“Cool homepage, how does it convert?” that’s the question that everyone needs answers to. That’s also the question people pay “experts” to answer for them. But by using one of Google’s free tools (called Google Optimize) you can find out the answer yourself saving thousands of dollars in “consulting fees” and (hopefully) making thousands more by having a high converting homepage using the Google Optimize Redirect Test.
Before we get into how to set it up, here is a little background information about Google Optimize and if you have a website… why you should be using it.
What is Google Optimize?
Everybody likes videos! We put together a less-than-one-minute) video giving you a quick overview of Google Optimize:
Google Optimize is part of the Google Analytics family. Think of Google Optimize like that Uncle you have that kinda looks like your dad but is way weirder. A more accurate definition is that Google Optimize helps you create higher converting webpages. It does this by giving you three different ways to test your webpages. Here are the exact definitions from Google’s site:
- A/B or A/B/n Tests
A/B tests, also known as A/B/n tests, let you test multiple versions of the same web page and find the one that works best for your users. In A/B/n testing, Variant A is the original and Variants B through n each contain at least one element that is different from the original. For example, Variant A may have a blue purchase button and Variant B may have a red purchase button. The results of this experiment will tell you which variant has performed the best.
- Multivariate Tests
A multivariate test allows you to test two or more elements on a page to see which combination creates the best outcome for your site. By analyzing the interactions between the elements, Optimize will help you find the best overall combination of elements on your page.
- Redirect Tests
A redirect test, also commonly known as a split URL test, is a type of A/B test where you test separate web pages against each other. With redirect tests, the variants being tested are identified by the URL instead of the element on the page. This type of test is most useful when you want to test two very different landing pages or a complete redesign of a page.
Regardless of the type of test you chose, the basic idea is that Google will serve your website visitors different versions of a webpage (that you setup) and tell you which one achieves your goal more. Your “goal” can be an online purchase, a newsletter signup, a specific click, etc…
This tutorial that you are reading is about just ONE of those types of Google Optimize tests, this tutorial is about the Redirect Test. The reason is that we just relaunched our website with a new look and we want to see which one of our four homepages increases newsletter signups the most. The four homepages are all drastically different so a simple A/B Test or Multivariate Test is not enough in this scenario.
If you want to learn how to setup a Google Optimize Redirect Test, keep on reading… it should take you about 13 minutes
IMPORTANT: You need to do this first
Before you even begin setting up a Google Optimize Redirect Test you need to have at least two webpages to test. It sounds kinda silly but too often people head right over to Google Optimize, start setting it up only to realize that they don’t have anything to test!
So step #1 is to go create the different versions of webpages on your website that you want to test. You can do this for as many pages as you want, there is no limit (I don’t think!).
You also have to think about your goal could be measured. If it’s a simple button click or having the visitor stay on the page as long as possible you don’t have to do anything extra… but if you (like us) want to track signups you’ll need to create a “Thank You” or “Check Your Email” page and have your signup form redirect to that page when the person enters their email address.
PRO TIP: If you are testing your homepage and you already have a homepage named “Home” name your variations something like “Home V2”, “Home V3” and “Home V4″… you’ll thank me in a few minutes.
Since this tutorial takes you on the journey when we setup our test, you can see the designs of our four homepage variations, just visit this post: Homepage Battle of 2018 post
Once your webpages are setup now you start setting up the Google Optimize Redirect Test.
The 13-minute timer should start about now!
Setup a Google Optimize Redirect Test
We’re gonna skip all fluff and jump right in, so go to: https://www.google.com/analytics/optimize/ and click the Get Started button and agree to all their terms and conditions (that nobody ever reads).
Once you do that you should be at a screen that looks like this:
Click the CREATE EXPERIMENT button and you’ll be at the Create experiment screen. This is where you provide basic information about your experiment.
Give your experiment a name and enter in the URL (this should be a link to the original page) that you want to test. In this case, I’m going to name it WDA 2018 Homepage Test (April). Since we are testing the homepage I’ll enter in the URL of our homepage: https://www.webdesignersacademy.com. I know that we want to test completely different versions of the homepage so I’m going to choose Redirect Test (the third option) then click CREATE.
NOTE: If you really just wanted to test small tweaks on your page (like changing a button color or the text in a headline) you would choose A/B Test. This tutorial is for Redirect Test, we’ll publish an A/B Test tutorial soon.
You’ll now be on the main Experiment page (they call it a Container) within the Google Optimize Redirect Test system.
Now you need to enter in all the URLs to the different page that you have created, to do this click the CREATE VARIANT link
Start by giving the variant a name. Since I named my test pages Home V2, Home V3 and Home V4, I’ll start by entering Home V2 (this will make it very easy to know which one is winning) in the Variant name box and entering in the URL to that page then click the ADD button
You’ll now see that new variant on the main screen!
Since I have two more variations that need to be tested, I’m going to repeat that process two more times. Repeat this process as many times as you need to get all your variations entered into the system. Once all your page variation URLs have been entered into the Google optimize system, your screen should look something like this:
As you can tell, each page (the original and the three variations) will EACH be shown 25% of the time to visitors to the site.
Now comes the interesting part… how will you determine which page is the winner?
