Alissa began by explaining that Google Website Optimizer is a free tool that website owners can use to determine the most effective combination of content on their site through a variety of tests. The results from these tests can then be used to maximize conversion rates among existing traffic to your site.
GWO can conduct both A/B testing and multivariate testing. A/B testing will test two different pages against one another, and multivariate testing will test the various elements on the page to determine the best combination.
Alissa then offered a few strategies to keep in mind when using Google Website Optimizer:
- Ask big questions. You will only receive answers for the things that you actively test. You should test drastic changes rather than slight changes to obtain statistically significant data.
- Spend time developing well-written copy to test.
- Wait for significant data. GWO will indicate when a sample is large enough to be useful.
Alissa pointed out that there are different situations in which one would want to use A/B testing versus multivariate testing:
- Multivariate tests compare different elements of a page. Google uses a full factorial test so it is very easy to generate a large number of combinations even when testing just a few elements. These tests require a high amount of traffic to achieve statistical significance.
- A/B testing is suited for sites with less traffic because it requires a much smaller sample size to achieve statistical significance. This is the best option for testing a complete site redesign.
Finally, Alissa offered a few rules to follow when using Google Website Optimizer:
- Wait for statistically significant data. As discussed earlier, initial results might reflect random chance, so wait until you have had enough traffic for the information to be significant.
- Limit the elements being tested. If you create too many different combinations, it will take a great deal of time for GWO to produce meaningful results from your test.
- Spend as much time developing content for a test as you would for a website. Even though this is a test, you are testing potential real options for your site. Do not get sloppy with the content just because it is a test.