Google Tips for More Conversions

    March 19, 2009
    Chris Crum

You can use every marketing strategy under the sun, but if they don’t translate into conversions, it’s all for nothing. Some methods take longer than others to lead to conversions, and there are hundreds of variables that come into play for the success of any campaign.

Conversions end with your site.
That’s why you need to concentrate on what is and what isn’t working. There are plenty of web analytics tools that can help you figure out where your traffic is coming from, where you are losing your visitors, etc.

To improve upon the areas you find aren’t working so well, some testing may be in order

(Tell us what tools you use to test design elements). Google’s website optimizer is a good tool to experiment with. It allows for simple A/B testing as well as multivariate testing. When using the tool, take these hints from Google into consideration:

– Test a page that gets a lot of traffic
– Test a few things
– Pick a high volume conversion goal
– Be bold (meaning make different versions very different)
– Pay attention to your combinations
– Consider your traffic percentages
– You are the best judge of what will work for your site

A/B Testing Google suggests using A/B Tests when:

– Your site doesn’t get a lot of traffic

– You want to experiment with different layouts

– You want to alter the overall look and feel of a page.

Before going down this road, you need to choose the page you want to test, create alternate versions of it, and identify your conversion page – the page users see once they’ve completed a conversion.

Multivariate TestingMultivariate tests are better for trying different combinations of elements. Google recommends this kind of testing in the following circumstances:

– You get a lot of traffic

– The layout and overall design of your page will stay the same.

– You want to change specific parts of your page, like a headline or image, simultaneously.

Before you start your multivariate testing, Google tells you to choose the page you want to test, choose page sections (ie. headlines, images, buttons, etc.), review your desired page sections with your marketing and technical teams, and identify your conversion page.

Sidenote: Mike McDonald of WPN recently sat down with Dr. Karl Banks of Conversion Rate Experts who talks about how testing can lead to better conversion rates and big money:

Whichever testing type you choose, Google will walk you through the steps. Before even getting into website optimizer, there are certain aspects of your design you’ll want to take into consideration. Google Website Optimizer Product Manager Sandra Cheng shares the following tips:

1. Pass the 8 second test.

What this comes down to is appealing to the short attention spans of people browsing the web. Competition is always a click away, so you can’t make potential customers search for the reason they’re at your site, because they won’t. They’ll just leave.

2. Tell them what’s in it for them.

People looking to give you their business need to know what the incentive is in doing so. Again, the competition is easy to find. The customer has to clearly see why they should be doing business with you.

Cheng notes things phrases like "Save more! Make extra money! and Look better with our product!"

3. Use compelling images.

Cheng recommends using product images instead of stock photos. She says, "a low-quality, irrelevant image can kill your site’s credibility." Icons with blocks of text and buttons instead of plain links can also add appeal.

4. Close the sale.

Use calls to action. Point customers in the direction to the next step in checking out. You’re whole goal is to get a sale. Why would you not make this as easy as possible? Phrases like buy now and add to checkout will work with appropriate links.

If you’re really looking to get into website testing with Google’s optimizer tool, you might want to read the company’s techie guide on the subject (pdf). The official blog for Website Optimizer frequently offers tips and insight into using the tool, and the YouTube channel has a number of useful videos like this lengthy and detailed intro clip:


Google is certainly not the only one to offer testing tools. Digital Alex has a nice list of different vendors offering free A/B and multivariate testing tools and resources. The bottom line is that if you are serious about getting conversions (and I WebProNews readers are), you’re going to have to experiment. Luckily you can do this without cost using available tools.