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On Friday 1st June, Google announced the launch of Google Analytics Content Experiments, which allows elements of website optimisation testing from within the Google Analytics interface.
With this new launch Google also announced that they will be closing Google Website Optimizer from 1st August 2012. This has caused a little concern amongst users of the tool as not all the features have been carried across to the new Google Analytics Content Experiments.
So let’s take a look at this in more detail.
Google Analytics Content Experiments allows advertisers to create and manage content testing within the GA interface to help you optimise for goals that you already have running in Google Analytics. You can create several variations of a page and Content Experiments will display the different variations to your visitors and pull the results straight into an easy to understand report.
This video talks you through the process in a little more detail:
As I mentioned previously, not all the features from Google Website Optimizer have been carried across and users are concerned that they will need to move across to a paid testing tool in order to meet their current testing requirements.
Features Not Yet Available
With the tool being so new, I have looked at what features don’t appear to be included but this list may be expanded as we start to use the tool more frequently.
Google have said that Google Website Optimizer will be shut down from August 2012, so I am hoping that they will use the next couple of months to incorporate the above features into the new Content Experiments tool. More often than not, advertisers want to test more than just a straightforward page test and to make the new tool a valuable asset, these things need to be considered.
As far as I am aware, there aren’t any other free tools that allow website optimisation testing and as a result Google Website Optimizer must have a huge user base so it would be a shame to take this functionality away entirely.
It is very easy to get started with a new Content Experiment and you can be up and running in five simple steps:
Content Experiments can be found within the Content section of Google Analytics, just one click away from your main reports.
When visiting the area for the first time you will be displayed a screen explaining a little bit about the tool and how to use it. There are some helpful guides; so if you are unsure of what to do, I would recommend checking these out first by clicking on ‘learn more’ in the bottom right hand corner of the screen.
The first thing you need to do to create a test is to tell the system what page of your site you want to start with. In this example I have added the Koozai Home page.
Next up, you will be asked to provide details of the first variation you want to run against your original. The variation does need to be on a different URL and I would suggest that you put all your test pages into one folder on your site called ‘tests’. This way you can block the entire folder within your robots.txt as you don’t want the search engines to be able to crawl the pages (duplicate content issues!!!).
If you are wanting to test more than one page variation, you can do this from this stage too. There is a button that you can click to add another variation. If this is the first time you have played about with testing, always start small and create one variation or things may get a little confusing.
The next step in setting up your first test is to choose which goal you want to add. I am really surprised that Google haven’t set this up so that you can test with more than one of your goals. The majority of tests work with a number of goals and although this feature wasn’t available with Google Website Optimizer, I would have thought that bringing the testing into Google Analytics would allow this feature to be easily incorporated. I am hoping that this will come with a future release.
After selecting the goal you want to work with, you need to tell Google what percentage of your visitors you want to put through the test. The higher the percentage, the faster you will be able to see the results; however, if you are making a change you may not want to put all your traffic through the test in case the change causes a negative drop in conversions rather than a positive. Basically, if you choose 100% of traffic and have your original page and one test page then 50% will see the original and 50% will see the test.
In order to get the test started, you will need to add a small piece of code onto each of your test pages. Content Experiments makes it easy to either add the code yourself or send it onto your web developer.
NOTE – all pages taking part in the test need to have Google Analytics installed.
The code needs to be added immediately after the opening <head> tag on the original page.
Once you have added the code to the original page you will be taking to a new screen which checks to see that you have installed the code correctly. If you haven’t you will be displayed with a message like the one below. If everything is OK and ready to go, you will see green ticks next to each page indicating that you can proceed.
You are now ready to start the test so spend a couple of minutes reviewing what you are about to launch before hitting the go button.
Depending on how much traffic your site receives and in particular the page that you are testing, this will determine how long you should run the test for. In order to see fair results there should be a good amount of visits and conversions put through the test.
Once the test is running, you can look at the results as they come in by going back to the Content Experiments section in Google Analytics. When you select the section, you will be displayed with a list of all your experiments.
You can go into each test to see the results received to date and it is wise to keep checking back on your test to be confident that you are not losing out on goal conversions.
When you select an experiment from the list, a detailed report will open for that experiment. In the report you can see exactly how the pages in your experiment are performing and whether one of the pages is outperforming the other. You can also see the status of your experiment from in this report and if you decide to stop the test early, you can do this from here too.
It is still very early days for the Content Experiments tool and I am confident that Google will transfer the functionality from Google Website Optimizer across. Stay tuned on the Koozai blog as we will be keeping a very close eye on the new tool and will bring you the latest updates as we find them.
I would be interested to know your thoughts on Google Analytics Content Experiments so please leave any comments in the section below this post.
Samantha Noble is well known within in the search industry, she even won the UK Search Personality 2016 at the UK Search Awards in November. This year, she continues to make an impact on the industry by judging not only one, but three, prestigious industry awards.