Achieving your business goals depends a lot on how the information on your website is presented. One version of the content can make visitors leave within seconds, while another can make them take that extra click and turn into customers. Often, what makes the difference could be just a better wording of a headline, a shorter copy, or a more impressive image.

You can use Google Website Optimizer to test different versions of your pages with real visitors and see what works best. It's easy to integrate the tool into your site:

1. Select a test page which you would like to optimize. This could be your home page or any page where visitors are expected to take important action - click to order a product, make a reservation or proceed to internal pages. The page to which visitor are expected to go from the test page would be your conversion page - e.g an order page, a subscription form, or a page with detailed info.

2. Decide on sections of the test page which you would like to experiment with. Prepare alternative versions for each of them. In our experiment we'll try different headline and another image.



3. Login to your Google AdWords account (or sign up for a new account here). Select Website Optimizer from the menu on top and set up your experiment. You can choose between:

a) Multivariate experiment - tests multiple content changes in different parts of the page, appropriate for pages with more than 1000 views per week. The website optimizer will serve the same page with different variations of the content to visitors.

b) A/B experiment - tests 2 entirely different versions of the page, appropriate for pages with less than 1000 views per week. You will need to create an alternative version of the testing page and the optimizer will show the original page to some visitors and the new page to others.  

We'll select the multivariate option and proceed with the experiment setup as explained here.


4.  After you fill in your experiment details and select that you'll install and validate the JavaScript tags, the Optimizer will prompt you to add 3 scripts to your pages. Login to the Admin view of your site and use HTML snippets to add the scripts.

a) Add the control script in an HTML Snippet element at the top of the main content area on your test page

b) The sections script consists of two tags that should be added on the test page before and after each section for which you want to test variations. In our sample experiment - the headline and the image. Use the HTML snippet option within the Text and Image editor to add the tags. Update the first tag with a unique Section Name for each element - e.g. "Headline", "Image"

c) The tracking script should be pasted at the bottom of the main content area on both the test and conversion pages.

5. Return to Google Website Optimizer and check that scripts are properly detected on your pages by selecting the Validate button at the bottom.


Then, create variations of each tagged section by clicking the 'Add new variation' link. Each new variation will use your original content code as a basis that you can edit. Modify the code to include your new content - in our case we'll replace the headline with a shorter one.


If you want to test different versions of an image you will need to upload the new image in a File Area on your site and copy its permanent URL. Then, when creating the new variation replace the current image URL in the code with the permanent URL of the new one.


Have in mind that you will need ~100 conversions per combination, in order to be able to make a proper judgment. So, if your traffic is not that high, stick to a relatively small number of variations.

6. Save your variations and use the Preview option to verify that everything works properly.


7. Launch the experiment - Google Website Optimizer will now start serving different versions of the page to different visitors. Each unique visitor will see only one of the variations of the page.

8. Google Website Optimizer will track the results and give you a detailed report to help you see which variation lead to most conversions. Our sample experiment proved the variation with most conversions (i.e. clicks on the Book Now button) was the one with the shorter headline and larger, more enticing image.
Once you have determined which combination works best, you can stop the experiment, remove the optimizer tags from your pages and update the content on your page to match the wining variation.

Testing different variants of your pages with Google Website Optimizer can really help make important decisions on how to retain visitors and convert them to customers once they arrive at your site.

Useful links:
Google Website Optimizer home page
Google Website Optimizer demo
Working with HTML snippets