According to web credibility research from Stanford, 75% of users admit to making judgments about a company’s credibility based on their website design. Your website plays an important role in determining whether a person buys from you or not. Web design and optimization can directly impact your business. Even increasing your website conversion by 1% can lead to an increase in overall revenue, monthly leads, and new customers.
What is Website Optimization?
Website optimization means using experiments, strategies, and tools to drive traffic, increase conversions, and improve your website’s overall performance. With almost 1.8 billion websites in existence (and counting!), it makes sense to employ all possible strategies to get your product and/or services in front of interested eyeballs. That’s essentially what optimization is: using techniques to improve your search rankings so your site comes up higher on search engine results pages (SERPs).
Conversion refers to the number of people who take action (e.g. make a purchase, subscribe/sign up, download a document, etc.) on your website. Conversion rates differ depending on the industry, but the average conversion rate is just over 2%. But regardless of the industry, before worrying about driving traffic to your site, it’s a good idea to focus on increasing your conversion rate.
Why Optimize Your Website?
Your website is a portal to your entire business. Optimizing your site and getting it to perform better equals more traffic as well as an increase in the number of leads and sales generated through your website.
You can design your website to convert more actions into sales by mastering the basics. It seems like a no-brainer, but it’s worth mentioning: first impressions matter. A professional, functional, streamlined appearance, and intuitive interface with a clear, simple design typical of your industry can make all the difference.
Best Practices for Increasing Conversions on Your Website
Now that you have some understanding of why to optimize your website, let’s dig into some actions and details that can have a major impact on improving your website performance and increasing conversions.
Keep it Simple
It may seem obvious, but clarity and simplicity can take your website far. By utilizing a clear and compelling headline, subheadline, and banner image, you’re immediately showing what kind of business you are and what benefits users get from choosing your products or services.
A banner image is the very first thing visitors to your website see when they arrive. Make sure it’s relevant to your products or services and adequately represents your brand. For example, if you’re a chiropractic office, a banner image of a forest might leave visitors confused, and confusion often leads users to navigate away.
Your homepage does a lot of different things. While it can ultimately lead to other pages for different targeted audiences so you can address the needs of different buyer personas, the homepage is where everyone visiting your site, from customers to potential customers to potential employees, begins their experience. Keep critical information on your homepage “above the fold”—in other words, have it show up first so people don’t have to scroll.
Include Seamless Navigation
In addition to being clear, a surefire way to keep users on your site once they land there is making sure the navigation is seamless. Use concise and descriptive language. Not doing so can lead to frustration and visitors leaving your site. Make sure that your most important menu items are right on top. Making individual pages easy to find is critical, as is being able to easily return to the homepage from any page on your site.
Breadcrumbs or a breadcrumb trail is a way for visitors to keep track of where they are within your site. Normally situated at the top of the website, breadcrumbs show graphically where users are, which assists with navigation, especially for Ecommerce sites. Breadcrumbs also help search engines index your site, which contributes to optimization.
Have a Compelling Value Proposition
A value proposition is simply letting visitors to your site know why your business, product, or brand is the best choice for them. As soon as visitors arrive, they should know what you’re offering. Elements that create a compelling value proposition include highlighting the problem that you’re going to solve, showcasing the solution on your website, and speaking to potential objections so you can ease any fears and get potential customers closer to a “yes.” Delivering high-quality content, great copy, and attractive design also helps ensure your value proposition is being well-received.
Include Clear Calls to Action
Calls to action (CTAs) are prompts that encourage those visiting your website to do something. That “something” can be things like asking users to subscribe to your email list, make a purchase, download a document, or follow you on other social media platforms. CTAs are what push visitors to your website to be less passive and ultimately turn into customers.
CTAs will be different depending on the industry or business but no matter the field, they help guide visitors to take action. Including a call to action on every page of your website (preferably “above the fold” on your homepage so they don’t have to scroll) will encourage engagement, invite connection, and grow your business.
It’s a great idea to include testimonials on your homepage and throughout your site. Testimonials influence users and help them make buying decisions. By referencing people and other well-known companies who have used or liked your products or services, you are providing social capital which increases your credibility. Providing social proof by adding company logos and sharing where your products or services were featured makes it easier for people to do business with you.
