There’s more to site optimization than SEO

If you read this blog you probably already know about search engine optimization. But there’s another kind of optimization. One that is just as important (maybe even more important) as being number 1 in Google. That other kind of optimization is performance optimization.

What the heck is performance optimization?

Performance optimization is the practice of observing your visitor traffic data, figuring out why they may or may not be completing the task for which your site was designed and making improvements (optimizations) to your site which help those visitors complete their task.

Here are the three reasons why I think you should be paying as much attention to performance optimization as you pay to search engine optimization.

  1. People who are on your site have proven through their actions that they are interested in something about your site (or advertising content). performance optimization is used to help these higher quality leads.
  2. If the visitors to your site are not completing their task, then increasing visitors (through better search engine rankings, for example) still won’t help your conversions.
  3. You are in control of what is on your website. You have access to your visitor data. You can make your own improvements. Performance optimization is all about things which are within your control that you can do. (Read this one again, just because it feels really good)

Hold on, are you saying I shouldn’t do any SEO?!

Nope. I’m just saying that perhaps you need to do a little performance optimization first. That way, when you get that coveted number 1 slot in Google, all those people coming to your site will be able to accomplish their task instead of getting lost or frustrated.

Sometimes, someone shows me a site that is terrible to use and look at and asks “How can this possibly be number 1 in Google?!?!” (multiple punctuation is usually included in this question). I respond by saying “I wish I knew what their bounce rate was. I bet they are frustrating a lot of customers and damaging their brand.” Then we start working on the parts of our site that we can control in order to help the visitors we get complete their task.

The point is that yes, SEO is important. But if your site is not helping visitors complete their task all the SEO in the world won’t help your business. It will make you feel good about your site visitor number (until you calculate take-rate, that is).

SEO vs Performance Optimization: The recap

Typical goals for Search Engine Optimization:

  • Getting attention for your brand
  • Getting visitors to your site

Typical goals for Performance Optimization:

  • Increasing interest in your service/product
  • Increasing desire for your service/product
  • Making it easy for visitors to complete their task

The rub: like a horse and carriage, you can’t have one without the other. It’s harder to do performance optimization with low traffic and it’s hard to stay in business when droves of people are visiting your site but not converting.

Getting Started in Performance Optimization

I have a series on performance optimization to help get you started.