Conversion optimization is a tricky topic. Some people view conversion optimization as following a set of best practices to boost your marketing effectiveness. For example, keyword research and optimization, optimizing site design and creating targeted copy are all viewed as conversion optimization best practices. But best practices aren’t the same as actually testing a result, and it’s important to understand the difference – and which one is actually conversion optimization.
Best Practices are Just Guidelines
The “best practices” advised by Web design experts are typically just guidelines or advice that they’ve heard somewhere, supported by anecdotal evidence. Best practices are constantly evolving as search engine algorithms change, and as we come to better understand how people interact with webpages and shop on the Web. What was viewed as a “best practice” last month or last year may be the complete opposite of what the “experts” are proposing today.
The reality is: best practices change as our understanding changes. Best practices aren’t a bad way to begin to optimize your site, but they’re not the same thing as real conversion optimization. True conversion optimization requires testing and tweaking to produce real results.
Testing is the Hard, Cold Truth
The best practices that you’ve learned to optimize your site have probably never actually been tested. Even if they have been tested, it may have been in a different industry or with a different target audience, and their results may not be applicable to your site.
The only true conversion optimization happens when you test your site. Sure, best practices may give you somewhere to go to create a new variant that will hopefully perform better. But creating this new site based on best practices isn’t conversion optimization. Creating a variant, testing it in a controlled test, making tweaks to improve performance and then doing more testing – that is conversion optimization.
When you have analytical data that tells you how a site redesign variant is performing – and when you know you’ve improved the conversion rate of your site based on this analytical data – that’s conversion optimization. Don’t confuse best practices with testing and results.