How to Run Split Testing

November 23rd, 2010

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Today’s article

In earlier issues we discussed how to improve landing page design and usability and optimize landing pages for PPC. Today we’ll go on speaking about split testing for the improvement of website usability.

The split testing technique provides website owners with data that lets them increase web page usability and conversion rates. This data is obtained from experiments with page variations, when changes to any page components – texts, graphics, and layout – can be tested and compared.

Ways to test

A/B testing allows one to test a few static versions (A, B, C etc.) of a landing page (or any other page that should cause a targeted action, so conversion is expected) against each other in real-time.

Multivariate testing lets you test changes to specific sections of your page like headline or price, and then analyze how changes to each section have affected the conversion rates. To be able to define what has caused a boost in conversion, only one thing (variable) at a time should be tested – a headline, a screenshot, a color, a font, a price, an offer text or inclusion of a guarantee.

An A/B testing method lets you test 2-3 versions of a page, and multivariate method allows testing of combinations consisting of different variables simultaneously.

How to start

You can use a ready-made solution for split testing, however there are not very many of them on the market. They differ in their technology, in the ease of implementation, in reporting facilities and of course in price.

We recommend Google Website Optimizer as the most popular and easily accessible service.

How it works

Prepare several design options for your experiment, set up (a) test page(s) and (a) goal (conversion) page(s) – you’ll need to add the JavaScript codes Google has given to you. If you choose the multivariate testing, you’ll need to specify sections for each page to be tested. Ensure that everything has been set up correctly and launch the experiment.

Tips:

  1. If your site gets low traffic, it is better to run A/B testing rather than multivariate. Fewer variations will help you get experiment results faster, because each variation can be shown to every new visitor only.
  2. If you have enough traffic, you may test your pages only on some part of your site visitors. You can choose the exact percentage of all traffic to your site to be involved in the experiment.
  3. GWO (Google Website Optimizer) lets you track only one conversion page at a time. If you feel you need to track several types of conversion separately, find more information in the GWO Tricks blog.

What elements should you test?

You should test the landing page elements that influence efficiency most of all.  Usually marketers advise to test the following parameters:

  • Headlines
  • Content Positioning
  • Texts (web copy) – product reviews, testimonials, money-back guarantee, pictures of products
  • Color Schemes
  • Font sizes
  • ‘Buy now’ button properties, order forms

You can get many testing ideas at this website www.marketingexperiments.com. Webmasters and site owners also share their thoughts and experiments at www.abtests.com .

On completion of the experiment, you’ll get the “winner” page which is the best performing page. Publish it at your website as a permanent page. But this is not the end of the story!  You should repeat the split testing from time to time, because customers may change their preferences over time. Split testing is an ongoing process, so keep planning more and more experiments to adjust your pages for better conversion rates.

Testing gives you the opportunity to maximize conversion rates, solve problems, and challenge assumptions.

From Marketing Experiments

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Web CEO Metrics

Are SEO companies as good as they claim to be on their sites? Will they return the efficiency they promise? Are their skills qualified? The only way to find it out is to check how they optimize and promote their own sites.

Here we share Top 10 SEO Companies according to their search visibility rate for October 2010.

1. seo.com
2. submitexpress.com
3. mainstreethost.com
4. bruceclay.com
5. majon.com
6. seoconsultants.com
7. iprospect.com
8. seoinc.com
9. marketleap.com
10. anuvatech.com

Click here to see the complete rate.

Web CEO analysts use objective evidence to rate SEO firms according to their search engine visibility. SEO companies’ visibility rate is calculated using a special formula that considers the positions of SEO companies’ sites in search engines results pages for the keywords their potential clients use, popularity of these keywords and number of competitors.

Learn more about the formula.

Here you can see how Top 10 SEO companies’ visibility rate has changed from August till October 2010.

495_317

Top 10 SEO Companies

Optimize your landing pages to have your PPC campaigns work perfectly

November 4th, 2010

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Today’s article

In the process of creating a PPC campaign, search engine marketers have to point their ads to pages that give more detailed information related to the ad. The simplest solution is using the existing pages of a site. This idea is often far from ideal because it doesn’t guarantee two things: great visitor experience (and the landing page efficiency that results from it) and high Google AdWords quality score.  So, there are a few reasons why creating special landing pages for PPC campaigns should be considered seriously.

  • A specially created page is much easier to optimize for a higher Google AdWords quality score.
  • The A/B split testing of a landing page is easier if you are free from your site’s template.
  • You can get rid of all elements that might reduce the landing page’s efficiency.
  • You can go on testing until you find a successful combination of text and page layout that converts visitors into buyers best of all.

The result of your marketing and design endeavor should be a landing page with the following characteristics.

  1. The landing page is very relevant to the ad and it gives valuable and unique information to visitors.A word-by-word reproduction of your ad on the landing page would seem redundant to visitors and its not really necessary from the AdWords quality score perspective. At the same time, repeating the ad’s main keyword is a good idea, because it connects the ad and the landing page in the mind of a visitor.Keeping your landing page up to high-quality website standards is important for your visitors and for obtaining a high quality score. Google recommends that “advertisers bear in mind the three main components of a high-quality website: relevant and original content, transparency, and navigability”, which is equally true for landing page quality.
  2. The copy is brief, clear, scannable, and includes a prominent call to action, i.e. all of the information necessary for a visitor to complete your targeted action.Use straightforward and keyword-rich headings so that a visitor can quickly understand your proposition; minimize descriptions to give just the most important and convincing facts and details. Find a good balance between “meat” and brevity in your copy, and make the targeted visitor’s exit from the page the most logical step for her while being the most desirable step for you.Additionally, in accordance with Google’s “navigability” criterion, you should point the visitor to the page where she can receive enough information to make a decision if your landing page has not been persuasive enough. However, providing a number of navigation options may result in a lower conversion rate.
  3. The page is credible and contains details that will make your potential buyers feel safe to buy.According to the “transparency” principle, your visitors should easily find information helping them to clearly understand the consequences of their transactions with your company. Details that identify you as a reliable vendor are smart elements of your landing page.
  4. The landing page loads fast and complies with other Google AdWords Criteria for a high quality landing page.To define if your landing page is slow, Google compares it to the threshold. The threshold is calculated by adding three seconds to the “regional average”, i.e. the average download time in a specific region or country.The load time is based only on HTML downloading; neither images, nor video content are included. The quality score may be penalized if the load time of your landing page goes above the threshold. Read Google’s recommendations on how to improve the load time.

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Web CEO Metrics

Here we are sharing the generalized numbers from our HitLens Web Analytics service. It covers 300,000+ websites from all over the world.

This October Google gained even more of a visitor audience – 83%. Yahoo referred 7% of visitors to sites against 9% in October 2009. Bing’s searcher number has increased to 7% of all global searchers as opposed to 6% in October of last year.

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Global Search Engines (%)

You can see how visitors are being referred to websites.

In October 2010 visitors queried search engines in 52% of all searches (up 4% compared to October 2009!). Bookmarking and linking shares fluctuate – they have referred 19 and 21% of all visitors correspondingly. The amount of people who clicked on paid advertising has decreased – 6%.

vr1_nov10

Visitor Referrers (%)

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