Always Be Testing: The Complete Guide to Google Website Optimizer

by Bryan Eisenberg and John Quarto -vonTivadar with Lisa T. Davis

Always Be Testing cuts straight to the chase. By the end of chapter two, you will understand how to set up a test.

The authors explain the difference between A/B tests (comparing the performance of two or more pages) and Multivariate tests  (comparing the performance of multiple components within a page). But be aware that as of August 1, 2012, Google Website Optimizer has been replaced by  Content Experiments and the multivariate functions are no longer available. More on that in a moment.

Regardless of the tool du jour, “technology alone won’t give you optimal results… Knowing what to test is still more important than having the ability to do so as cheaply, quickly, and easily as you can today.”  Part II explains the factors that improve conversion and offers ideas on what you can test, such as headlines, the color of your Buy Now button, and the order content is presented. “Methodical customers do value product specifications… However, these customers will look for the information, so you needn’t place it front and center.”

The authors warn that best practices should be used only as guidelines, not rules. “Someone else’s best practice can be your disaster… Best practices do, however, provide a great starting point for testing.”

An interesting term used in the book is “scent trail” which is a consistent look and feel that provides continuity between a banner ad and a landing page.  It reinforces what the authors call “persuasive momentum.”

The final section of the book deals with technical details.

Update from Google – “Website Optimizer has been integrated with Google Analytics as Content Experiments. On August 1, 2012, Website Optimizer will no longer be available as a standalone product. From that date forward, you can use Content Experiments to test your site content…  Content Experiments is a somewhat different approach from either standard A/B or multivariate testing. Content Experiments is more A/B/N. You’re not testing just two versions of a page as in A/B testing, and you’re not testing various combinations of components on a single page as in multivariate testing. Instead, you are testing up to five full versions of a single page, each delivered to visitors from a separate URL.”

Eisenberg, Bryan, and John Quarto-vonTivadar. Always Be Testing the Complete Guide to Google Website Optimizer. Indianapolis, Indiana: Wiley Publishing, 2008. Buy from