For our website, the measure of success will be how many people enter in their email address to download a free product that we are currently offering. For your website you might base it on how much time the visitor spends on your site or if they click the “Buy Now” button on your site. Whatever you determine your metric of success to be is called your “Objective”.
Objectives are actually set in Google Analytics (which you should have installed already). Make sure you SAVE your changes then click the GO TO CONTAINER PAGE page link located in the right hand column
On the main My Container screen click the LINK PROPERTY button in the right hand column
Click the dropdown menu (which will populate all the sites you have in your Google Analytics account) and chose your website from the list then click LINK.
A popup message will now appear that says you need to get a snippet of code to run the experiment, click the GET SNIPPET link
The snippet is just one little line of code that you need to insert into your existing Google Analytics tracking code right above the “send” line AND it wants you to move your existing Analytics tracking code as HIGH as possible in your HTML. This is to make the new OPTIMIZE script kick in as soon as the page loads (vs if your script is in the footer the page will load everything else first THEN the Optimize script).
The line of code that needs to be inserted is in the box near the 2 below (it also has a grey background in step 3).
I’m going to start by copying the Optimize plugin (which shouldn’t really be called a plugin, it should just be called a code snippet… whatevs Google) and then going to the LIVE website to where my current Google Analytics code is.
Since I am using the BEST WordPress Page Builder ever, I entered the Google Analytics code in Appearance > Customize > Code > Head Code but your WordPress theme might have a different spot for Analytics!
Here is what my Google Analytics code looks like BEFORE I paste in the Google Optimize Redirect Test snippet:
And here is what my Google Analytics code looks like AFTER I paste in the Optimize snippet:
See the new line right above the ga(‘send’, ‘pageview’); line? That’s where you want to paste it in.
With that new snippet added to the Analytics code (and SAVED of course) on my website now let’s head back to the Google Optimize screen and click the NEXT button
Google Optimize is now trying to be helpful and minimize page flickering when the page loads (although to be really helpful they could have just provided this new code on the previous screen so you don’t have to go back and forth) so they now give you a new script to paste in directly BEFORE my entire Google Analytics code block on my website.
This is what it looks like:
So copy that new code and go back to your website and paste it BEFORE your Google Analytics code, the end result now looks like this:
NOTE: On our website this code actually made the page flicker WORSE so we removed it… but please try it out on your website and see if it makes things better.
Once SAVED now lets go back to Google Optimize and click the DONE button
Now that your (website) is properly linked to the Google Optimize system, now go back to the Experiment page (where you see your page variants) and click the LINK TO A GOOGLE ANALYTICS VIEW
On that screen, simply dropdown the Select a view for this experiment and choose All Web Site Data then click the DONE button
Once you’ve done that you’ll see that the there is a new link in the Configuration section called ADD EXPERIMENT OBJECTIVE
Give that a click and you’ll now have two options “Choose from list” OR “Create custom”. I recommend you checkout what the default options are and see if that is what you want to track. If you don’t find one you like, no worries… keep reading!
I do not see the objective I want to track (which is to track user email signups) so I’m going to click “Choose from list” and from that screen click the (barely visible) link to visit Google Analytics.
That link automatically brings you into the Goals section in within the Google Analytics interface. Here, you want to click the NEW GOAL button to setup the objective that I want Google Optimize to track.
On the Google Analytics setup screen there is a list of goal Templates that I can chose from, there is also a Custom option at the bottom if you don’t like any of them. The goal I want to use (remember that I want to track email signups by people ending up on my “Thank You” page) is Create an account (Successful signup, account, or view created). I know people aren’t really setting up an account they are just entering in their information to download a free gift but it’s close enough so I’m going to select that option then click the Continue button
The next screen will help you setup that Goal. Start by giving it a Name and then chose the Type of event that should be classified as a “Goal”. In my case, once people fill out the email signup form on my new homepage variants they are redirected to a “Check your email” page, so that “Check your email” page URL needs to be my goal. To do this, I’m going to chose Destination and then click the Continue button
On the Goal details screen this is where I’m going to enter in the URL of my “Check your email” (remember visitors only see this page once they fill out the form… which is what I want to track). I’m going to hide the URL from this screenshot because I don’t you to go visit that page and mess up my stats! 🙂
Once that URL has been entered, click the blue Save button at the bottom of the screen.
Once saved you’ll now see that new Goal on the main Goal screen. It should look something like this:
With the goal configured in Google Analytics, go back to the Google Optimize Redirect Test screen and in the Objectives section, click back on ADD EXPERIMENT OBJECTIVE
and select the Choose from list option and you’ll now see your new goal as an option to choose.
Click on that new goal and it will be added to the main Objectives section
Click the SAVE button (top right of your screen) and a message will now appear that says Your experiment is ready to start and you can now click the START EXPERIMENT link to begin your experiment.
And you’re done! Was it about 13 minutes?
Cool, Now What?
Now that you’ve got your Google Optimize Redirect Test setup now you just sit back (well you’ve gotta have some traffic to your website) and let Google Optimize Redirect Test show the different page variations to your visitors and see which ones convert your objective better.
BONUS: Share your Google Optimize Redirect Test stories in the comments below. For example did you have more conversions with a blue button or an orange button? Did 23.7% of your visitors stay on the full width page vs the fixed width page? Share what you’ve learned below.
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