In a move that could ruffle the feathers of some e-commerce Web site consultants and analytics software providers, Google has unveiled a site optimization tool that enables advertisers to test landing pages. The Website Optimizer, released in beta today, lets online sellers test separate landing page components such as headlines, product features and images to determine the page with the best conversion rates. The new tool complements Google Analytics, a system for tracking AdWords campaign effectiveness.
AdWords and Google Analytics account holders are eligible to use the tool for free "on an acceptance basis," according to the company. The system allows site operators to run experiments to isolate the landing pages and their content components that deliver the highest sales and sign ups. Once they've created landing page variations, advertisers tag them with code formulated by the system. When users click on the advertiser's AdWords ads, test pages are served to them directly by the optimization system.
Advertisers can analyze results throughout the experimentation phase, the duration of which depends on traffic rates and complexity. In addition to measuring landing page conversion rates and pageviews, the tool's reports gauge how site variations work in conjunction, and separately. Reports show estimated conversion rates, probability of success through altering page elements, improvement over the original landing page, and the significance of specific page features.
Google is partnering with Web analytics consulting firms EpikOne and Optimost to provide professional services to clients requiring more in-depth services.
Firms providing Web analytics software or those serving small businesses could feel a pinch as customers move to the latest free AdWords apparatus, said Mark Wachen, CEO of Optimost. However, companies like his that service large clients and don't offer a do-it-yourself product won't be affected negatively, he added. Optimost counts IAC, HP and Delta among its current roster of clients.
"We don't really view this as competition," he said. "Google's going to build awareness for the category."
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Kate Kaye was Managing Editor at ClickZ News until October 2012. As a daily reporter and editor for the original news source, she covered beats including digital political campaigns and government regulation of the online ad industry. Kate is the author of Campaign '08: A Turning Point for Digital Media, the only book focused on the paid digital media efforts of the 2008 presidential campaigns. Kate created ClickZ's Politics & Advocacy section, and is the primary contributor to the one-of-a-kind section. She began reporting on the interactive ad industry in 1999 and has spoken at several events and in interviews for television, radio, print, and digital media outlets. You can follow Kate on Twitter at @LowbrowKate.
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