Offer a Guarantee
One way to optimize your website to keep visitors interested and engaged is by offering a guarantee. A guarantee shows you stand by the quality of your products and services and value your customers’ satisfaction. Examples might include a 100% satisfaction guarantee, 30-day guarantee, a money-back guarantee, or a forever guarantee. Offering a guarantee gives you a competitive advantage. Best of all, it doesn’t have to be financial! It can be a “happiness guarantee,” meaning something that would be attractive to your target audience without costing your business much money. Think about what you can offer your customers and what kind of guarantee fits best into your brand.
Ensure Your Site is Mobile Friendly
According to a 2020 Statista report, mobile devices generated about half of all website traffic globally. Since more people than ever are using their phones rather than desktop or laptop computers, it’s critical to design your site to be as mobile-friendly as possible. While websites used to be made for desktop experiences, now, it’s a much better idea to design first for mobile and then make it compatible for desktop. If you don’t have a mobile-friendly and mobile-optimized website, you need to take action immediately to ensure it is navigable for mobile use. There are plenty of ways to test your website’s mobile-friendliness. Do yourself a favor and take a look and make any changes necessary. These seemingly simple fixes can have a large impact on your SEO rankings, user satisfaction, and overall business.
Improve Your Site Speed
How often have you waited around for a site to load vs. navigating away from it? Site speed is critical when it comes to conversions. According to a study by the Aberdeen Group, a one-second delay in page load times yields 11% fewer page views, a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction, and a 7% loss in conversions.
A best practice when it comes to optimizing your page for the most successful user experience possible is speed. Both site page and page speed are important when it comes to your website. Sites and pages that load slowly have a higher bounce rate and visitors simply don’t stay on pages that take a long time to load. Ensuring both your whole site and individual pages within are going as fast as possible will help your business. You can even conduct speed tests to see how your pages stack up and what you can do to improve rates.
Highlight Website Security
One of the biggest elements of building a successful and reputable online persona, business, and community regardless of the industry is creating a feeling of trust with those who visit your website. While you won’t be interacting with them face-to-face, you can create a sense of relatability and security by creating a safe and reliable website experience. This means demonstrating expertise within your niche and being a thorough authority on subjects within your field.
You can cultivate a sense of trustworthiness and website security by ensuring you have an encrypted site (using https vs. http) and no technical issues like broken links and outdated information.
Streamline the Checkout Process
If you have an Ecommerce site, make sure you have an easy checkout process that is as streamlined as possible. Again: keep it simple. Even if you aren’t selling something, if you’re trying to gather names and information for your email list, make it as simplified as you can. The more information you request, the less inclined people will be to provide it. Start with just collecting their name, phone number, and email address. You can always get more information later.
Optimize Thank You Pages & Exit Intent Offers
Along with an easy checkout system, consider incorporating a thank you page and an exit offer to your website. A thank you page is what appears after someone has completed a purchase. It thanks them for making the purchase and can often provide an opportunity to share (for example, “let people on Facebook know” with a chance to share across platforms. Having that follow-up keeps people on your site longer and can lead to a conversion.
Exit offers are extras you can include to sweeten the prospect of shopping with you again, such as free shipping, a free gift, a coupon (such as 5% to 20% off), or even freebies such as a download or other information. Incentivizing completing a purchase or having a last-minute exit intent offer that comes up as users may be about to leave your site can help people decide to take action and lead to conversions. Research shows that after beginning to display exit-intent popups, business owners “get a 341% increase in email list subscribers, 290% increase in form building efforts, 53% of abandoning visitors back, and 4.1% increase in sales conversions.” With numbers like that, why not give an exit intent offer a try?
Incorporate Video Content
A 2018 HubSpot survey found that 54% of consumers wanted to see more video content from a brand or business they support. Use that knowledge to your advantage and add videos to your site to boost follower interaction. Since video can greatly impact your conversion rate, think about adding some in the form of testimonials, tutorials, or information about your brand. You can even use videos to speak directly to your audience on your “about us” page or have videos showcasing customers’ experiences with your products or services. Use video as a way to connect with your audience and build community online.
