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Google Website Optimizer: Using GWO to Boost PPC Conversions

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Google Website Optimizer: Using GWO to Boost PPC Conversions

If you’re running a PPC campaign but you’re not continually tinkering with the performance of your landing pages–also known as conversion rate optimization (CRO)–then you’re probably missing some major opportunities. Many online business owners and paid search marketers balk at CRO because they feel it’s:

  • Too expensive
  • Too labor-intensive
  • Too confusing

The truth is, conducting your own CRO experiments is relatively fast, simple and very effective thanks to Google Website Optimizer (GWO).

About Google Website Optimizer

Google Website Optimizer allows you to test different versions of a landing page so you can gather user performance data and select the page (or different elements of a page) that generates the most conversions. GWO offers users two types of conversion testing:

A/B (Split) Testing: Lets you test two versions of a page against one another to discover which page converts best. A/B testing is particularly helpful when you’ve got two entirely different PPC landing page designs you want to test.

Multivariate Testing (MVT): Lets you test multiple elements of a page simultaneously. You can test different headlines, different videos or a different call-to-action (CTA) on a single page. MVT helps you determine which mix of on-page elements generates the most conversions.

GWO Pros

  • It’s FREE: Google Website Optimizer is a free tool. So if one of your concerns is budgetary, know that you don’t need to spend a penny to start testing.
  • It’s easy: You don’t have to be a Web developer or a highly-skilled CRO expert to launch an A/B test. Setting up an experiment in GWO is relatively quick and easy.
  • It offers tremendous value: Leveraging a free tool that’s able to help you increase sales is about as good as it gets when it comes to ROI.

GWO Cons

  • It’s FREE: Yes, both a pro and a con. Since it’s free, GWO is pretty one-dimensional. There are a lot of things you can’t do that you are able to do with some of the really advanced paid CRO platforms like Test and Target and Liveball, such as….
    • Tracking Multiple Conversion Paths: Unless you have access to engineers who can hack the tracking script, you can only test one conversion path in each experiment. This is a drawback because if you wanted to test a few different offers on a page, you’re restricted to testing only one at a time, and to test multiple offers on a page (say a home page for instance),  you’ll need to run subsequent tests on each offer. NOTE: if anyone knows of a script hack to test multiple conversion paths simultaneously in GWO, feel free to drop a link in the comments.
    • Can’t Control Traffic Split: GWO controls traffic distribution on experiments and attempts to split traffic equally between test pages, meaning there’s no ability to run a custom traffic split, like 60/40, 70/30, etc.
    • Can’t Segment Visitors: With GWO, you’re unable to implement advanced visitor segmentation or to show different pages to new users vs returning visitors or based on search term or location, etc.

Regardless of its shortcomings, GWO is still a fantastic tool that allows the average business owner, webmaster or PPC marketer to get busy improving conversion rates immediately…and for free.

Setting Up an Experiment in Google Website Optimizer

Setting up an experiment in Google Website Optimizer for your PPC campaign pages is really easy. There are just a few simple steps in the process:

  • Create an experiment
  • Add tracking script to your original page, your test page and your conversion page
  • Validate the script (Google does this)
  • Start the experiment

Then, you’re up and running.

Google Website Optimizer: Using GWO to Boost PPC Conversions

A Few Helpful GWO Tips

  • Adding script: If you’re working with an open source CMS (like WordPress or Drupal, for example), you can copy and paste the script to the top and bottom of a page’s source code relatively easy. However, if you’re working with more dynamic pages outside a CMS and need a Web dev resource to implement script on the backend, you can task it to someone on oDesk pretty affordably.
  • Creative elements: Even without the aid of a professional Web designer, it’s pretty easy to design different test pages. Again, if you’re using a CMS, you can create CRO test pages on your own by writing different copy elements, adding different images and using free resources on the Web to grab different CTA buttons.

The point is, GWO offers the quickest, easiest, most cost effective way to start testing and improving your PPC landing pages today. By implementing even the smallest of tweaks to text, forms or even adding trust symbols, for example, you can see 109% improvements in conversion like this:

Google Website Optimizer: Using GWO to Boost PPC Conversions

And the beauty of using a free tool like GWO is it takes the guess work out of conversion rate testing.  With the data from GWO, there’s no need to speculate.

Further Reading

If you want more information on creating better converting PPC landing pages, Google Webstie Optimizer and CRO, check out these resources:


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Ken Lyons

Ken Lyons is co-founder of Measured SEM, a search marketing agency that provides a range of SEO and PPC consulting ... [Read full bio]