTS.
To achieve ultimate website optimization, consider these 9 “spells” our Site Wizards use on a daily basis. Executing each of these items will help to greatly improve your website’s performance, search rankings, and conversions. We know because we’ve done it hundreds of times over. Now, it’s for you to learn the secret “spells”, too!
1. Focus On A Niche
This may sound more like a marketing tip than a website optimization technique, but it’s extremely important to consider. When you find and focus on a niche you can create hyper-targeted content that speaks directly to your intended audience.
For example, if your goal is to sell your hand-made beauty products through your website, start by doing some research. Find out which single product is selling the best this season. Then, find out who’s buying the products. Where are they buying from? How many are they buying? Who are they buying them for?
This may sound like overkill, but too much data is never a bad thing. Especially when it comes to optimizing your website.
Use the data you find in your reports to find a niche and optimize your site content to offer unbeatable value to your target demographic.
2. Create An Offer That Sticks
Above, I mentioned creating an unbeatable offer based around your niche. I used a beauty products distributor as an example. In this example, I’ll use the popular video streaming service, Netflix.
While Netflix appeals to a mass market, their website is a perfect example of how to create a killer offer. Netflix is laser-focused on delivering an optimized user experience to their core demographic. They’ve created an offer that appeals to a mass market. Because of that, they’ve captivated the viewing time for millions of consumers worldwide. After all, everyone loves FREE!
By offering a free one month trial to its service for new customers, Netflix knows they will then have the opportunity to pull in the customer further by offering targeted content, custom recommendations, and new titles released daily.
When you find your niche, as Netflix has done so well, it becomes centrical to create a killer offer. A/B testing your offer to try different offers and see which one performs the best.
3. Use Custom Content
Finding a niche and creating an unbeatable offer isn’t going to work if you don’t create top-notch, custom content when possible. Adding stock graphics to your site and copying and pasting text from other sites or pages may save time, but it will do nothing for you in terms of website optimization. In fact, using stock graphics or videos, reusing existing copy, or taking shortcuts when it comes to your site’s content will only hurt your SEO scores and performance.
That’s because Google prefers original content that your target demographic finds useful. If Google finds that your website is just a mirror of another site, or uses stock graphics that haven’t even been compressed, your going to appear unfavorably in relevant search results.
Aside from taking a hit on your search rankings, this also increases your bounce rates and conversion costs, as well as decreases your favorability score with your site visitors.
4. Compress Your Graphics
This is something that matters more than you’d think. On average, a website that properly compresses their graphics has 13% faster load time than its non-optimized counterpart when compared side-by-side. Needless to say, it’s important to compress your images.
There are some great and free compression tools available. One great tool we use is Compressor.io. Regardless of which tool you use, the point is to compress ALL of your images prior to uploading them to your server.
5. Update Software Regularly
One thing that’s commonly overlooked by business owners after their sites launch is keeping their software updated. Most people think that once their site launches unless they need anything “changed” on their website, they won’t need to do anything. That’s a big mistake.
Not updating your plugins, theme files, SSL certificates, and other software can leave your site vulnerable to malicious attacks. It can also lead to broken site links, server errors, and other issues that may cause your site visitors to experience downtime. The consequences of running outdated software are many, but this isn’t something just anyone should do. Plugins on your website may be customized. If you run an update that’s incompatible with certain customizations, it will break your site. For this reason, it’s always best to speak with your Site Wizard about updating your plugins and other software.
6. Use High-Performance Hosting
These days, it’s too easy to find reliable, cloud-based web hosting for your website. Cloud hosting is performance hosting at its best. Examples of popular cloud hosting platforms include Amazon AWS, Liquid Web, and Microsoft Azure. Cloud hosting provides your server with its own, dedicated IP address rather than a shared IP.
Whether you’re on a private cloud or public cloud server, performance is oftentimes generally better than shared hosting plans.
Aside from the type of hosting you choose, your hosting provider will have more information on what optimizations are included with your hosting.
7. Drive Traffic To Your Site
Contrary to the popular Field of Dreams quote, “if you build it”, they will NOT come… unless you tell them how to! Sure, you may have a beautiful website that is optimized for search and performance. But, unless you tell people how to find your website, it will become a barren desert that gets no page hits, generates no leads, and provides no value to your business.
The most popular ways people drive traffic to their websites is through social media advertising, search engine advertising, and Facebook Groups. There are certainly free ways to drive traffic to your website, but the most effective way is to run hyper-targeted paid ads.
8. Automate Everything
If there are things you can automate on your site, such as auto-sending emails to site admins when someone fills out a contact form, do it! The popular tracking code we know as “Cookies” provide you with a great way to track users on your website and retarget them in your PPC campaigns.
Other ways to automate your website may include the following:
- Developing an extensive FAQs section so users rely on your LIVE support agents less
- Using an intelligent chatbot to close sales and answer support questions when LIVE agents are offline
- Integrating lead forms with your customer relationship manager (CRM) of choice
9. Constantly Analyze & Iterate
The most important thing you can do to achieve ultimate website optimization is to iterate constantly based on data. Tools like Google Analytics, as well as Site Assembly’s Optimization Tools, provide you with data you can use to create an optimization plan.
To learn more about Google Lighthouse Audits, click here.