Include a Live Chat Option
Adding a live chat option to your site can help people get their questions answered and impact their decision-making process. Think about it: how often have you preferred to use the live chat on a website to ask a question rather than send an email or make a call? Providing this service can keep visitors to your website from leaving. Kayako found that 79% of businesses said implementing live chat resulted in increased customer loyalty, sales, and revenue. While the cost of adding a live chat option will differ depending on the plan, most plans start at as little as $16 per month—a small cost for a large reward. Try implementing a live chat today and see what kind of difference it makes.
Measure & Monitor
Use online tracking like Google Analytics to track your site so you know where you’re doing well and where to improve. Using analytics can help you see clearly if you’re attracting your target demographic, meeting your goals for conversions, as well as where you’re losing users. Analytics can help you learn and understand more about the flow of your site and how users navigate it.
You can use analytics to measure your visitors’ experiences from the moment they enter your website to the time they leave. You can track valuable information such as how they found your site, who purchased something, what pages your visitors looked at, how they moved through the site, and so much more. And while it’s important to know where your website and business is thriving, it’s also critical to understand where you’re falling short and losing customers. Using analytics and listening to consumer feedback can help with that, too.
Implement a Cart Abandonment Strategy
Calculated data from 41 different studies and found that the average cart abandonment rate is just under 70%. At this rate, it’s critical to have a cart abandonment strategy in place. Since most users do not take action immediately, think about putting strategies in place to keep nourishing the relationship. Many of these tips are some of the best practices mentioned earlier in this article, including offering incentives like guest checkout, free shipping, a streamlined checkout process for shoppers, guarantees, and a live chat.
Career Paths for Website Optimization Specialists
One of the most rapidly-growing industries today is digital marketing. Considered part of the digital marketing sector, website optimization knowledge can be an asset to entrepreneurs and owners of businesses both large and small. Figuring out what makes a website truly successful and then analyzing the data collected from your online marketing efforts can make your business more efficient more quickly than almost anything else.
Because of this influx in the digital marketing industry, there are ample career opportunities for those with a background in web optimization. According to Indeed, the average base salary across the United States for Web Optimization Specialists is around $64K annually—though that number may change depending on location. Web Optimization Specialists analyze web traffic, data, and user behavior and make targeted recommendations to increase and improve user engagement. They often work with web developers and designers.
Those with an understanding of web optimization along with experience managing other digital professionals can consider looking for jobs as Marketing Managers. This position comes with a salary of about $63K across the country. Marketing Managers oversee teams who work to grow a company’s business.
Another position where web optimization skills would be used daily is as a Digital Strategist. Digital Strategists work on projects like websites, social media, SEO, and digital marketing. They look for opportunities for growth and help clients create content and plan for new website releases. On average in the United States, Digital Strategists can expect to make around $61K a year, again with numbers ranging higher or lower depending on location.
For a comprehensive look at what it takes to become a Web Optimization Specialist and what the day-to-day professional experience is like, check out this resource from Noble Desktop.
Learn Website Fundamentals & Optimization
Digital marketing classes teach how to use your website to your advantage. Those ready to dive into the field can check out Noble Desktop’s digital marketing courses or web design classes. You can attend these programs in-person at Noble Desktop’s New York City headquarters or attend live online courses in digital marketing and web design from anywhere in the world. You can also find other web design and digital marketing courses, bootcamps, and certificate programs in your area using Noble Desktop’s Classes Near Me tool.
For a more comprehensive look at digital marketing strategies, take a look at Noble’s Digital Marketing Strategies bootcamp. The bootcamp is a 12-hour course that delves into the important role website fundamentals and optimization plays in a company’s overall success. Students will complete hands-on projects and learn ways to improve their company’s website for conversions, including how to develop a user-friendly website structure, elements of a successful homepage, using persuasion in design, and best practices for product pages.
The bootcamp is also offered as part of the 78-hour Digital Marketing Certificate, which delves deeper into each aspect of digital marketing including how to monitor and report on your website performance, increase your website’s organic search positions, and optimize your landing pages for conversions. You even get free retakes for one year!
Other web optimization resources offered by Noble Desktop include its digital marketing blog which has detailed articles about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Google Analytics, among others. You can also check out Noble’s free Website Fundamentals & Conversion Optimization seminar on YouTube.