Analytics & Marketing Insights

Top 7 Google Website Optimizer Tips

Top 7 Google Website Optimizer Tips

December 13, 2008           Analytics, Google Analytics

Here are our top 7 tips for Google Website Optimizer when you are getting started and looking for fast, actionable feedback to improve your website conversion rates.

  1. Keep it Simple
    Start with A/B Testing and test major page changes with fewer variations. Google offers some sophisticated functionality for performing multivariate tests but remember that these complex tests take much longer to get actionable feedback since much higher traffic and ultimately conversions are necessary.
  2. Conversion within 1-click
    An important lesson we have learned is to use a conversion step within one click of the page you are testing because too many variables can come into play that may drastically impact your testing results when using a conversion step that is multiple steps away. For example, if you are testing the conversion of product detail page changes you likely want to use the cart page as the conversion step (1 step away) versus the order confirmation page which may be 3 or more steps away. When using the order confirmation page your test results will likely be skewed by the performance of your cart and checkout process, especially if you are running a simultaneous test on one of these other steps.
  3. Don’t Run Overlapping Tests
    Be very careful not to run tests that may impact or be impacted by other tests. For example, avoid testing simultaneous tests in the checkout process.
  4. Test Pages with Most Potential Impact
    Use Google Analytics and user feedback mechanisms like 4Q surveys, Usability tests to identify areas on your site that will bring the most improvement to your conversion rates. Here are some tips on the common pages to prioritize in your testing efforts:
    – Top of Sales Funnel
    (i.e. Home, Category & Product Detail pages)
    – Higher Traffic
    (i.e. Top Landing/Entry pages, Top Exit pages & Highest Bounce Rate pages)
    – Key Process Step
    (i.e. Cart, Checkout, Account Registration, & Lead Generation Forms)
    (hint: if you have a required registration step REMOVE it)
  5. Disable Poor Performing Variations
    Google Website Optimizer reports will give you visual feedback on your tests. When a test is a success the report will highlight the test variation in green, if it is a failure it will turn red, and when the variation is in progress and not a winner or loser it will be yellow. For example, if you are running your control page (A) against say 3 variation pages (B1, B2, B3) and you see that 1-2 of your variations (B2 & B3) turn red and are performing significantly worse than your control (A) and variation (B1) we recommend disabling (B2 & B3) to accelerate the test to more quickly get the actionable input you are looking for.
  6. Failed Tests are Successes
    Don’t be too frustrated when your new page variations fail. Remember that you have successfully prevented damaging your website conversion rate. All tests are a success when you remember this important point.
  7. Start with Best Practices (and then test them!)
    To improve the likelihood that your tests will be a success, learn from other case studies and proven best practices to create new page testing variations. BUT remember that they are not steadfast rules and you must always Test! What works for Apple, Amazon, or a respected competitor in your industry might work for them but it doesn’t guarantee that it will work for you. Just because you see a certain design, layout, or feature on another site doesn’t mean that is working or that it has been tested successfully.

Have another Google Website Optimizer tip? Leave a comment…


  • Excellent list for getting started.

    As an additional tip, if you’re using PPC to drive traffic to a landing page, that’s a prime place to make sure your testing. Any time your spending ad dollars to drive traffic, testing & optimizing the landing page can improve your conversion rate and lower your ad spend.


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