It was a helpful tool that allowed website owners to test different aspects of their sites to see which versions of a page performed better.
Basically, Google provided a website optimization A/B testing platform free of charge that allowed online marketers to compare landing pages so that they could identify which version drove the most desired behavior from users.
Think of it this way: you have a local snow mobile repair website that has a Contact Us form. Your boss wants as much information on the form as possible so he requires users to fill in their first name, last name, email address, phone number, address, city, state, zip code, country, snow mobile brand, snow mobile model number, and a description of the problem.
You’re suspicious the lengthy form is scaring off potential customers. Google Website Optimizer would then allow you to develop your preferred page with a shorter form and pit it against the current page.
Google would then send a percentage of live website traffic to the new page. After both versions of the page had been running for a while, you could send a report to your boss showing him that your shorter form generated more leads for the business than his lengthy form.
Pretty cool, right?
Google Website Optimizer Had Died
By the time the official Google Website Optimizer blog published its farewell post, there was already a fully functional replacement in place offering the same general functionality called Google Analytics Content Experiments. And yes….it’s still free.
Here’s a helpful video describing Google Analytics Content Experiments:
How to Get Started with Google Analytics Content Experiments
Using content experiments in Google Analytics is surprisingly easy to do. Here is a simple step-by-step guide to get help you get started.
- Set up an account on Google Analytics and ensure it’s reporting data.
- Create a goal for the action you want to track. In our snow mobile example, the goal would be a form submission. To add a goal, click on the orange Admin button at the top right corner of the analytics account, then click the “Goals” tab in the center of the page, then click +Goal, and finally add your new goal at the screen to your right.
- Ask your web developer to create and publish the alternate version of the page you want to test. You can test up to 6 versions at a time.
- Set up your experiment in Google Analytics by clicking the Content button on the left, then click the Experiments button, then type in the URL of the current page that has been getting all the site traffic.
- Follow Google’s steps to get the Google Analytics Content Experiments tracking code.
- Ask your web developer to add the tracking code to the original page.
Once the code has been validated, your experiment will start serving the different versions of the pages you created to visitors of your site.
After you’ve given the experiment a few weeks to collect data, you can run reports that will tell you which version generated the most leads based on the goal you set up. Hopefully it’s your version. If not, just don’t bring it up at the next marketing meeting and hope your boss forgets.
If you have questions about how to set up your first content experiment on Google Analytics, feel free to ask in the comments section.
PS. In the future post I’ll share the results of an experiment so you can see what the reports look like.
What questions do you have?