Google Optimize – The Free Conversion Rate Testing Tool You Really Need to Try

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Mandy Wilson

Mandy is a Director and Content Manager at Cree Digital

Google Optimize Test Lab
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Google Optimize is a free testing tool that helps you find ways to improve your website and gain more conversions. In this short article, I explain what Google Optimize is, how it works and the types of tests you can run. 

My only irritation with Google Optimize is that ‘optimise’ has the American English spelling.

What is Google Optimize?

Google Optimize (GO) is a free tool that provides a way to run experiments, by changing the look and content of your website within parameters, set by you, for a section of visitors to your website.

Essentially, it allows two versions of a page to be run simultaneously, with the new version competing against your original web page. From the resulting data, you can soon figure out which version is more likely to drive conversions from customers. 

It’s advisable to run the GO experiments for a couple of weeks or longer, depending on how long it takes to get a critical mass of meaningful data. It’s a good idea to check the experiment regularly, to ensure the new version is working correctly.

Conversion Rate Optimisation

Conversion rate optimisation (CRO) is a process to improve the chances of users interacting with your goals, by improving the user journey. 

Google Optimize can help you to smooth out any friction points and reach an optimal user experience. Whether you want to test a number of different “buy now” buttons, alternative layouts of product pages to get increased click-throughs to checkout, or variations of calls to action to keep visitors on your site and improve your search rankings, Google Optimize does the job perfectly.

How does Google Optimize work?

It’s really simple to set up Google Optimize. First create a GO account and connect it to your Google Analytics or Google Tag Manager accounts in order to collect experiment data.

Then the fun begins. Mess up your hair, put on a white lab coat and create your first experiment!

Give it a name and be as descriptive as you like. No one else will see the name and you may run similar subsequent experiments, so it’s useful to be able to differentiate at a glance. 

Specify the URL that the experiment should trigger on, choose the device types and the percentage of users that should see each version. You can choose to trigger the experiment on all of the pages on the site, by going to the targeting section and electing that the experiment should trigger for the domain. 

Now choose the elements you wish to test. This is the fun bit! Simply add a variant and make visible changes to your web page using the simulator. This can be a colour change, a change of copy or other edits. 

What can you test with Google Optimize?

Google Optimize is really flexible, allowing you to generate engagement metrics, comparing your existing web page to an alternative version – and this can be from minor changes to a completely different looking page, depending on the type of experiment you decide to run.

Popular experiments include:

  • Colour changes for page elements like buttons or fonts
  • Text changes and working for calls to action
  • Images
  • Full page redesigns
  • Layouts 
  • Removing sections
  • Reducing the size of a page
  • Header navigation changes 

What types of experiment can you set up?

You can choose from 4 experiment types;

  • A/B tests
  • Multivariate tests
  • Redirect tests
  • Personalisation tests

A/B tests

A/B tests test one element of the website with a selection of options. This is the best choice if you only want to test one aspect of the web page. For example, you could change the wording of a button or the colour the button but not both. 

It’s important to recognise the difference between elements and variants. An element is the thing you want to test (e.g. a button) and a variant is the change you want to test on the element (e.g. colour).

Though it’s termed an A/B test , you can test as many variations as you please, though this would mean testing for longer in order to gather enough meaningful data to draw any firm conclusions. 

Multivariate tests

Multivariate tests (MVT) are ideal if you’re looking to test multiple elements on a page. MVT tests two or more elements, to understand their effects on each other. Instead of showing which page variant is most effective (as in an A/B experiment), a multivariate test identifies the most effective combination of variants

Redirect tests

Redirect tests are conducted between two different URLs, where the specified percentage of users will see one version and the remainder will see the other. This is normally done by having and or by using a subdomain if you are testing the homepage. These experiments are really useful if you’re developing a new website or going through a redesign and want to ensure the new version is an improvement on the existing site.

Personalisation tests

Personalisation tests involve targeting your audience. For example, you may wish to target a promotion at the people in a certain location or of a specific language. Personalisation tests allow you to do just that.

How will your website benefit from testing with Google Optimize?

Google Optimize allows you to test ideas for how to improve your website, without making permanent changes.. You can measure changes against your original version> This will show how many conversions are achieved for each version and which works better.

You can test more than one variant simultaneously and update multiple elements. This will allow you to gather more data to inform you on how to improve your website. 

Google Optimize doesn’t require a great deal of website development knowledge and is pretty intuitive. 

If you need help with search optimisation, improving user experience or require a new website, we can help. Please call us on 0113 8715 715 or drop us a line. We’d love to hear from you! 

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