Setting Up A/B Testing in Visual Website Optimizer


Every business website owner wants visitors that convert. This conversion rate is the rate at which your website converts or changes its visitors into buyers or whatever you want the visitor to do. But how do you know what elements are converting?

Visual Website Optimizer is a testing tool for marketers. It allows them to create different versions of their website or landing page with a simple point-and-click editor. They can then see which version gets the best conversion rates.


What is A / B testing?                                                       

If Your Website Was a Piano…A/B testing is often called split testing. It is the process of comparing two different versions of a web page to find out which one is performing the best.  What happens in an A/B test is you take two web pages showing the different variations to the same types of visitors at the same time. The one that you find giving you the best conversion rates is the one that you go with.

For example you create two different headlines to sell a product. One is headline A while the other is headline B. One half of your visitors see headline A, the other half sees headline B. Your results come from the number of orders you get from each headline. This can easily be done with Visual Website Optimizer software.

By measuring the performance of the two separate variations you are determining the rate of the site converts visitors to your goal.


What should you test?

Just about any element on a website can be A/B tested. For instance, headlines and sub headlines can be easily tested to see which ones work better. Testing the paragraph text, the content near the fold or the images through A/B testing can change your conversion results. Where the testimonials, social proof, any media mentions or awards are placed on your site can be tested. Links, call to action button or text should be tested as well.

With more advanced tests in the Visual Website Optimizer program you can test such things as sales promotions, your pricing structures, the ease of a user’s navigation and the free trial lengths.


Make the most of it

Test big changes first. The advantage here is that you will get quicker results. Test any changes in two stages. First fix all the things that your usability testing show are broken. Then test any new ideas you have. Do the background research needed to understand your visitor’s behavior. This is done with Google Analytics and other analytic tools on your website.

Schedule tests for a later date and time. This option is available in the “Other Settings” section. Always calculate the number of visitors you need for your test before you begin the test.  This can be done with the A/B Test Duration Calculator.


Use a 302 (temporary redirect) when running an A/B test that requires a redirect from the original URL to a new variation of the URL. That way the search engines know it’s only a temporary redirect so they keep the original URL in their index.

Run the experiment only as long as necessary. The amount of time required depends on different factors like the amount of traffic you get to your website.  The Visual Website Optimizer program tells you when you have gathered enough data. Once the test is concluded, update your site with the variations you want and remove the alternate URL and the testing scripts you placed on your site.


How to set up your first A/B test

Setting up your first A/B test takes less than 10 minutes. If it’s your first time using Visual Website Optimizer, login and enter your main website’s URL.

Then click on the Testing tab and then the A/B link.


Enter your URL. Click to enter test.


Your website is then loaded into the visual editor. This is where you can click on the website to begin making changes by moving elements or editing text.

The easy point-and-click system means you don’t need to know HTML coding to edit any element or area of your page. If you are an advanced user you can make changes to CSS and JS code as well.


If you need ideas on what to change, click on the ideas tab. This section gives tips for changing headlines, links call to action buttons, and many other elements as well as ecommerce elements.

Click next when you are finished changing elements. Your changes will be saved as a variation.

Next you need to choose the goals you have for the visitor actions you want to track in this test. If you edited certain elements in the WYSIWYG, you may already have your goals listed here. Click nest to move to the next step.

Every A/B test should have goals on what conversion rates you want to increase. It can be as simple as the clicks on a link or the number of visits to a page or more advanced using custom conversion code.


In the next step you should enter your test parameters. If you are using a separate URL for testing it needs to go here. Also enter your test variables and other notes. Give your test a name.

Click “Create Your Test”.


If you haven’t already installed the tracking code you will get an error here saying the test cannot be created. The code will be on this page. You can copy it and paste it into your website where Visual Website Optimizer suggests, have a developer install it or have the Javascript self-hosted. Another option is to install the Visual Website plugins for WordPress, Drupal and Joomla. The plugin makes the installation process easy. Start your test again and begin tracking your test. You can see your test under the reports page.

That’s all there is to creating an A/B test in Visual Website Optimizer. The test helps website owners create two variations of their website and track the conversions from each one. The software works in real time so you know the information gathered is current. Once you make changes and analyze which elements are converting better, you can make the changes on your website.

Top 10 Tips for Creating an Editorial Calendar


If magazine editors waited for inspiration or for free time, no magazine would ever get published.  So how do they churn out high quality content, month after month?

By using an editorial calendar.  And top bloggers have learned this secret too.

An editorial calendar is a plan for producing regular written or media content, at regular intervals (e.g. monthly) at a perfect pace.  It leaves you with deadlines you can use as a roadmap. You won’t have gaps in your postings and there’s no chance for people to forget who you are or give up on your blog.

