Author Archive andyw


Google Website Optimizer – Why Is Google Burying Their Split Testing Tool?

From August 1 2012, Google Website Optimizer (GWO) will no longer be available to its users. That’s right, Google are taking their free split-testing tool off the market.

Instead, they’ve made a new tool available inside their Google Analytics software, called “Content Experiments”. (It’s available now if you want to give it a try).

Clearly, Google has some very smart cookies working for them – so they’ve no doubt thought this through. But from a user perspective, it does beg the question whether it’s really the wisest move.

True, for those who already have Google Analytics installed, there’s now only one snippet of code to insert on a site for a testing experiment. (Compared to the multiple snippets that Google Website Optimizer requires). So that simplifies things.

Poring through the official Google statements about ending Google Website Optimizer, the emphasis is clearly on simplification as a whole. Their aim is to “simplify website testing”.

And sure, by cutting back on the kinds of tests you can perform on the new “Content Experiments” system – limiting it to A/B testing and eliminating multivariate testing functionality – the idea is evidently to make split-testing even more accessible to the masses, and to make it even easier to get started.

Not only that, their ‘Wizard’ provides step-by-step instructions on how to set up a test for the uninitiated.

But there are two clear challenges in all of this:

1) The existence of this new testing tool is not obvious inside of the Google Analytics interface. It’s not easy to find. So no matter how easy it is to use, it doesn’t really matter if the tool is hard to locate.

2) You’re now required to use Google Analytics if you want to perform a split test (which the old ‘Google Website Optimizer’ did not necessitate).

Google’s recently reported that more than 10 million websites have installed Google Analytics – so there’s clearly a wide user base who can be exposed to the merits of testing and optimizing their sites.

And that’s great for the state of the internet as a whole.

Yet only time will tell whether ‘burying’ this new testing tool inside of Google Analytics encourages more website owners to test and optimize their sites.

There’s also the strong possibility that more advanced users will search elsewhere for more advanced testing functionality than Content Experiments currently offers.

Unless Google adds some additional features like enabling multivariate testing – and broadens its limit of only 12 active tests at a time – in the next few months, heavyweight testers may need to expand their search for something a little more flexible and less limiting.

Andy Wilkinson
The Infinite Profit Solutions Team