We all know that PPC campaigns that drive traffic to a website are useless if the landing page is ineffective. That’s why conversion rate optimization (CRO) and a wide selection of CRO platforms exist.

Google Optimize is similar to other CRO platforms such as VWO or Optimizely and serves the same purpose; to facilitate landing page testing in order to increase conversion rate and engagement. 

In this post, I’ll solely focus on basic navigation, features, and setting up a test in Google Optimize.

Navigating the Google Optimize Interface

There are three main parts to the UI:

  1. Experiences: “Experiences” is a fancy way of saying tests or experiments. On this tab, you will see running (active) tests, drafts, and ended (concluded) tests. This is also the tab where you will create a new experience. 
  2. Activity: The activity tab is simply a running list of changes that have been made in the account.
  3. Settings: Lastly, the settings tab, is where you would go to; 
    • Link Google Analytics to your Optimize account
    • Find setup instructions and the code that needs to be placed. 
    • Set up notifications
    • Adjust user management settings (e.i., add new users, remove, etc.) 
google optimize home page

In terms of navigating the UI, that sums it up. Very simple and self-explanatory.

Navigating Your First Google Optimize Experience (Test)

Choose The Experience Type

On the main screen, you will click “Create experience”. 

create an experience in google optimize

At that point, you will be prompted to 

  1. Determine the URL you want to use
  2. Select the type of experience you want. 

For the URL, simply choose a page you want to view in the editor. 

Later on, you can adjust the target to be a single page or multiple pages. 

The experience options are as follows; 

  • A/B test: This is your typical A/B test where you have the control page and then make adjustments to elements of that page. 
  • Multivariate test: This is similar to A/B testing, however, multiple sections are being tested at the same time and the best combination of those sections is the end goal.
  • Redirect test: Typically called “Split URL”, this allows for two pages to be tested against each other.
  • Personalization: This is specific to a group of visitors. For example, if you want to include a promotion to only new users, you can do so with this option. 
  • COVID-19 banner: This allows for a banner to be temporarily added to the site as needed and not permanently. It’s a great way to quickly push important information live in real-time. 

Each selection includes a link to more information and allows you to view examples. 

create an experience in google optimize

For the sake of this post, we will move forward with a standard A/B test.

Setting Up An A/B Test

After selecting an A/B test, you will proceed to the test “Details” page. 

This is where you will:

  1. Add your variant(s)
  2. Link to Google Analytics
  3. Launch the test. 
details page of google optimize

Next, you will select “Add Variant”. The editor will appear and you will make changes to the page. In order to not triple the size of this post, Google Support does a great walkthrough on set-up in the help center; Create an A/B Test.

Additional Tips

That’s the basics of Google Optimize. Here are a few key points to keep in mind that differ from other platforms; 

  1. Once a test is launched, no changes can be made. This includes adding additional conversion actions to track.
  2. When setting up a test, it’s important to ensure that tests are mutually exclusive. This means that if a user is part of one experience, they will not be subject to another experience. With most platforms, this is a built-in option, however, it’s not with Google Optimize. That being said, you can find documentation on ways to make tests mutually exclusive with third-party cookie targeting. The caveat being (going back up to point 1) that all tests that need to be run simultaneously should exclude users who have already been apart of another test. 
  3. When reporting, you may notice that Google Optimize and Google Analytics data don’t quite align. This is simply due to reporting lag and attribution and should even out following the test.