When you were a student in school, who graded your tests and homework?

Did the teacher let you grade your own?

Of course not. That would be crazy.

So if you grew up your whole life understanding that you can’t grade your own paper because the results would almost certainly be a positively-skewed, inaccurate reflection of your actual performance, as a business professional, why are you doing it now?

“I think our website looks great. I really like the layout!”

Congrats on the A+ grade you gave yourself. But more importantly, do your website visitors like it? Do your customers like it? Do your prospective customers like it? Does Google like it?

In reality, the end users are grading your paper (translation: your website, your messaging, your brand, your content, etc).

You might really like your website. Heck, everyone at your company might be fired up about your website. But it doesn’t matter what you think.

Here are a couple of data points to look at in order to get a more accurate reflection of your website’s grade:

  • What is your bounce rate? According to a benchmark report by Hubspot, your bounce rate should be in the ballpark of 30%. If your business offers a service, a good benchmark is about 10-30%. If you are a retail site, you should shoot for 20-40%. Anything higher than that, and it means your users are not grading your website an A+
  • How many users complete checkout or a conversion process? Your website may have a lot of visitors, but what do they do while they are there? Did they convert in the ways they were supposed to? Are they buying, filling out lead forms, calling, etc.? And at what rate? As with most things, this will vary by traffic source and industry, but if your organic conversion rate is below 15%, you might have a signal that your website isn’t the A+ you might think it is.
  • Check your website’s speed. We all know that a website’s load speed is important. It affects search engine rankings, and, of course, UX. Research shows that 3 seconds is the maximum amount of time you can expect people to wait for your site to load. 53% of people will leave if it takes more than 3 seconds. You can check this grade using Google’s PageSpeed Insights Tool.
  • How are you ranking for the highest volume, highest intent keywords? You might be keeping track of your rankings – or maybe a 3rd party supplies you with a ranking report for certain keywords. But are they the keywords you want to rank for – or the keywords you should be ranking for? Whatever industry you’re in, you can talk the talk, but that doesn’t mean it’s the same language that your customers use. There are many keyword tools that you can use to help you find the keywords in your industry that have high volume AND high purchase intent. Use that data, not your opinion, in your SEO strategy.

The bottom line here is that we’ve all been guilty of judging our marketing efforts based on our own opinions. But to really have a succesful website, SEO strategy, paid search campaign, brand – or whatever it may be – we have to remove our opinions and drop “I think” from our vocabulary.

Using Google Analytics and other tracking and research tools, we should follow the data, understand how users are interacting and make adjustments accordingly, even if that means changes that you don’t personally like or agree with. As you see performance improve, you’ll grow to like it.

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