Sunday, May 13, 2007

What does Website Optimization mean?

What does word "Optimization" or "Website Optimization" mean to you? I asked this question a while ago on the yahoo web analytics group. The reason I asked this question was because I came across and article on Media post (Google Tries To Redefine Optimization ) where author was questioning the name of the tool that Google was calling “Website Optimizer”. According to the author “Website Optimization” means making sites naturally position well in Google and not a tool for doing multivariate or A/B testing.

I thought I had a clear idea of what an optimization or Website optimization mean but after reading this article I was not sure if everybody has the same definition of Website optimization. Just do a search on Website Optimization on Google and you will see what I mean, you will find that this query yields paid searches from Search Engine Optimization companies, A/B Testing companies and company which allows optimizing load time of your site.

According to Merriam Webster dictionary Optimization is an act, process, or methodology of making something (as a design, system, or decision) as fully perfect, functional, or effective as possible; specifically : the mathematical procedures (as finding the maximum of a function) involved in this

So in terms of website it translates into an act or process or methodology of making a website as fully perfect, functional or effective as possible. Website optimization is a continuous process of improving a site to achieve business goals while delivering a great user experience. Web Site Optimization include
1. Serving websites faster and uptime of the site
2. Search engine optimization (SEO)
3. Campaign optimization (media optimization, A/B testing, multivariate testing)
4. Landing page optimization (A/B testing, multivariate testing)
5. Conversion rate optimization (A/B testing, multivariate testing)
6. Website design
7. Usability

As you can see all the above aspects are managed by different people (or organizations). Depending on who you ask you will get a different definition of Website Optimization. Their role in the organization influences how they think about optimization which results in different definitions. All the people are correct in their definition however each definition alone is too narrow

The people responsible for different pieces of website optimization do not understand the complete picture and are locked in their own definition of website optimization. The writer of this article (Google Tries To Redefine Optimization) probably had SEO background and hence he had a different definition than a web analyst would have. I can see how then name Website Optimizer can be confusing to a lot of people since it covers only one aspect of website optimization.

As a web analyst you should be aware of (and involved in) all the aspects of website optimization and only then you can develop a continuous process to improve the site. By being involved does not mean you have to actually do it but you have to make sure the web analytics data is driving the decisions. It should also be your responsibility to educate all stakeholders about how best to optimize the site based on the data. You have to act as glue, connecting different aspects of optimization.


Sidebar: Here are the response I got from the yahoo web analytics group users

I intended to write this post a long time back but got caught up in other things and now finally I found sometime so there it is.

2 comments:

  1. hi, Anil, how are you?

    I think I'm in agreement with you:

    Website Optimisation is the process of incrementally bringing a site closer to achieving its objectives. Analytics should be used to figure out whether you're improving/diminishing your success with each change you make.

    Not sure I'd give the same definition tomorrow, but that's my off-the-top-of-the-head response right now!

    daniel

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  2. Having a background in both SEO and multivariate testing I think Google is definitely creating unnecessary confusion amongst analysts who know SEO and multivariate testing...even though they were probably trying to make it easy for people who don't know about either.

    1. They're breaking existing nomenclature in the industry by naming a multivariate testing tool an optimizer.

    2. While multivariate testing strives to optimize a certain conversion event by finding the optimal web page, it harly optimizes a whole website at once...unless you sell one product or have one objective and you have 1-2 pages in your site. Therefore using website in the name s equally erroneous.

    I think it's better to stay within the accepted nomenclature since their product is not new or challenging conventions, only challenging price points.

    Google is clearly trying to expand their reach in the space by using a simple name since few people are familiar with multivariate testing. And I also assume there is some hidden agenda for google to dissuade customers from SEO since it makes more room for paid search...but I always assume google has an evil plot brewing.

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I would like to hear your comments and questions.