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E-Marketing Performance Blog

Google Optimizer Not Just for PPC. Who Knew?

What you might not know can hurt you!

At the risk of wearing egg on my face, I am going to admit something I didn’t know. Something that kicked my butt. But I learned. The hard way. Wish someone had told me. Wish someone had blogged about this. If someone did blog about it, I wish I had read it! (how’s that for emphasis?) Hopefully someone else learns from my mistake.

Did you know — and here I am hoping there are at least a few people that, like myself did not know — that the Google Website Optimizer will display alternate landing pages and track conversions for you? Well of course you did. Even *I* knew that much. But what I didn’t realize was what kicked me in the butt.

Ya know, my thought would be that since the Website Optimizer is promoted through AdWords – that it would affect only the landing pages targeted with AdWords. Seemed quite logical to me.

I was all very excited to use the Optimizer to test alternate landing pages for one of my clients. I went through the first basic steps:

Choose your test page.
Choose your conversion page.
Choose what type of test is right for you.
Create the content variations you want to test.

Okay – so I got all the easy steps done. Setting up the experiment was easy too. As a former employer used to say all the time, “it’s not rocket science.” So I walked away all happy that I was going to have my landing pages alternately display automatically each time my AdWords ad was clicked.

But no.

Within an hour of starting the experiment, I got an email from the client asking me “Did you mean to replace the page with this or just have the ads point to it?” My reply back was quick “This is the alternate landing page for the Google PPC campaigns. I am using the Website Optimizer to run the A/B test.”

Thankfully I didn’t just let it go at that. I went direct to the client’s website and navigated to the page in question. Imagine the look of confusion my face when I saw the alternate page displaying rather than the optimized page the SEO side of our house created.


Rather than wait until I figured out why this happened, I immediately went and removed the code from the original page, the alternate page and the conversion page, and stopped the experiment. I also emailed a humble apology to the client, assuring them that the test had been canceled and their original page was now the only page that was going to display.

Then I went on a search for why the alternate page was displaying without having clicked on any of the AdWords ads that pointed to that particular page. I found the answer to my question: Does Website Optimizer test only AdWords traffic? In short, No. Website Optimizer tests all traffic, not just traffic from AdWords campaigns or Google search.

That’s what I didn’t realize That’s what kicked my butt. Website Optimizer tests all traffic, not just traffic from AdWords campaigns or Google search.

Ya know though, in hind site, I really have no idea why I even thought that the page would alternate only when my ad was clicked because no where in setting up the experiment was I asked to associate the alternate page with the ad text.

I guess I do deserve egg on my face. Lesson learned … before jumping in and trying the newest cool toy/trick/gadget – know what it is going to do. Think it through first.

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