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Google Website Optimizer - Split Testing For Everyone

Aug 17, 2007
Internet Marketers who use split testing experience higher success levels than those who do not perform such tests. Split testing allows marketers to measure the effects of different content on their landing pages against user response, and thus select the best performing page. Split-testing is typically a time consuming process. Without any special tools, a marketer would need to create their landing page content, and run it for a specific period of time to test the results. Then, the marketer would need to run the same page with one change- perhaps a different headline font, or a different wording for the headline, and test the results of that variation. It's expensive and time consuming because you can only test one item at a time in order to obtain accurate results, and because it is completely based on trial-and-error.

Google Analytics has allowed marketers to measure their conversion rate (how many visitors become buyers or perform the specific action a web site asks them to make), but tracking this doesn't tell you what content on your site is effective and what areas need improvement. As any internet marketer knows, if you're going to spend money on pay per click advertising and other means of getting web site visitors to your web page, then what content you actually put on that page is priceless! You want successful performance from your ads. How can you monitor the actual effectiveness of the content on your page, and know what content is performing well and what isn't working?

Google is currently offering a new service for split-testing landing pages, called "Website-Optimizer". It makes split-testing much more manageable and less expensive than testing without the tool. Basically, the optimizer is going to allow you to try different variations of content on your landing page and measure the results to see which page has a better performance (conversion rate).

The Website Optimizer is free, and can be used without extensive experience running testing experiments on landing pages. In other words, you need not be a split-testing genious to use the optimizer tool. Before beginning a landing page experiment, Google even provides internet marketers with a "pre-experiment checklist". It details step by step what you'll need to do, from selecting your test page, to setting a goal for the experiment, to the actual running of the experiment and reading of results.

Using the optimizer, a marketer can experiment with new headlines, different promotional copy, and a variety of images designed to turn web site visitors into "conversions". Google will provide you with easy to read, graphical reports to determine the content that performs the best and encourages site visitors to the highest conversion rates.

When determining what to test on your page, you need to take your goal into consideration. If you want your site visitors to take a specific action such as downloading a document or making a purchase (the call to action) then you might want to test different headlines. You might try different graphics- to see whether photographs of products or a person using the product has a better result. Changing the actual page copy to decide whether lengthier text offers better results, or shorter and more direct copy has better conversions. Testing the format of text might offer changes in conversion rates as well; try bulleted points or paragraphs. Finally, try altering the actual "call to action" portion of the site. If you have a button that says "sign up", try a different phrase, like "quick sign up" or "get it free".

While you need to have an active Google AdWords account to use the optimizer tool, you will be able to test traffic coming from various locations. You'll test incoming visitors that are a result of your AdWords advertisements, Google search results, and other search engine traffic.
About the Author
Norman Freeman is an online marketer, SEO expert, corporate president, published author, seminar speaker, Kung Fu black belt and passionate student of marketing and a lifestyle coach. He wants to keep the fun and passion in marketing and helps his clients not to get confused but focused in the information overload. He's regularily blogging at: http://www.normanfreeman.com
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