Get Your Web Site in Good Working Order: Google Website Optimizer

Recently, I wrote an article about doing site optimization, and presented a study involving one of the leading players in this space, a company called SiteTumers. Today we’re going to take a look at another site optimization tool, Google Website Optimizer.

We’ll show you how easy it is to get started with Google Website Optimizer. You can get started in five easy steps.

Google Website Optimizer (GWO) was launched not too long ago by Google as a tool to help people better optimize their sites. For one thing, if an AdWords customer improves his or her conversion rate, this advertiser is in a good position to increase his or her ad spend.

As with many Google offerings, one of the great things about GWO: it’s free. This makes it very easy for even small Web site owners to get started with Web site optimization

Last Friday, I spoke with Tom Leung, the product manager for Google Website Optimizer, to get some quick background on the product. One of the things Tom made clear is Google believes optimization is something that can have a dramatic impact on the results a Web site sees for its marketing efforts.

GWO is intended to be really easy to use as well. Here are your five steps to get started:

Step 1: Plan Your Experiment

The first step is to plan your experiment. This is the single hardest step in the entire process. You need to put some thought into variations of the pages you want to test. This takes some creativity to think of things that may affect conversion.

To ensure you put some thought into this part of the process, Google starts you with a screen to remind you to do this:


Step 2: Set Up the Experiment

Once you have things ready to go, you can click on the “Continue” button on the above screen, and then you will come to the next screen, where you actually identify the pages involved in the test:


Step 3: Install the Required JavaScript

Once the setup page is complete, Google Website Optimizer will provide you with the detailed JavaScript that’s required on your pages. Basically, there are four parts to installing the JavaScript:

  1. Install a Control Script at the top of the original page.
  2. Install a Tracking Script at the bottom of the original page.
  3. Add a Tracking Script to the bottom of the revised version of the page you’re looking to test.
  4. Add a Tracking Script to the bottom of the conversion page.

Anyone familiar with HTML should be able to do this quite quickly without any problem.

Step 4: Validate the JavaScript

Once you have the JavaScript set up, you then ask GWO to validate the scripts. The validation process takes about 30 seconds, as the tool goes and checks the pages you have identified and ensures the JavaScript is in place.

Step 5: Start Your Experiment

Once the validation is complete, you’re basically ready to go. The next screen allows you to either preview your experiment or start it:


Test Your Results

That’s all it takes to get started. The hardest part is often designing the tests. Each test takes time to execute and complete. Make sure you’re spending that time well.

There are many, many variables you can choose to test. Here are some simple suggestions that may work for you:

  1. Different offers to the website visitor
  2. Different color schemes on the page
  3. Different headlines or tag lines
  4. Different text versions of page copy
  5. Basic page layout changes

User interactions with Web sites are very complex. A lot of things affect how easily visitors to your Web page can find what they’re looking for (or determine they’re not going to find it on your site).

Smart use of landing page optimization techniques with tools such as Google Website Optimizer can help you dramatically improve your results. I’ve seen 30 percent gains in conversion rates achieved by many, and an actual doubling of the conversion rate is not unheard of.

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