Content Site Optimization

Most of the blogs and literature that you will see on the Web about site optimization is going to be about e-commerce Web sites. The reason? Anyone can understand your results when you say you’ve increased conversion rate by 20%, thereby seeing an incremental lift in revenue of $100,000 over the next 30 days. The case for optimization here is pretty obvious. This doesn’t mean that content sites and publishers that aren’t selling a product on their site should not be optimizing their sites.

One common excuse on the part of a lot of content and publisher sites is that they are not selling anything. If you are in business and making money while not selling anything, please let me know what business you are in so that I can start one up too! The reality of the situation is that often, it’s just harder to measure revenue from online activities and marketing for a content site or publisher. Your are in fact “selling” some product or service to the visitors to your site, whether or not that “sale” is made online. Once you’ve realized this, you should also realize that your site could be better at selling to its visitors. In order to start optimizing your site, the first step is to identify and track your “converions,” not just basic traffic data. For publishers or lead generation sites, these conversions could include (but are not limited to) any of the following:

  • Page views
  • Ad views
  • Completion of a registration form
  • Registration for a newsletter
  • Completion of a contact form

Once you have identified your conversions on your site, you are ready to optimize your site so that you can get your visitors to view more ads, visit more pages, complete your lead generation forms, and sign up for your newsletter more than ever before.

Many site optimization platforms, such as Omniture Test&Target, will integrate directly with your already existing Web analytics solution, making it even easier to optimize your site since you won’t have to re-tag all of the conversions on your site. All optimization solutions should let you track “non-ecommerce” events in some fashion though, but if you can leverage your existing Web analtyics tagging, you should do so.

In terms of content sites, here are a few tests that you should be running on your content. These are what you might call the low hanging fruit common to a lot of content sites:

  • If running paid search campaigns, test different ways of presenting calls to action for your conversions
  • Test what you have above the fold of your homepage so that you can decrease bounce rate and increase conversions
  • If you have search on your Web site, change how you are presenting search results

These are just a few, very generic options. The options available are unique to every company out there, and you each have your own opportunities to optimize your existing content.

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