And it can help eliminate writer’s block and reactivity – the sort that leaves you realizing you forgot that your readers and subscribers were expecting Part Three of your series… yesterday!

1.  Use the Method that Works Best With Your Learning Style

An editorial calendar is only useful if you use it.  And if you set up a physical calendar that doesn’t work with your natural learning style, you’re more likely to forget to use it… or even, ultimately, abandon it.

a)    If you are a kinesthetic learner who likes the hands-on approach, a paper calendar may be your best option.  (Tip:  You will most likely to be able to find plain desktop calendars with large enough slots to be useful in your local Dollar Store.)

Just be sure to put it in a place where you are likely to see it, rather than hiding it away in a desk.

b)    If you are an aural learner, make an audio recording of your upcoming schedule.

c)    If you are a visual learner, paper or digital will work – it’s just a matter of preference

d)    If you are a read/write learner, a dated, chronological list format will probably work better for you than a graphic calendar format.

If you want to find out or confirm your ideal learning style, try one of the free online questionnaires or quizzes, such as the VARK model.


(No sign-up required for the basic assessment.)


2.  Create and Coordinate Monthly and Annual Calendars

Many people find that two versions of their editorial schedule work best:

  • A monthly calendar (e.g. WordPress Editorial Plugin)
  • An annual calendar (manual or digital)

The reason for this?  On your Annual Editorial Calendar, you can enter important posts to tie in with events scheduled far down the road; or with seasonal events.


Then, every month when you sit down to fill out your monthly Calendar, a quick visual check with the Annual Calendar will allow you to transpose these events onto your monthly Calendar before you input new posts for the current month, making sure nothing gets double-booked – or missed.

(If you like the format in the example above, download it by going to  Angela

3.  Use the WordPress Editor Calendar Plugin

If you use WordPress, then the free WordPress Editorial Calendar  plugin can be your best post-scheduling friend.  So do install it.


While you’re writing your posts or maintaining your blog, you have access to the Editorial Calendar at a click of the button.  And you can log in and glance at your Calendar to see what you have to do today before writing a word.

4.  Use MS Excel to Create Your Editorial Calendar

If you are more comfortable using Microsoft Excel or you are a text-based learner, you may find Excel the best tool for creating your Editorial Calendar.

Another reason for using MS Excel:  If your business is highly fluid, and you know you are going to be tweaking and adjusting your Editorial Calendar perhaps more than the average blogger.

In fact, there are many MS Excel templates for doing precisely that.  (You can download – without signing up; just right-click and save – a very nice template courtesy of Vertical Measures.


5.  Use Color Coding

If you are a visual or kinesthetic learner, try color coding the different cycles – then highlighting scheduled posts according to each cycle color.

This is also a fabulous trick if you have learning disabilities or any other form of cognitive impairment, as the visual stimulus and cueing helps you mentally “sort” and remember better.

You could also designate cycles by creating a Category field in your Calendar, along with corresponding two- or three-letter Category codes… or combine  both categories and color coding.  (Tip:  Include a Legend at the top of your chart-style annual Calendar or beginning of your multi-page or monthly Calendar.)


6.  Include Your Calls to Action in Your Editorial Calendar

Write down the call to action (CTA) for each item on your editorial calendar.  Not only will this ensure you remember to include it in your blog post, but you will be able to more objectively judge the level of engagement your post is likely to create.


And yes:  You could designate a color and highlight your CTAs too, if you wish

7.  Learn to Think in Cycles

No matter what your learning style, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is to think in a linear fashion – I. E.  A B C D E F G.

Your blog will feel fuller, richer, more organized and more enjoyable to your readers if you learn to schedule your blog in multiple cycles.


Take your Annual Editorial Calendar and go through using the following “cycles” (and any others unique to your business), one after the other:

  • Seasonal cycle (Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter)
  • Holiday cycle (Christmas, St. Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, etc.)
  • Events cycle (e.g.  Annual Cycling Workshop, Victoria Day Race, etc.)
  • Contest cycle (e.g.  Summer Photo Challenge, Christmas Giveaway, etc.)
  • iscal Cycle (e.g.  .  Your annual business quarter-years, from beginning to end)
  • Product Cycle (All your scheduled, upcoming product launches)
  • Sales Cycles (High and low buying trends – base these on previous sales metrics)

Learning to plan your editorial calendar in this fashion will really help ingrain your business’ “big picture” in mind – and make much better business (and editorial) decisions.

8.  Formalize Your Editorial Calendar Management Protocol

It really doesn’t matter whether you alone update the calendar and distribute information, or your authors or staff are allowed to cross things off and add them – the important thing is a clear understanding of the ground rules – and a clear chain of communication.


