Split Testing On Laptop

The Pros & Cons of Google Optimize

Article Updated: September 4, 2019

So you’ve got everything set up with your landing page or your product page, whatever it is, you’re running ads and your getting all that information but you’re still not getting the sales you would expect.

You’re getting loads of organic traffic and your Google adverts are getting a good amount of clicks but you’re not seeing the sales you would expect based on everything you are seeing.

What’s going wrong and why aren’t those sales coming through?

Just like every other part of getting better results, the only way you can find out is with data. If if the data you are seeing from Analytics and Ads are both showing good traffic volumes from the right kind of customer, it is time to take the next step; test your landing page or product page because something could be wrong or a change could greatly change the number of transactions.

It’s Time to Get into Split Testing

Split testing or A/B testing is the process of having 2 versions of your page to see if one performs better than another. If you have never seen how 2 versions of something can perform so differently, Adwords is the perfect place to set it up very fast and see the results pour in. Creating at least 2 adverts per ad group is the fastest introduction to split testing I know of. Create your advert for your ad group and save. Click on the option to edit or copy and edit, and go with copy and edit. Google Ads has just duplicated the previous ad you created and it’s ready to make changes to.

Getting a Quick Look at Split Testing Via Google Adwords

Obviously, your advert has the same goal but you’ll need to make some changes to it. Perhaps change the headline and mix up the description or completely change your call to action. If you want to make a number of adverts you just keep repeating the process. By creating at least 2, you can identify the differences. You’re probably going to be surprised at the difference in the data before too long. One of those 2 adverts will start performing better than the other one, which actually highlights an important point to good split testing: give structure, a methodology to your split testing so that you can identify what made the difference. One word could make a big difference or it might take a whole different call to action. Whatever the case, you will see a performance difference. That’s the great thing about creating two adverts in adverts, you can do it yourself and you can do it right away.

Google Optimize Hits the Market – Live Split Testing Free

Google Optimize is one of the latest free tools offered by Google that is creating quite a stir among marketers, existing paid platforms providing similar services and gives owners and managers the power to implement split testing without the need to dig into their website and create 2 pages to test. Optimisation tools have been around for a while but the release of Google Optimize changes the game a bit because it is free and integrates straight into your Google Analytics account. Google Optimize 360 was released at the same time but comes with a seriously hefty price tag because it is designed for large enterprise.

Google Optimize Compared With Popular Paid Tools

Visual Website Optimizer and Optimizely are well established, but how does Google Optimize compare against them? These other two tools don’t come cheap either to give marketing teams and owners the ability to create split testing (A/B split and multivariate) at their fingertips and with the need to get a developer to create different pages and set up a split testing system. It’s kind of surprising that Google didn’t release something earlier, but this is acknowledgement that even smaller to medium-sized businesses need to be able to do testing on their landing pages (whether that be a page an existing page of a service site, an existing product page or a landing page created as part of a campaign that you’re working on to let potential customers get to know you a bit better instead of trying to fight out your competition at the point of sale.

The biggest advantage of optimisation tools is that you can make changes on the fly yourself once you have it set up. Optimisation tools allow you to create 2 versions of your page without you actually having to code anything. You can make changes to your page like you are working with document editor. Now getting that free from Google and having it instantly integrate with your Analytics gives Google Optimize a huge “WOW” factor.

Features Offered by Google Optimize in Common With Paid Alternatives

Plug & Play

Well, they are all very easy to set up. If you’ve set up Analytics, it essentially the same. All you need to do is sign up for Google Optimize and add a small amount of code to your website (this might be the last time you need your developer’s help with split testing).

Visual Editing

Anyone who uses WordPress and has a modern theme is probably used to what visual editing can do for them. Google Optimize offers this just as the 2 paid alternatives do. To implement Google Optimize you’ll need to be using the Chrome browser and install the extension and you’re ready to go. You can change headline texts, calls to action, button colours and the like.


All 3 tools allow you to preview your pages and check you are happy with them before letting them go live to run your experiments.

Testing Options

All three tools allow you to split, A/B and multivariate tests. Let’s make clear on the differences but remember that Google Optimize has its limits.

  • Split testing is testing on two separate URLs
  • A/B split testing is testing on the same URL with something changed
  • Multivariate testing normally when a number of page elements are changed and normally there are a number of pages

Big Advantage of Google Optimize Other Than Being Free

Well, yeah, other than being free it plugs straight into your Analytics and works for a single site allowing you to add testing to your objectives and goals inside Analytics. Having Ads and Analytics linked means you can get feedback on your split testing option from an Adwords advert to two different landing pages and know which landing page is resulting in more conversions or better through traffic, for example.

Limitations of Google Optimize

Limit on Live Experiments

You can only be running a maximum of three simultaneous experiments with Google Optimize. That’s not enough for optimising professionals but if you’re new to doing this, you’ll be occupied for some time.

Limit of Goals

Google Optimize also limits the goals to measure per experiment to three goals. That’s a lot for a single experiment even for pros to decide which page variant is the winner before moving on.

Limits on Multivariate

You can only run 16 multivariate tests at a time. That would normally be four different elements per page on four pages and doesn’t match up to those who need to do much broader multivariate testing.

Waiting Time

Google Optimize results aren’t live, just like Ads and Analytics. There’s a delay which can be a big deal if you are talking a high number of conversions you are missing out on.

Site Performance Focused

Google Optimize lacks data to let you know why each page is performing better. There’s no on-page analytics. Paid tools that deliver detailed heat maps, for example, provide very good data on how people are viewing your page, for example. That kind of data allows you to make small changes, such as moving your buy button to a better spot to that leads to a purchase. You can’t see that level of detail with Google Optimize. You can only see whether the page is doing what you want or not, this is considered site analysis.

So summing up, Google Optimize really is for those who are new to optimizing and gives them a chance to do it without paying for the tool. That’s not to say that easy implementation of split testing won’t make a big difference to your revenue either. Google Optimize still allows for some pretty sophisticated testing without the time lag associated with mocking up pages and getting them implemented before running experiments.

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