Google has released a new tool that allows its AdWords clients to carry out sophisticated page testing and improve the conversion of landing pages – for free.
Anyone who runs a website knows how critical good conversion of you web pages is and how small changes to your page content can have a dramatic (positive or negative) influence on your conversion rate.
The challenge for most small businesses so far has been that testing various combinations of the elements on your web page and trying to determine which combination results in the highest conversion, is not easy. You have to be able to make frequent changes to your website, and also have very good analytics and reporting to determine statistically significant results. So when website owners do any testing at all, they often resort to fairly simple A/B tests – you change one single element at a time and see which version of your page performs better. Seeing real impact on conversion with this approach can take a long time, and you might also miss out on winning combinations of different page elements.
There are a number of companies that offer more advanced multivariate testing systems, which allow you to test multiple combinations of multiple page element variations at the same time. However, this kind of advanced statistical testing software doesn’t come cheap … that is, until now.
Website owners can then create several versions of critical page elements – for example, three different headlines, three different images and three different versions of a product description – and Google’s Website Optimizer software will automatically display combinations of the variations and determine which single combination performs best. While multivariate testing is fairly complex, the reports that Google provides look intuitive and seem pretty easy to understand. Advertisers can then permanently implement the best performing page combination – until they start a new round of testing.
Google’s Website Optimizer picks up at a point that all website owners are familiar with: It’s not enough to get qualified traffic to your site, you also need to ensure that you web pages are designed in the most user-friendly and conversion-friendly way possible. The Website Optimizer looks like a great tool to do exactly that, and apart from the time that you need to invest, it will be free for all AdWords advertisers.
Is Google doing this out of the sheer goodness of their hearts? I would doubt that. If you improve your conversion, your return-on-investment on you advertising expenditure increases, and you can afford to spend more on advertising. So you will make more money – but Google will hope that you’ll spend more money with them, too.
Are there any downsides? Google will have access to sensitive information about your website performance and conversion rate. Some website owners might not be happy about that, but many might be happy to accept this in exchange for free tools that would be out of their reach otherwise.
As mentioned, Google’s Website Optimizer is currently in a limited beta release. If you are an AdWords advertiser, you can apply to be included in the beta test phase and find more information on Google’s Website Optimizer info page.