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Old 12-15-2006   #1
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Google Website Optimizer - Better Then You Think?

Although many of us in the industry start to become selectively deaf to the noise of Google's daily press releases and viralbait, I was surprised not to hear more of a fanfare surrounding big G's release of their "Website Optimiser" service. The relatively new offering (currently under the Adwords umbrella) enables Adwords advertisers to test conversion rates on elements of their website, such as slogan's, copy and CTAs - you can sign-up here.

The reason I bring this topic up is that whilst I stuck the job of playing with the tool at the back of my mind, someone else took the time to test, review and publish their findings. As reported on Threadwatch, "Conversion Rate Squirrel" offers 101 ways to improve your site using GWO. I know that it's cheesy and the site looks like it's trying to sell you an e-book, although there are some good tips for the average e-commerce site or marketer on there.

Has anyone spent time using GWO and have you seen your conversion rates increase as a result?



Rob

Last edited by evilgreenmonkey : 12-15-2006 at 05:47 PM.
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Old 12-15-2006   #2
Brian M
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Yes, I think it's unbelievably great!

It gets my vote for the best webmaster product of 2006, and possibly of all time. It's a royal pain to set up, but once you learn how to use it, you can see what causes your conversion rates to climb through the roof...

I'm so excited about it that I blogged about it earlier today. And, even though I took the day off from work, I keep checking the reports!

Brian M
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Old 12-15-2006   #3
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Fantastic to hear Brian, although do you think success largely relies on how good the merchant is at marketing?

i.e. It can tell you which CTA is your best, although it can't tell you how to improve a bad one?
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Old 12-15-2006   #4
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It should help even a bad marketer... Then again...

That's an excellent question...

It won't tell you how to improve a bad CTA, but by inference, it should lead even a bad marketer to their best possible choice(s).

However, a 4-day SEO seminar will give anybody a certificate that they can hang on the wall, proclaiming their "advanced" knowledge of SEO. Unfortunately, SEO requires a certain level of brain power that may not be available to that certificate holder. So, no matter how many times they attend the seminar, they may never understand all the aspects of SEO.

I'm afraid that the same is true of the GWO. But, anybody that is smart enough to understand it and successfully implement it should be able to learn more about online marketing and improve the CTA of any page, no matter how "cheesy" the page looks or how "bad" the merchant is at online marketing.

At least I would hope so... Then again...

Brian M
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Old 12-22-2006   #5
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Quick question about GWO - Does it hurt your search rankings?

I know Googles FAQs say it doesn't, but when I took a cursory look at the service it sounds as though you have to replace your copy with Javascript. So, if a person wants to try different <h1> tags, they take out their <h1> tag and replace it with Javascript. Is that accurate? If so, wouldn't that removing of the <h1> tag cause the web page to drop like a rock in the SERPs?
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Old 12-22-2006   #6
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Good question...

My short answer is, "No. It does not hurt your search rankings."

The JavaScript goes around your existing text (and HTML code such as H1 tags), to leave a default page if somebody has JavaScript turned off in their browser. This if the default text that the search engine sees (which appears in the GWO as the "Original" text) so it should not affect your current rankings because the visible text and HTML tags remain intact.

You then add variations (including new H1 tags, etc.), and if somebody has JavaScript enabled, they will see a "combination" of the page sections that you have defined. The source code in Google's cache shows these variations as being comments (so they do not appear), but the "Original" sections appear as normal.

A viewer sees the same combination even if they hit "refresh" a few times, but they may see a different combination if they load the page a few hours later. All of this is transparent to the viewer, and they may not even realize that the page has changed unless the variations are drastic.

Don't go crazy and create too many sections, because it will make too many combinations and it will take a very long time to gather the data, especially if the page does not get many page views. It will also continue to show your "worst" combinations to visitors as long as you continue to run the test, so your average conversion rate includes these bad combinations.

However, once you stop the test, you can alter the page and use a combination that has a very high conversion rate, so you will see an immediate jump in your conversions for that page.

When you finally alter the page, you need to use common SEO sense to maintain your natural SERP positions for that page, but the payoff can be more than double the number of conversions.

I have shown the GWO to several people and they are completely amazed by it, but once you see the results for yourself, you'll understand why I think it's the best webmaster tool of 2006. So, if you have access to this tool, please try it and let us know how you make out.

