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35 Resources for Getting the Most out of Google Website Optimizer

Update: Google has transitioned this to Content Experiments. We’ve recently covered how you can use Content Experiments to run a test.

If you care to read the rest of the post, here it is (published in Feb 2009):

Google Website Optimizer is a free tool that allows you to run various tests on your web products including A/B and Multivariate tests.

For Beginners

If you’re unfamiliar with Google Website Optimizer the following list of resources will help you get started and get up to speed to take advantage of this great tool:

  1. Google Website Optimizer Tour – A brief video introduction to what Google Website Optimizer is and how it works from Google.
  2. A Beginners Guide to Google Website Optimizer – A thorough introduction to Google Website Optimizer.
  3. Top Myths About Google Website Optimizer – Google dispels some of the confusion surrounding Google Website Optimizer
  4. 5 Common misconceptions about the Google Website Optimizer – Dispels some of the more common misconception about Gooogle Website Optimizer.
  5. 10 Minutes to Testing with the Google Website Optimizer (PDF) – A PDF that lives up to its title.
  6. Google Website Optimizer 101: A Quick-Start Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization – While this page reads like its full of marketing hype it still serves as a good introduction to why you should be testing.
  7. Google Website Optimizer Help Forum – In December 2008 Google launched a Help Forum specifically for Google Website Optimizer where you can ask questions that will be answered by both Google employees as well as general users. This is a great place to go if you’re having trouble with Google Website Optimizer.
  8. Google Website Optimizer YouTube Channel – In February 2009 Google launched the Google Website Optimizer YouTube Channel which serves as a one-stop-shop for videos related to Google Website Optimizer and website testing in general. This is a great place to find both beginner and advanced tutorials.

A/B Testing

A/B Testing allows you test two or more pages against each other to see which one is the most effective at meeting your desired goal. Google Website Optimizer makes it easy to set up A/B tests. The following resources will help you get the most of your A/B tests and Google Website Optimizer:

  1. What is A/B testing? – This video serves as a great introduction to A/B testing using Google Website Optimizer–sort of a “testing for dummies” if you will.
  2. Website Optimizer A/B Experiments in 5 Minutes – This video, directly from Google, shows you how to quickly set up A/B tests using Google Website Optimizer.
  3. Google Website Optimizer A/B Test Tutorial for Content Page – This post demonstrates how to setup a Google Website Optimizer A/B test using the Motivity Ecommerce/CMS platform (one of the few ecommerce/CMS platforms that allow you to add javascript code to their pages).
  4. How to Document an A/B Split Test for Better Conversions – The author briefly discusses the importance of documenting your A/B tests and then provides a visual mind map, “to create better processes in documenting the results of your split testing.”
  5. The ABCs of A/B Testing – This post from the Google AdSense blog walks you through the process of setting up and completing and A/B test.
  6. A/B Testing: Too Little, Too Soon? (PDF) – A fairly in-depth whitepaper from Future Now, Inc. that discusses what A/B testing is, what all the hype is about and how best to utilize A/B testing.

Multivariate Testing

Multivariate Testing allows you to create fairly complex tests that compare several different elements on a page. For example, you can create a multivariate test using Google Website Optimizer that compares how effective various headlines, copy and images are at meeting your desired goal. This list of resources will help you get the most out of multivariate testing and Google Website Optimizer:

  1. Start Multivariate Testing: 7 Critical Questions – A set of Q&A regarding how to get started with multivariate testing.
  2. Google Website Optimizer Multivariate Test Tutorial for Ecommerce Product Page – This post demonstrates how to setup a Google Website Optimizer multivariate test using the Motivity Ecommerce/CMS platform (one of the few ecommerce/CMS platforms that allow you to add javascript code to their pages).
  3. Multivariate Experiments with Google Website Optimizer – This video from Google walks you through the details of creating Multivariate tests using Google Website Optimizer.
  4. Multivariate Testing: What is it? – This posts aims to help you understand just what Multivariate Testing is.

