Optimizing Your Website: Understanding Why You Do What You Do

A guide to understanding popular website optimization advice

28Mar

When the experts tell you to optimize your website, it’s difficult to know exactly what that means. If those instructions sound confusing, you’re probably missing the foundational knowledge that takes time to learn.

Optimization strategies will work even if you don’t know why you’re executing certain tasks. However, understanding how they work is essential. Cookie-cutter strategies can only take you so far. At some point, you’ll need to make independent decisions, and you can only do that when you have a foundation of knowledge.

Here’s how you can understand optimization in a way that ensures you’ll build a strong digital marketing foundation. These tips are designed to help you understand why you’re doing what you do.

1. Spend time learning how search engines operate for better SEO

You can learn an endless amount of SEO tactics; they’re available on every corner of the internet. Even when you know them well, tactics will only take you so far. To interpret your own data and call your own shots, you need to know how it works.

To help you understand what the search engines are doing, Moz.com has a thorough guide on SEO for beginners. If you’ve been involved in SEO for some time, don’t let the word 'beginner' turn you off. You’ll gain a deeper understanding on any subject by reading material aimed at beginners. You’ll also be reminded of important details you already know, but may have forgotten.

For instance, when you understand that Google searches are performed on Google servers, and not the actual web, you’ll understand the absolute importance of generating natural, inbound links to various web pages across your site.

When you understand that Google’s keyword planner isn’t pulling data from their search database, you’ll think twice about using it to generate keywords to focus on for your website. That data is only relative to Google’s ad platform and doesn’t represent what people are actually typing into search engines. Google doesn’t make that information public anymore.

2. Choose your web builder intentionally

Knowing what to do doesn’t do you any good if you can’t figure out where to go to make changes in your web builder. Some builders can be so complex, it takes a series of support emails to learn how to create a new page. If you don’t have any HTML knowledge and need to use a web builder, choose one based on how easily you can implement basic SEO.

For instance, after generating specific tips for optimization, Wix shows you how to make the recommended changes step-by-step. The Wix SEO Wiz will 'walk you through important SEO strategies like using hyperlinks and keyword phrases properly, choosing the right keywords, and adding tags to images. Additionally, Wix gives business owners an in-depth look at mobile optimization.'

This feature appears to be the first of its kind in the content management scene, and it’s no doubt making people’s lives easier. There’s nothing more frustrating than knowing you need to add simple alt tags to some images, but not being able to figure out how to do it.

3. Understand the aim of landing pages

Humans are driven by a desire for pleasure and an aversion to pain. Marketing messages on landing pages are designed to capitalize on this as much as possible.

SEO aside, when people tell you to 'optimize your landing pages,' here’s what that means:

- Does your sales copy speak directly to your target market’s pain or deepest desire? Study the art of writing persuasive copy to learn how to tap into this aspect of optimization.

- Have you removed all site navigation from your sales pages? Navigation is a distraction when the content is designed to convert.

Although some people don’t think it’s necessary, Hubspot split tested their own content and the data shows it’s still important to remove navigation from sales pages. Two of their middle-of-the-funnel landing pages had a 16% and 28% bump in conversions when the navigation was removed. In the same article linked above, Hubspot points out three additional companies that saw great results from removing navigation from their landing pages.

If you have yet to buy a theme, choose one that allows you to easily hide navigation on a page-by-page basis.

Keep learning

Your best investment is in educating yourself about how SEO and digital marketing components work. When you’re armed with knowledge, you can analyze any tactic, tool or guide to determine whether it’s going to work or it’s just a gimmick.

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