Brian M
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Old 12-24-2006   #7
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Not so good

I have been trying to use Google Optomizer for a few weeks. Their interface is awful and I can't fingure out how to do basic things. Even when I signed up sepecifically when I was told I could do those things. Basic ROI based on keyword, that was all I wanted, no luck. Even if there is a way to do it, I can't find out since their support (specifically optomizer support) is terrible.
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Old 12-27-2006   #8
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Unhappy Uh-oh, can GWO do this???

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian M

The JavaScript goes around your existing text (and HTML code such as H1 tags), to leave a default page if somebody has JavaScript turned off in their browser.

Brian M

Uh-oh, Looks like GWO won't do what I have in mind for it. I've applied for GWO, and haven't been accepted yet, but wanted to try an alternate index page. Outside of the header and navigation bar, it's completely different, replacing conventional text with divided sections to direct the viewer to the part of our website that excites them the most. If GWO just surrounds existing text with JavaScript, will it be able to surround a whole section of the body rather than just simple H1 tags...?
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Old 01-01-2007   #9
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Yes, GWO can replace an entire page...

The tags can go around anything in the body, so you could put the beginning tag just after the starting "body" tag, and the closing tag just before the ending "/body" tag and create a completely new page.

That would create an "Original" version in the setup, which would be the entire visible content (and code) of the page. Then, when you create a "Variation" it will duplicate the code of the original and provide that to you so you can easily modify it. You can view your changes and compare them against your original version.

You can create numerous variations, and each time, you will be given a copy of the original code to start with. So, where you place the tags is up to you (I have not tried it in the "head" section, but there are other ways to test this area).

The surprising thing is the result of the test, and it may not be what you expect. Does "first-person" content perform better than "third-person" content? You can easily find that out by creating a simple test. Does a certain graphic image perform better than the original image? Again, you can find that out by creating a new graphic image and monitoring the results.

Is the interface awful? Yes - it is confusing at best. But, that's why it's BETA (Better Eat Two Aspirin).
Will it give me a "basic ROI based on keyword?" No - that is not at all what this tool is designed for. It will help you improve your ROI once a visitor arrives on a page, but there is no indication as to how the visitor got to that page in the first place.
Will it make me a better marketer? Possibly - If you can understand the implications of what this tool provides.

So, the bottom line is, "Yes, it is better than you think."

Brian M

P.S. I'm not sure how I became the "expert" on GWO, but there is no way (yet) to post comments in the GWO groups, and since nobody from Google is jumping in here, I guess that I'm it. However, it sure is helping me out a lot, and I urge you to try it out for yourself.
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Old 01-01-2007   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian M
P.S. I'm not sure how I became the "expert" on GWO, but there is no way (yet) to post comments in the GWO groups, and since nobody from Google is jumping in here, I guess that I'm it. However, it sure is helping me out a lot, and I urge you to try it out for yourself.
I'm grateful for your insights into this matter Brian, I've yet to try GWO myself and will probably give it a go based on your recommendations.

As for Google, I think they've shutdown for the holidays, better get spamming before they come back



Rob
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Old 01-25-2007   #11
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Question Google Optimizer and Analytics scripts places

I'm trying to use Google Optimizer Script but I stuck.
I have Google Analytics instaled and...

According to Google Analytics -
Quote:
"Copy and paste the code segment into the bottom of your content, immediately before the </body> tag of each page that you are planning to track."
According to Google Website Optimizer -
Quote:
"The only requirement is that the Optimizer script should be placed after the Analytics script"
But in Step2 we have
Quote:
"Copy and paste the following code before the </head> tag in your test page HTML."
Can anybody explain me this, have I missed something ?
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Old 01-27-2007   #12
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Rely on the GWO instructions...

Hi Art, and welcome to the SEW forums,

You should rely on the instructions given in the Google Website Optimizer instructions, since these were created after the Analytics instructions. In fact, there is a section in the GWO instructions about what to do if you are already using the Analytics code. It's not readily apparent, but all you really need to change is the name of the JavaScript file that does the Analytics tracking (urchin.js becomes urchin_lpo.js). This allows the Analytics code to continue tracking while the GWO test runs.