So decide on…

a)    Who will update the Editorial Calendar(s)

b)    How the Editorial Calendar(s) will be updated

c)    Who will notify the rest of the team of necessary changes or completions

d)    How they will do this

Making sure everyone understands the system is the best way to avoid scheduling conflicts or omissions.

9.  Create Other Types of Editorial Calendar too

Consider adding social media coding – or a separate Social Media Editorial Calendar.  If you don’t coordinate your social media campaigns with your posts, you could be missing opportunities to allow each platform – blog and social media – to enhance the other.

Plan on the keywords you are going to use in your social media posts, as well as in your blog posts. Align these with ad campaigns, if you are planning any.  (Yes.  Have an Advertising Editorial Calendar too.)



10.  Consider Publishing Your Upcoming Editorial Calendar

Not only will it inspire you to meet your own deadline (since there is nothing more lame than not following through to your readers) but you may attract quality submissions – leaving you with great content to use for your blog and the time to plan next month’s editorial calendar in comfort.

You don’t have to publish it in full Editorial Calendar format:  You can simply make sure you create a section of upcoming stories (with Submission Guidelines) on your website or blog, just as many online magazines and publishing companies such as Chicken Soup for the Soul does.


But when all is said and done, remember that Editorial Calendars are simply tools:  Only you can decide what type works best for you.

And, of course, they’ll be no use unless you use them!



How to Install WordPress

get-clientsWordPress is one of the easiest to use and most versatile web hosting platforms on the internet. It’s the largest and most common blogging platform on the next. It’s easy for beginners to use, yet has endless amounts of plugins and themes that more advanced users can use.

One of the great things about WordPress is how easy it is to install. Most web hosts today have one-click installs that allow you to setup a brand new website in a matter of minutes.

Here’s how to install WordPress on a HostGator cPanel, as well as a few important things to setup once your WordPress blog is installed.

Step 1: Login to Your cPanel

Your cPanel is where you control the infrastructure of your website. To get started with a new installation, login to your cPanel.


Step 2: Click Fantastico

Fantastico is a cPanel application that allows you to install third party plugins on your domains. In this case, we’ll be using Fantastico to install WordPress.

Note: Some other control panels will use a different app for third party installs.


Step 3: Choose WordPress

Choose WordPress from the list of applications on the left.


Step 4: Begin a New Installation

Click “New Installation” at the top of the screen.


Step 5: Choose Install Directory

Select your website from the drop down list. If you only have one domain, your site should be selected by default.

Choose your install directory. If you leave it blank, it’ll be installed on your main site. If you choose a directory, your blog will only exist on that subdirectory. For example, if you only wanted to keep a blog in the /blog/ section of your site, type “blog” in the directory box.

Then choose an admin login and password.


Step 6: Finish Your Installation

Choose an admin nickname if you want, or leave it blank. Enter an email address so people can contact you and choose a website name, then click “Install WordPress.”


Your WordPress installation is ready to go! To log into your admin panel, go to:

Step 7: Tagline, Time and Date

To start your site off, set your tagline and your time zone settings. You can do this right from your start screen. Click “Select your tagline and time zone.”


Set your site title. This is used by a lot of themes to display text in the header area. You can also write a tagline, which again may be used by your theme.

Then set your time zone settings. This helps determine when blog posts will appear to be posted.


Step 8: Set Your Permalink Structure

Your permalink structure is one of the very first things you should setup in your website. You should set it up once, then never ever touch it again. Permalink structure is how WordPress stores the permanent links on your blog posts.

The best way to do it is to make sure you have your post name in the URL bar. Whether or not you include the date or the post ID number is up to your choice base don aesthetics.

To change your permalink structure, click “Permalinks” in the left sidebar.


Then choose from one of the permalink options, or create your own custom structure.


Step 9: Setup Your Theme

Your theme is the overall look of your site. You can make your site look many different ways by installing different WordPress themes.

To install a new theme, click “Themes” under the appearance menu.


Click “Install Themes” at the top.


Use the search features or the browsing features to find a theme that you like. Use the preview button to see what it looks like full screen. Once you find one you want to use, install and activate the theme.


Congratulations! Your website is now setup and ready to go. You’ve installed WordPress, you’ve setup your basic settings, you’ve installed your theme and now you’re ready to start building your site.

Blog Maintenance Checklist



Running a blog is a bit like running a car. Every so often, you need to put some time and energy into maintaining it. If you don’t, will it still run? Sure, it’ll run just fine – For a time. But if you go too long without changing your oil, or go too long without replacing your brakes, you put strain on the system. Eventually, the whole thing could fall apart. The same goes for running a blog.

Much like a car, a blog is quite a complex system. Maintenance encompasses a wide array of issues, from interactions with readers to interactions with other websites to website security issues.

