▷ Google Optimize: Full Tut 2018 – Test and Customize Your Website

This article is a textual and pictorial version of the presentation I made for Google digital workshops at eCom in Geneva. It introduces the key concepts of the website test, the presentation of Google Optimize and its use from A to Z …

Key concepts

All site owners have one problem in common: " how to improve the results generated by my site? "

Training & Co'm

Indeed, in 2018, there is no longer any doubt for anyone that a website should be a massive business generation weapon 🙂

1. The basis: bring traffic

The first step for any site owner is therefore to bring traffic (qualified).

It usually starts with natural, social (free) traffic and a little referral.

For the more daring, this can also include some paid traffic (Adwords and / or for example Facebook).

2. Analyze and understand the segments

The second step is to analyze the traffic who comes to the site.

This usually goes through the Search Console, to understand what searches our site is on which pages.

But also (and mainly) by Google Analytics to be able to analyze the best performing segments and understand which resources on our site generate the most commitments and at the end of the day the most results.

(I assume that goals have been set in Google Analytics)

Why ? Just because relevance is the key.

From my experience, the relevance between the research intent (and / or audience characteristics) and what is being proposed on the landing page is one of the major performance criteria. (the credibility / trust is another by the way :-))

So, be able to identify specific segments (rather than looking at average traffic), study these segments to better understand them (we are investigators!) will allow to be more precise and more relevant.

Which brings us to the next point.

3. Improve its acquisition strategy

This is usually the next step.

Although improving the business performance of a site is an equation with one side the acquisition and the other the landing pages, most people consider priority (or only) optimization of traffic.

This is how we start to segment the traffic and send it to different, more specific pages (or even create new ones).

It makes sense (off course!). But we find quickly limits.

  • How to go further ?
  • How can one, on a given page for a given segment, improve the performance?
  • How to be more relevant with the context of visitors? Especially since the context is quickly hundreds of parameters …

We are not going to create hundreds of pages …

That's where Google Optimize comes in 🙂

4. Test the elements of the pages

With Google Optimize, you can start, for a given segment, to test the different elements and / or messages of your page dedicated to this segment:

Instead of creating 3, 4, 5 pages, you create as many variations in 30 seconds.

5. Customize according to the context of the visitor

You can also customize your messages / items according toa multitude of context elements of the visitor.

If for example the user is:

  • On iPhone vs Android smartphone;
  • On a mobile or a computer;
  • In Paris or Geneva.

And these are the that basic options.

Thanks to integration with Google Tag Manager and access to data layer variables, you can do incredible things (the subject of a more advanced article project).

Google Optimize Overview

Let it be clear. Google Optimize is a relatively young product compared to other actors established for years.

On some features, it may be a little less complete or less (but not that much).

On the other hand, the enormous strength of the tool is fully integrated into the Google ecosystem. A huge asset. (and it's free too :-))

Thanks to this, we answer 3 major challenges related to optimization:

Data consistency

You use Optimize metrics and goals that you have already created in Google Analytics to measure the success of your experiments (you can also create them in the tool if necessary).


Customize the experiences of your visitors according to the device, the geography, the origin, the behavior on the site, the audiences * …


Integrations with BigQuery, Google Analytics, Adwords, Google Tag Manager allowing advanced segmentation of test results, advanced targeting for experimentation and end-to-end optimization for Adwords campaigns.

How to set up Google Optimize on my site?

1. Create a Google Optimize account

Go to https://optimize.google.com

Generally, one account is created per company.

You can create multiple Optimize accounts with the same Google Account. And several containers per Optimize account.

2. Create a Google Optimize container

Generally, it's a question of creating a container per website since you connect Google Analytics and Optimize at the container level.

3. Associate your container with a Google Analytics property

Choose from the list the Google Analytics property of the site you want to test.

Note: for this to be possible, the Google account used for Optimize must also have Analytics access.

4. Get the installation code

After you've linked the Analytics property to the Optimize account, Google offers the code to install.

5. Implement Google Optimize code on your site

Recommended method: via Google Analytics

Google recommends installing Optimize through Google Analytics. You need to add a line to the tracking code (analytics.js or gtag.js)

Install the Hiding Snippet (Google Analytics method only)

Additional code to insert before the Analytics tracking code to avoid the flicker effect.

For info (or reminder) the flicker effect is materialized by seeing the original variant for one second before seeing the modified variant.

Via Google Tag Manager

You can also install Google Optimize via Google Tag Manager.

This requires good control of the tool to implement without flickering.

The problem is that all tags inserted by GTM are asynchronously. It is therefore difficult to manage the trigger order.

And the Optimize tag must be triggered first, at the earliest and before the Google Analytics tag.

Personally I almost always implement with GTM. (as a rule :-)). I give you my secret for it to work.

I assure myself :

  • That the GTM container is placed immediately after the opening tag ;
  • That the Optimize tag is the one with the highest priority (I put 100 in general).

  • I set a tag sequencing so that the Google Analytics tag is triggered immediately after the Optimize tag.

And there is no problem. No need to hidding snippet, no flicker 🙂

Step-by-step implementation in video

History of not reinventing the wheel, I link the videos of Measureschool.

It shows step by step the implementation of Optimize code for the 3 methods: here.

Create your first test

After installing the code on your site, you are ready to create your first test.

Excited? Great, let's go 🙂

Start by clicking the blue button to create a test.