There are actually three "sets" of code that need to be installed:

The first set, or "control" script goes into the "head" section of the page, and this sets up the tracking for the test. I put this "control" script as the last line in the head section, just before the </head> tag. You may not need this on every page, but my test site's architecture puts this on every page in the site, and it has worked without any problems.

Then, there is a small bit of tracking code on the "landing" (or, "test") page and a small bit of code that goes on the final conversion (typically a, "Thank You") page. It is these last two snippets of code that go at the very end of each page's code. Again, I placed these as the very last lines on the page, just before the </body> closing tag.

Finally, there are the "section" scripts that allow you to define the sections of the page that you want to test. You can decide what you want to call these sections, so you can easily identify your sections in subsequent reports. You need to decide what to call these before you set up the test, and where they are located on the page, because you cannot change them afterward.

One of the nice things about the GWO is that it tests the scripts to see that they are properly installed before it even allows you to proceed any further in setting up a test.

Please PM me if you are still having trouble and I will take a look at your pages.

Brian M
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Old 02-01-2007   #13
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Quote:
P.S. I'm not sure how I became the "expert" on GWO, but there is no way (yet) to post comments in the GWO groups, and since nobody from Google is jumping in here, I guess that I'm it. However, it sure is helping me out a lot, and I urge you to try it out for yourself.
I'll agree that I've been absent from this forum for a very long time (due to family medical issues, as mentioned previously, which are still working themselves out). However, I couldn't do a better job than you're doing, Brian M!

In any case, I imagine it's much more meaningful to members of this forum to have a mostly happy user of a product talk about its pluses and minuses than to have an AdWords employee do it.

Quote:
I'm grateful for your insights into this matter Brian...
Seconded, evilgreenmonkey. Seconded.

AWR
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Old 03-13-2007   #14
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Not accepted Yet

Hi, I'm very excited waiting to be accepted in Google Optimizer.

I want to step ahead and ask the experts of this forum:

My website connects to a Shopping cart on a different domain, so my conversion code will be on a different domain. I need to know if GWO will work in these kind of scenario since some tracking tools don't work because they Use 3rd party cookies to get the tracking of conversion. Is this possible?

Do anyone knows how much time it takes to be accepted?

Thank you for your help!!
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Old 03-13-2007   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick Web
Hi, I'm very excited waiting to be accepted in Google Optimizer.

I want to step ahead and ask the experts of this forum:

My website connects to a Shopping cart on a different domain, so my conversion code will be on a different domain. I need to know if GWO will work in these kind of scenario since some tracking tools don't work because they Use 3rd party cookies to get the tracking of conversion. Is this possible?

Do anyone knows how much time it takes to be accepted?

Thank you for your help!!
There is a work around on conversion using a pixel.
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Old 03-26-2007   #16
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i have been using, but can't benefit from it. Either i don't know how to use or its worthless ...
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Old 03-26-2007   #17
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I manage over 750,000 per year of marketing through Google and I cant get a test account, it seems that Google prioritise the US market before the UK and I have heard of kids who are spending no more then a few $'s per day are testing the Web Optimizer.

Surely it is more benificial to test the software on real world accounts, come on Google, it also allows the US market to get the jump on the UK market, the allows our competition to always keep one step ahead.

I contacted google to request an account but and they said they would look in to it but so far I have heard nothing.
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Old 03-26-2007   #18
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Sounds like you need to take your Account Manager out for lunch more

AKAIK, GWO is 99% US focussed at the moment - although I'm sure I've seen people in the UK using it.
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Old 03-26-2007   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by evilgreenmonkey
Sounds like you need to take your Account Manager out for lunch more

AKAIK, GWO is 99% US focussed at the moment - although I'm sure I've seen people in the UK using it.
May be people who have US accounts but are in London.... or could be in beta in UK and readily available in US... I know we have it here and are using it... works reasonably but it is early yet for a good report or recommendation.
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Old 03-30-2007   #20
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Optimizer Tips

I've been using Google Optimizer since Nov 2006.

I just posted some great tips and tricks that will help anyone trying to test anything beyond a simple "single page test" and "single page conversion".

prusak.com/archives/2007-03-29/get-the-most-out-of-google-website-optimizer-tips-tricks/

Hope this helps someone, and feel free to ask any other questions you have.

- Ophir

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