Case Studies/Examples

Sometimes the best way to learn about something new is to see some real-world examples of how it works. The following resources provide links to posts that show how people are using Google Website Optimizer:

  1. Google Website Optimizer Test: We Didn’t Implement the Winner – A fairly detailed case study of using Google Website Optimizer and a real-world discussion of why they didn’t decide to use the “winner” of the conversion test.
  2. Website Optimizer: Creating and Launching Experiments – Tom Leung, the Product Manager for Google Website Optimizer, gives users a more advanced overview of Google Website Optimizer. This video compliments the introductory video we linked to above under “For Beginners”.
  3. Google Website Optimizer Tool: I Told You So – SitePoint walks you through their process of A/B testing a banner on their site.
  4. Writing Decisions: Headline tests on the Highrise signup page – The 37signals team shares their results from using Google Website Optimizer to test conversion rates for various headlines on their Highrise signup page. This is a great real-word example of how Google Website Optimizer can be used to help you figure out how to increase conversions.
  5. Conversion Rates Up By 500% – A brief overview of one persons tests using Google Website Optimizer that resulted in an increase in conversion rates.
  6. Optimizing Conversions with Website Testing: Google Website Optimizer Integration – A slide presentation (with audio and accompanying transcript) given by both Google and Magento that discusses Magento’s native implementation of Google Website Optimizer. Even if you aren’t using Magento, this presentation contains a lot of great examples of how to use Google Website Optimizer.
  7. How we increased the conversion rate of by over 400% – Conversion Rate Experts breaks down how they increased a company’s conversion rate by 400%.

Tips & Plugins

The following resources will help you discover various tips on using Google Website Optimizer. There is also a link to the Google Website Optimizer plugin for WordPress as well as a link to the book that claims to be “The Complete Guide to Google Website Optimizer.”

  1. Google Website Optimizer Plugin for WordPress – The title says it all.
  2. Insider Tips for Using Google Website Optimizer – A brief interview with Google Website Optimizer Product Manager, Sandra Cheng. Sandra offers some advice from Google’s experience testing pages as well as some tips for what to test on your pages.
  3. Google Website Optimizer tips from Apogee’s GWO Expert – A video interview (with accompanying text) with Alissa Ruehl, Manager of Website Effectiveness Consulting at Apogee Search. Alissa offers several tips for and some rules to follow when using Google Website Optimizer.
  4. 64 Tips for Getting Started with Google Website Optimzer – While the title suggests that these tips are for beginners, its really a fairly extensive list of suggestions for elements you might want to test on your pages. This list can help you decide what you should optimize.
  5. Website Optimizer Tips for Tracking Complex Conversions – This post demonstrates how to track conversions for videos & demos, link clicks and ajax forms.
  6. What’s New with Google Website Optimizer? – Points out and details some of the new additions and changes that Google Website Optimizer underwent in August 2008.
  7. Top 7 Google Website Optimizer Tips – An excellent list of tips for getting started with Google Website Optimizer.
  8. Google Website Optimizer: 7 Powerful Tests – A brief set of notes from one of Google’s webinars on Google Website Optimizer that describes some of the various tests that are possible with Google Website Optimizer. While brief, this post is great because it take you beyond just A/B and Multivariate tests.
  9. SES Chicago: Lesson in Google Website Optimizer – The video interview isn’t very useful, but the 5 brief tips for getting started with Google Website Optimizer that follow are.
  10. Always Be Testing: The Complete Guide to Google Website Optimizer – An entire book devoted to using Google Website Optimizer.
  11. Landing Page Optimization: The Definitive Guide to Testing and Tuning for Conversions – While this book isn’t specific to Google Website Optimizer it is regarded as a highly valuable resource for learning about optimizing landing pages on your websites.


  1. The Techie Guide to Google Website Optimizer – Shortly after we published this post, Google released The Techie Guide to Google Website Optimizer that “covers just about everything you wanted to know about the technical ins and outs of Website Optimizer.” This is definitely a don’t-miss resource for Google Website Optimizer.
  1. Sebastian Tibichi Mar 03, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    Very nice list of resources. Great links on Twitter too.

  2. This is a great list of resources. Thanks for including some of our resources.

  3. Brilliant post, we have been looking to start using google optimiser and this gives us everthing we needed to know – plus a little extra.


  4. an excellent resource

  5. Thanks for the resources

  6. Thanks for the resources.

  7. Awesome i am using google optimizer and it is working very fine. I am also taking reference from this post. Good

  8. nice page, very informative!

  9. Nice list, never used GWO before. Hope it does the trick :)

  10. thanx for that overview and good introduction to the google website optimizer tool!

  11. Mike Papageorge Oct 23, 2009 at 4:08 am

    Thanks for the linkdump, exactly what I needed to get going on GWO.

  12. Hi Great post thanks for sharing. The info is really helpful.

  13. Thank you for sharing this. Good overview.

  14. Thank you for that list of resources. Very helpful.

  15. Very helpful list – thank you!

  16. Hmm.. I never heard about Google Website Optimizer tool before.. Should try first, actually I am using only google analytic tool.

  17. Absoutely brilliant. Thanks for bringing these all together into one post. There’s quite a few that I hadn’t encountered before.

  18. Thanks for sharing such an in-depth info. Very Helpful!


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