21 June 2007

Google Website Optimizer Tips

Having really put the Google Website Optimizer to the test at this point I have decided to publish some possibly useful tips for people trying to push the limits on this free tool. Here I will list a goup of things which I had to spend some serious time on trial and error with in order to correct. It may save some time for people willing to read.

1. The importance of testing is pretty obvious, but how do you really do a full page A/B test. I know Matt Belkin at Omniture will tell you never test more than one element as an A/B without making considerations of the possibility that what you are discussing is a multi-variate test. However, we have some pages which have identical content which we decided to test in a new layout, format. When it was put in front of me to be able to test, I hastily said, "Sure, I can do that...", and the truth was, I believed it would be as simple as the taking the code, tagging it, and let'er go. This was not the case.

2. Make the fancy page the original and use the original as the variation. As you may or may not know, when using GWO, you have some limitations with respect to what can be passed in and out of the 'utmx_' sections which you define in the set-up. The variations cannot contain active scripts for things like drop downs or tab. So, in a case like ours, where this is the proposed next phase of transition for a number of our pages, and the test design doesn't allow for it, you have two choices. Make it work, or.......make it work. What we were able to do was, instead of taking the original, splicing it up with a tag, and then passing the new page in and out of the original (our site uses four PHP includes which build a template around the static pages); We moved the new content into the original slot, where all the links push, and made the less complicated original version the variation which could be passed in and out of the tags. BINGO....works like a charm.

3. Split traffic with a redirect. Our pages work on a template, like I stated above. For that reason, when we used a redirect to attempt splitting traffic, it worked, but only after performing a load of the page includes before the redirect occurred. This does not mean that this should be an idea which is so easily abandoned. If your page does not rely on using includes or any server code which has to be called prior to the body, you can create a variation which, when passed into a variable set to a priority in the code, will call the redirect and split the traffic to a new page on the site. For me, it was more important to maintain fluidity over the possibility of making the redirect work. So, I saw no value in that, but I'm sure someone can use that tidbit.

I hope these relatively simple tips are helpful to you if you are interested in getting the most from the Google Website Optimizer. If you have questions, suggestions, or comments, please feel free to voice them. A note to those interested, however, is that I will be migrating the blog to the CableOrganizer.com site over the next week. Any articles which you have read here will be made available there from this point on. When the migration is complete, I will publish the link here, in the Yahoo! web group and through my Technorati profile.

1 comment:

Rodrigo said...

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