Then, in order:

  • Give a name (explicit) to your test;
  • Fill in the URL that you want to test.

Important: This is the web page that you will use to create variants.

But based on the changes you will make on a template page, you can then apply that to a set of pages of the same type. History of learning viiiiite 🙂

Example: I take a specific product sheet to make my modified variant. Then, when targeting (which we will see right after), I apply this to all product listings.

  • Determine the type of test;
  • Click on the blue Create button.

Break: understand the types of tests

A / B / N Testing

Compare 2 or more variations of a page to see which one performs best.

Ideal for optimize a page and improve granularly.

Example: I have an already segmented page that receives targeted traffic and I want to "fine tuner" its performance by testing different messages and / or visuals and / or delete or add items.

Multivariate tests

Test multiple variations of elements on a single page for granular optimization.

Same principle as above. We test more things at once, but we learn less quickly too.

Depends on your purpose (learn fast or test more things).

Redirect tests

Test big changes (example: a page redesign) or different paths in a tunnel by testing one URL against the other.

Set your goals

  1. Choose a Google Analytics goal (from the associated property) or create one directly in Optimize;
  2. (Optional) Add one or more secondary objectives;
  3. Formulate a clear hypothesis. In a month, when you look at the results of your different tests you might not remember exactly what you were trying to learn / demonstrate. Very important to inform the hypothesis 🙂

Define your targeting

Define the rules of application of your experiment. The possibilities are many 🙂

This can be as simple as different variants for different devices or different locations.

But it is also possible to be ultra advanced with the use of cookies or Datalayer data variables.

The use of cookies may allow for example to circumvent one of the main limitations of the free version of Optimize: can not target remarketing audiences (functionality currently reserved for Optimize 360).

For more details on each targeting, see this page.

Tip: As mentioned above, URL targeting allows you to apply your changes to a set of pages (Of the same type or not, even if in all logic most of the time we do it on the same type of page).

Personally, I missed early. That's why I insist.

Let's take my example: I made a simplified variant of the product sheet. And now I want to apply it to all my product sheets.

I will then create a rule and click on URL.

There, I target all the URLs that correspond to my product listings. To do this, I can use different operators:

  • Correspond to ;
  • Equals ;
  • Contains;
  • Starts with ;
  • To end by ;
  • and matches the regular expression.

To make sure you did not make a mistake, you have a verification feature.

All in detail about URL targeting here.

!!!Warning!!! : by making a change to a set of pages, make sure you only make changes to the elements of the page template.

If you edit an element that is not an element of the template, but an item specific to a product master (example: the product title), this change will be applied to all pages and will apply this title to all product sheets.

Create a page variation

Now that you have defined your goals and targeting, you can create your variants:

Note: To use the visual editor you need the Google Optimize extension and Chrome (version 45 or higher).

Visual Editor: create experiments without developers

The visual editor allows:

  • Minimum setup time (30 seconds may be enough)
  • A simple & intuitive interface: we select the elements and a dialog box allows us to modify just a few things.
  • Edit text, images, CSS styles, blocks
  • Edit HTML and javascript (advanced)

Be careful though, the visual editor is in no case a "builder" of page to the Unbounce for example. (And that's a shame)

This is the second major limitation of the tool in my opinion.

This editor makes it possible to modify relatively simply the elements of a page, but when one wishes to make modifications a little evolved, it quickly becomes complicated.

Start your test

When you have defined objective (s), targeting (s) and variant (s), you can start your test:

See the results of your tests

Follow your test

In each test you have a report creation tab that allows you to follow your test :

When the test is complete, Optimize informs you when a winning variant is detected. Or if the test gave no winner.

Tip: Determine in advance the duration of the test

Never stop your test on an opinion or impression.

I recommend using a tool for define in advance how many sessions you will have to accumulate per variant to ensure the reliability of your test (from a statistical point of view).

Optimizely offers one here: https://www.optimizely.com/sample-size-calculator/

More information on the concept of statistical meanness here: https://conversionxl.com/blog/ab-testing-statistics/

Attention: The averages lie

Your test can (also) be analyzed in Google Analytics.

Why ?

Because typically, the test gives you the average score for all targeted visitors.

You have to go Segment test results in Google Analytics by applying segments.

Classic example: segmentation by device:

Warning : when you segment, you reduce (virtually) the size of the observed sample.

Your test may not be statistically significant.

You will have to accumulate more data.

Simple example: if you have to have 2000 visits per variant to be reliable, you will also need 2000 visits per variant per segment.

Do not waste your cartridges

In the free version of Google Optimize, you are only entitled to 5 experiments at the same time.

And a test takes time to obtain reliable results.

Do not waste your 5 cartridges to test the color of the buttons.

Test for maximum impact.

Some ideas :

  • Test your value proposition: can you be clearer? More benefit oriented?
  • Try to reduce friction: how could you make actions simpler? faster?
  • Motivation: how could you increase the motivation of your visitors to perform the expected actions?
  • Relevance: in relation to the source of traffic, or the place of consultation or the device of connection, how could you make the experience even more relevant?

Additional resources

Official Google Optimize Help Center: https://support.google.com/optimize/?hl=en#topic=6314903

Diagnosing Optimize Installation Issues: https://support.google.com/optimize/answer/7577190?hl=en

Some excellent resources to optimize your site (understand the business of Conversion Rate Optimizer regardless of any tool):