Adapting and growing are essential for success in life and business, and internet marketing is no exception. A well-executed website launch takes time, and that's only the beginning. Website owners must constantly evaluate their site and make changes to satisfy customers and search engine algorithms. A challenge that website owners often face to making necessary changes is that they've grown attached to the site the way it is. Data and tests can help identify the areas of a site that need work. Here are five tests that website owners should run to improve their SEO and conversion rates.
- SEO Analysis
A website should be built with SEO in mind. This means following all the best practices concerning URLs, headers, high-quality content, and so on. For a good refresher, read this article with advanced SEO strategies business owners can use. Once a site is launched, running the site through an SEO checker can ensure that all the major elements are handled. On a site with dozens of pages, it's easy to miss a header or to leave off the alt-text for an image. These things won't break the site, but in the highly-competitive world of SEO, every little bit counts. There are a lot of free SEO checkers available which will find the basic SEO issues, but more advanced tools can help uncover issues you wouldn't have known to look for. Also some issues can't be detected without in-depth analysis.
- A/B Testing
A/B Testing sounds simple because it is simple. Essentially, website owners create multiple versions of their site and see what version gets the most clicks and has the highest conversions. What makes A/B Testing so useful, besides its simplicity, is how much affect small changes can have on click through and conversion rates. Some things to consider changing are: color schemes; typeface; images; call-to-action buttons; headlines; and the list goes on. There are many ways that a site can be varied for A/B Testing, so the progress will be ongoing. Google and Facebook, among many other businesses, use A/B Testing extensively to try new layouts or features before deciding to move forward or keep things the way it is. A/B Testing gives business owners and webmasters objective data they can use to make decisions about design elements for a site.
- Mobile Compatibility/Friendliness Test
Mobile devices are at the forefront of the modern internet revolution. Smartphones and tablets allow consumers to access the internet at almost any time or place. As has been discussed in previous articles, mobile friendliness is now a ranking for Google's mobile search, so ensuring mobile friendliness is more important now than ever. There are several tools that can be used to test a site's mobile compatibility, but the best tools to use are the ones currently provided by Google. In the run up to the mobile search algorithm update that made mobile friendliness a ranking factor, Google was telling everyone who would listen to use their new tool to let them know if site was good or not. Since getting Google's "Mobile-Friendly" label as well as appease their SEO algorithm, it makes sense to use their tool to test mobile compatibility. Of all the tests mentioned in this article, mobile friendliness matters the most.
- Speed Test
"Fast" is a relative term. Computers and the internet have always been about speed and redefining what consumer thought of as speed. Consumers have high expectations for website performance in the age of broadband and high-speed mobile internet. Though a bit dated, a 2013 study showed that most consumers will leave a site if it takes longer than 8 seconds to load. In other words, a site needs to load faster than the time it takes a drunk guy to fall off the mechanic bull. While of things about loading times depend on the user's computer and internet connection, there are things that website owners can do to make sure their sites load as quickly as possible on a person's browser. Like the SEO test, a Speed Test goes through a site and identifies areas where speed-boosting improvements can be made. This can range from lowering the size of images to clearing site caches. The Speed Test will find the little things that slow down a site so customers don't get tired of waiting and go somewhere else.
- Term Frequency and Inverse Document Frequency (TF-IDF)
Search engine algorithms have become much more advance than they were in the past and the algorithms are tightly held by search engines to prevent abuse. With so little information to work with, how can business owners know what works on Google for their type of site and industry? The answer is a Term Frequency and Inverse Document Frequency (TF-IDF) Test. Though website owners don't know certain pages made it to the top 10, they can look at those pages and search for similarities between then. What TF-IDF tests do is analyze the top pages for keywords or phrases that are in those pages that aren't in subject page. This way, if seven of the top 10 pages for a search query have a references to "XYZ", it's a good sign that Google considers "XYZ" to be important for that query. It's not perfect, but it's the best tool marketers have for looking into the Google algorithm black box. It's a good way to find out what your site is missing and discover new keywords or phrases to use in website copy. TF-IDF analyses can be challenging, but there are tools that can handle this analysis in some SEO software suites.
For more website building tips, read this article on the steps for a perfect retail website launch.