Step by Step Guide to Google Analytics Content Experiments

A recently introduced new feature of Google Analytics is called Content Experiments. With this new feature you can easily test multiple variations of a page to see which version works best on your website or webshop to improve the number of conversions.

Simply said: this way you serve version A to the first visitor and version B to the second visitor. With a goal set you can then find out if for example you have to place that button to request information on the left or on the right, or maybe it’s not a good idea to use big images at the top of the page.

The new feature is for a great part based upon Google Website Optimizer which was always a stand-alone product, for this reason Website Optimizer will be shut down August first. We’ve discussed this at our hangout last week, but let’s take a look into this ‘new’ feature.

Start experimenting

To start experimenting within Analytics go to the website you want to test with and click on the left on “Content” and then “Experiments”. On the page that opens fill in the URL of the page you want to test and hit the big blue button. Setting up an experiment consists of four different steps.

Name and URL’s

After clicking the button on the next page you’ll first give the experiment a name. Below the name you have to fill in the URL and name of the original page, after doing so Analytics will generate a screenshot on the right. Below the original you can fill in the URL of the first variation of a page, so in reality this page is a completely new page on a different URL then the page were the experiment is tested on, when the experiment is live Analytics will combine these.

Analytics currently supports experimenting with five different variations. Hit next to continue.

Goal

After filling in the URL’s it’s time to set a goal. At this moment only URL destination and Event goals are supported. If there are no goals defined in the profile then click the link ‘Setup goal now’ to add a new goal. After that you can decide how many of new visitors must be included in the experiment, normally this is 100% but you can choose from 1%, 5%, 10% to 25% to 50% to 75%.

Last click the option ‘Rewrite variation URLs to original in Content reports’ to consolidate all traffic to your original and variation pages under the URL for the original page in your Content reports.

Add the code

In the third step it’s time to add the code to your website. Here you have the option to do this yourself, which is of course very cool to do, but there is also an option to send instructions to your own webmaster. When selecting this last option you will get a standard email which can be changed, fill in an address and the webmaster who receives the message can click on a link to open a page with the instructions and the code to place.

If you decide to add the code to the page yourself then click the first option. The code has to be placed after the opening head tag at the top of the original page. Of course, also make sure all pages (original and variations) have the normal Google Analytics code.

Finish

Then click Next to validate the pages, Analytics will then check your pages for working code. If the test is succesfull hit the Excellent button to continue. In the last step you will need to confirm all settings and then you can start experimenting for real or save the experiment for running it somewhere in the future.

When the experiment is started it will take 24 hours up to 48 hours before the first data can be seen in Analytics. If there’s enough data Analytics will declare a winner and show which page performs best. Note that all experiments are limited to three months. Later on the experiment can be opened by going to Content and then Experiment again. After opening the experiment you will see the conversion rate, numeber of visits, hours of data and the chances to beat original page.

It’s a very easy way to perform experiments on a website, so happy experimenting!

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About Michel Wester

Michel Wester is the owner of the Dutch website WebSonic.nl, started in 2004. WebSonic mainly focuses on news about Google, Twitter, and Facebook. Next to the news the site has a lot of tips for PC users and starting web developers.