Making changes and improving an existing site or page is always fun. But, are you really making “improvements”? How do you track this?
One must-have if you have a website is Google Analytics. Must, must, must. It takes just a few minutes and I ALWAYS include setting this up with any website I build for my clients. It’s important for you or anyone who manages your website to know the basics of Analytics and just be aware of the traffic and reach of your website. For more hardcore tracking and Analytics, I recommend taking a course and consistently dedicating time each month to maintain your site, or hiring a professional. Having that said, it’s important to not focus on SEO over your actual business and your products or services – these are what REALLY sell your brand. Your website and SEO efforts simply help you extend your reach to your consumers.
Back to those “improvements” for your site. You could just make the changes and simply watch your Analytics data for changes. But, it’s easier and a little more fun to do some A/B Testing to compare the results of both versions then make a decision based on that. Most services that offer A/B Testing charge a monthly premium, though, you might be able to find a free trial. But for small websites or less extensive changes, you could get a free ride using a plugin and configuring your Google Analytics with a Content Experiment. Here’s how:
Plugin: Google Content Experiments
This plugin enables you to use Google Content Experiments on your WordPress site.
Setting Up A Google Content Experiment
A quick note: be sure you have the proper views set up for your property before you edit your analytics tracking. You should ALWAYS have at least 3 views:
- Unfiltered (to track your site without any filters forever)
- Master (your master view for current tracking)
- and a Testing view (a clone of your Master – to make modifications to your “masterR#8221; view without mucking up your live master data).
Begin Setting Up Your Experiment
Select your property & view after logging into your GA account. I used my “Master” view to configure this experiment since I don’t feel I have much to worry about with this one.
Navigate to Behavior > Experiments
You’ll then be prompted to fill out a 4-step form. Be sure to have your secondary content/page set up already and the plugin above installed and activated.
With my settings above, my goal is to lower my bounce rate. A bounce rate is when a user first loads a page of your site and doesn’t click through to any other pages on your site. I’m splitting this test evenly at 50/50. For changes that will be more drastic or risky, you’ll want to do experiment on much less of your traffic, like 15% or so.
You want to make sure you also have a clear call to action for the user to take – lead them into your site or other actionable.
Set The Pages
Here, you’ll now want to set the old/current page and the new/testing page.
Add The Tracking Code
Having that plugin installed and activated, you’ll now navigate to your original page, go to edit it, and at the bottom you’ll see a box to mark the page as “an original page of a Content Experiment”. This will then allow you add in the code above and save the page.
Review and Confirm
All set! For the next 2 weeks or set time, Google will serve up that B page whenever it decides and track the data for you. No need for a fancy external service to pay monthly for (unless you have bigger goals/needs or don’t know your way around Analytics much). Some of these services do have some fancy benefits though, like heat mapping.
For larger, more risky experiments, A/B Testing should be a habit! You don’t want to change up a landing page only to have your sells or opt-ins drop drastically and your left scratching your head or scrambling to put the old content back up while loosing money in the process.