Why isn’t the Google Website Optimizer getting more attention? I think the tool has real potential. I’ve had the opportunity to test it the last few weeks and I think Google has really developed something useful here. Finding content that converts on landing pages and improving Quality Score are just a couple of the perks I see right off the bat.
The Website Optimizer is built into the Google Adwords interface and helps you find out which content will convert best on your landing pages. Lead generation forms, newsletter sign-ups, purchases are all examples of conversions that are tracked. If you’re using Adwords you may already be tracking conversions with their Conversion Tracker. The Optimizer tool only enhances the service by telling you which combinations of graphics and text lead to those tracked conversions. What is really slick about this tool is that it takes care of revolving options for the different elements you are testing. Want to test three different headlines and two images? Just input those options into the Optimizer and it will revolve them on your live site. Over time the tool tracks which combination of headline and image converts the most.
Here’s my rundown of the process. Note, I’m not a web developer and have only limited experience with coding. But, if you’re a small business marketing manager, you’re probably at a similar level. Despite some complexities with my site, I’d rank the Optimizer very high for ease and explanation.
The first step is identifying which pages will be tracked. The screen looks like this:
Pretty basic. You name the experiment, identify the url of the page you’ll be testing, and identify the url of the conversion page – i.e. the page the customer gets to that you designated as a conversion. Thank you page, document download page, etc. are examples.
Step 2 is tagging the test and conversion pages with the Google code. The first option impressed me the most – the option to have the tagging information prepared for you or for your web team. The screen looks like this:
Excellent option! If you have someone that takes care of your site, simply pass on the url provided by the optimizer with the necessary instructions. Otherwise, if you’re up to it, give it a shot yourself.
Apparently, unbalanced script tags and XML don’t play well together. I had to turn it over to the company that helped develop our site and they came up with a solution. If you run into a similar problem, shoot me an email or leave a comment and I’ll go further into the solution with you.
The last part of step 2 is simply having Google check to make sure everything is in place which they do pretty easily.
Step 3 walks you through creating variations. Again, a very easy process. I chose to test a headline, an image, and some text on top of a form on my test page. The tool shows you the original headline or image based on your page code and walks you through adding variations. A preview page also lets you try all the combinations together to see how they will look.
From then on it’s smooth sailing. You can watch the results of your experiment by seeing conversions by combination or conversions by page sections (headline, image, etc.). Both give you good insight into what elements work the best together to give you the most conversions.
One thing I thought would be handy to add to the tracking page would be a bounce rate tracker which told you which combinations caused people to leave the site right away and which combinations led them further into the site even if they didn’t convert for you.
Overall, for a service that is bundled in with Adwords, you can’t beat it. It gives you a chance to find out which pieces of content or images are of most interest to your customers. Yes, there are other services that do this for you and I’m sure some have many more features, but I like this because it’s built into Adwords and I don’t have to pay any more to use it. Thumbs up to Google on this!
Surprisingly, I haven’t seen too much blog posting about this. Any thoughts on why? It’s a major addition to Adwords. I did see Diana, Michael, Andrew, and Nancy post information and reviews on the Optimizer. Geordie Carswell also threw out an invite to offer input on the tool as he’d not seen much either. Here are a couple of other resources for those interested in giving it a try.
- Website Optimizer overview
- Website Optimizer overview presentation
- Website Optimizer installation guide
- Sign up for beta test (it might already be rolled out for everyone – I’m not sure)
- Grokdotcom Website Optimizer Resources
- Ophir Prusak’s Google Website Optimizer Tips and Tricks
If you know of other good reviews or have thoughts of your own, please let me know. I’ll add good links to the post as my intent is for this to be a resource for people considering the Optimizer. I’m curious to know if others see this as a great addition or if you’ve had issues and concerns.