Website Optimization: It’s not what you say, but how you say it.

I have been meaning to write a post about the difference between search engine optimization versus website optimization for quite some time.

The main reason being is that I have met some internet marketing collegues who do not yet understand the true meaning (and value!) of “website optimization” or “conversion rate optimization”.

Website Optimization and Search Engine Optimization are NOT the same thing.

Where search engine optimization (SEO) may involve making changes to your actual website, the reasons for the changes are with the intent to help increase your visibility within the search engine ranking pages (SERPS). To understand website optimization, I want to use a story that was forwarded to my inbox earlier today.

It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.

A blind boy sat on the steps of a building with a hat by his feet. He held up a sign which said: “I am blind, please help.” There were only a few coins in the hat.

One passerby took a few coins from his pocket and dropped them into the hat. He then took the sign, turned it around, and wrote some words. He put the sign back so that everyone who walked by would see the new words.

Soon the hat began to fill up. A lot more people were giving money to the blind boy. That afternoon the man who had changed the sign came to see how things were. The boy recognized his footsteps and asked, “Were you the one who changed my sign this morning? What did you write?”

The man said, “I only wrote the truth. I said what you said but in a different way.”
I wrote: “Today is a beautiful day but I cannot see it.”

Both signs told people that the boy was blind. But the first sign simply said the boy was blind. The second sign told people that they were so lucky that they were not blind. Should we be surprised that the second sign was more effective?

Moral of the Story: Be thankful for what you have. Be creative. Be innovative. Think differently and positively.

The Blue Lynx Internet Marketing Moral of the Story: Create alternate versions of your message. Test and measure the effectiveness of various versions of your website content, offers, call to actions, and landing pages.

Not only is this a nice feel good story but it also exemplifies the value of what Website Optimization can do for your business.

    Look at the similarities:

  1. The boy on the sidewalk has foot traffic, you have a certain amount of website traffic.
  2. The boy is requesting help or donations, your website also has (or should have) an offer or call to action.
  3. Some percentage of the traffic is responding to the requests being made – although not as much as either the boy or you would probably like.

Now imagine being able to test two variations of the same page on your website. Half of your traffic would see Headline A while the other half would see Headline B. Everything else on the page is identical except the words you use in the headline. Would you be interested to know if one headline outperformed the other? Just like the boy who started receiving more coins in his hat once the sign changed, your website may also start seeing more conversions once you test different headlines.

Of course, you can test more than just headlines. In many cases, we may decide to test different photographs, different offers, different color buttons, etc. Once you have gathered enough data, you can use the valuable insight to help improve the effectiveness of your traditional marketing as well.

A/B Testing versus Multivariate Testing

Although the more common approach to website optimization is A/B testing, advanced analytics and website optimization software is available to allow for multivariate testing. As the name implies, multivariate testing allows you to test multiple variables at the same time. So instead of testing Headline A vs. Headline B, you may be testing {Headline A with Offer 1} against {Headline B with Offer} 3 against {Headline B with Offer 2} and every mix of possible variables. Obviously multivariate testing is a little more advanced and I usually recommend a company to start with A/B testing.

Famous ad man David Ogilvy once said:

Never stop testing and your advertising will never stop improving.