Here are some of the most important things you need to maintain to keep a blog running smoothly.


#1: Update Your WordPress Installation

Updating your WordPress installation is arguably the most important task on this list. If you’re running an old version of WordPress, there’s a good chance you’re running a version of WordPress that has known security vulnerabilities.

If so, it’s not difficult at all for hackers to find your site through Google, then easily compromise your blog. Updating your WordPress installation literally takes seconds. Make sure you update it whenever you see WordPress prompting you to do an update.


#2: Update Your Plugins

The second most important thing on your checklist is updating your themes. Though the WordPress core installation can pose a security risk, the reality is that the vast majority of WordPress hacks come from compromised plugins.

Most people don’t realize that a single compromised plugin can not only result in their entire WordPress installation getting hacked, but having every other WordPress installation on their entire server getting hacked as well.

Updating your plugins is easy. Just go to the plugins panel and click on “Update Available.”


Then click “Update Automatically” under the plugin you want to update.


Update your plugins to their newest versions whenever possible.

#3: Backup Your Site Periodically

Backing up your WordPress installation regularly, say every 2 weeks or so, helps prevent avoidable disasters. If your site ever gets wiped out, you can simply do a restore. If your hosting company suddenly crashes and loses your data, you can just re-upload everything from scratch.

Backing up your data is made easy by the myriad of different backup plugins you can choose from. Pick a backup system that allows you to automate backups and learn it inside and out.


#4: Moderate Your Comments

Comment moderation is not only an important part of maintain your blog, but a highly time sensitive one.

If you want to maintain a strong relationship between you and your bloggers, you need to moderate your blog comments quickly. People should never feel like they’re being ignored, especially after spending a lot of time to write out a thoughtful comment.

Try to moderate your comments at least every 24 hours, if not every 3, 8 or 12 hours. Never, ever let real comments sit unmoderated for more than 48 hours, or you’re either going to lose that reader for good, or they’ll stop commenting and become a passive participant.


#5: Check for Broken Links

Checking for broken links is something you should do about every three months.

When you’re blogging actively, chances are you’re going to be sending quite a few links out to cyberspace. The majority of those links will still work even months and years from today. But some of them won’t.

If a page you link to goes down, that reflects very badly on you. Users who click on a broken link on your site will instantly view you as less credible. They might also get frustrated, because there was a resource they wanted to access that they couldn’t get to.

To avoid broken link issues, scan your site for broken links every few months. Whenever possible, replace your old links with new resources. If there aren’t any comparable resources, then just unlink that hyperlink.




#6: Check Your AdSense Ads

Every once in a while, check what ads are showing up on your site. Check your ads for individual posts as well. Sometimes AdSense will misread your site and post non-relevant ads. Also, sometimes you might be getting ads for competing services. In fact, competitors might sometimes specifically target your site to have their ads displayed there.

One of the best ways to check your AdSense ads is to use the AdSense sandbox:

This allows you to see your ads, minus any retargeting. If you just visited your site, you’ll see a lot of ads that are targeted towards you specifically because of retargeting cookies. The sandbox allows you to see just the ads that are showing up organically on your AdSense ads.


#7: Check Your RSS Feeds

Get in the habit of checking your RSS feeds every 3 months or so.

Check to make sure your RSS feeds are working properly. Check on several different clients, including Google Reader and a desktop client. Sometimes feeds can work in one reader but not another. If something isn’t quite working with your RSS feeds, you want to know sooner rather than later.

Make sure that people can find your RSS feed by typing your site’s URL into their RSS reader. Don’t make people scour your site for a specific RSS link in order to subscribe.


#8: Check Your Analytics

Is your traffic going up or down? Are there specific pages on your site that people seem to be bouncing out of?

What kinds of topics does your audience seem to like? What kinds of headlines seem to catch their attention and get a longer stay? What kind of keywords are people typing in to land on your website.

Your analytics can help answer all these questions and more. Your analytics will help you figure out what your audience likes and doesn’t like, so you can give them more of what they want. It’ll also help you catch red flags early on. If your search traffic suddenly takes a plunge for example, you want to investigate why.


#9: Are You Still on Message?

Finally, re-examine all your posts over the last few months. Ask yourself: Are you still on message? Are you still covering the things you ought to cover? Or have you veered off course?

It’s easy to write a post that seems just a little off topic, especially if you’re feeling inspired by the subject or if there are current events that you want to comment on. But one “slightly off topic” post can lead to another and sooner than you know it, you’re completely off track.

It’s not a big problem. All you need to do is realize when you’re off track by re-reading posts from your past few months. Then re-center your message in your upcoming posts.


These tips will help you keep your blog in tip top shape. Use these tips to help your blog stay secure, to help make sure everything works, to maintain a good relationship with your readers and to stay on message.