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Test First, and then Keep Testing

     You have made your own web site, and you are satisfied with your work. Your site is up, so now it's time to make money! Well..., slow down a bit. Before spending big bucks on advertising, let's test your web site. You may be in love with your site, but that doesn't mean web surfers will love it, too.

Your Very First Test

     Testing your web site is much easier than the final exams you took in school. First, you have to be able to track your visitors because how visitors browse your site can tell you its strengths and weaknesses. For your initial testing, your server's log file is sufficient, but you will eventually need some sort of visitor tracking software or service.

     Once you have figured out how to track you visitors, buy some cheap ad space. Your first ad doesn't have to produce heavy traffic to your site. If it generates 30-50 visitors, that's fine. More than 90% of visitors (those who actually come to your site, not those who see your ad) should view pages on your site other than your home page, and 40-50% of them should subscribe to your newsletter. If these numbers are too low on your site, there is something wrong with your site. Before going to any farther, you must correct the problems. Once you get good numbers, you are finally ready to roll.

Keep Testing

     That's not the end; that's just the beginning. You can test almost every step in running your business. For example, you can test your ad copy. You can run one ad in an inexpensive but targeted location, and see how it turns out. If it turns out good, use that ad copy. If it doesn't, revise the copy and test it again. You can even run more than one ad at a time using different copy for each ad. Testing may sound like too much work, but just think how many extra sales you will make with better ad copy.

A Tip

     A "?" can be very handy for getting accurate tracking results. Suppose your URL is "www.yoururl.com" and you want to track ads to see how much traffic they are sending to you. Instead using "www.yoururl.com" for the link, use "www.yoururl.com/?123" or "www.yoururl.com/index.html?123". Anyone who clicks that link will still see your home page, www.yoururl.com, but your log counts that visit as a hit to "www.yoururl.com/?123". You can tell where visitors come from by the codes after "?". You can code any combination of any letters and numbers after the "?" for each ad. You just need to keep track of which code represents which ad campaign.

     Testing takes time, but the test results help you pinpoint any problems. If you don't know you have a problem, you can't do anything with it. Instead of increasing, your profit will decrease.

     Let testing be your habit. When you work with the problem, you can improve your business. You won't make the same mistake again and again.

© October, 2002