Serving up my thoughts since 2004

Why you NEED to be using Google Analytics with Google Website Optimzer

I’ve written in past posts about how to get all of the great GA data for each of your combinations in GWO.

A couple of months ago I ran an experiment that showed me why doing so isn’t just a “nice thing to have”, but a necessity.

I was comparing two significantly different versions of a promotion page (whole page split). You can see them here:
Old (control) Version
New Version

After a couple of weeks of testing, GWO was reporting that the new version was performing 7.03% worse than the old version. I was a bit surprised because of the radical difference between the two pages.

At that point I started looking at numbers GA provided as well. At first I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. Then I took a look at the page performance segmented by visitor type (New / Return visitors) and my eyes opened wide.

For new visitors, the new version of the page was performing much better (over 40% improved conversion rate) and for return visitors the old version of the page was performing much better (over 20% better conversion rate).

Going forward, we now show new users the new version of the page and return users the old version. I have a few theories on why we’re seeing this behavior, but that’s a bit beyond the scope of this post. I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments.

What this shows us is that while GWO is an excellent tool, it can be a bit blunt when used on it’s own. Very often the most valuable information is in the details.

– Ophir


  1. I only recently discovered the website optimizer, great tool. I do like your new version better as well, looks more professionally designed.

  2. Hi Ophir,

    You wrote some great topics and the video about the GWO installment provides a clear explanation.

    I about to start GWO experiment on a client site that use dynamic generated pages.
    We use GA from day one.
    The GWO testing page is the credit card form when the conversion point is the thank you page right after successful form compilation.

    We don’t use a receipt page nor url address that holds the purchaser ID – just simple thank you message.

    The webmaster has some difficulties to implement a clear URL for the thank you page because the use of SSL so the current Goal data on GA is unclear.

    I’m worried about starting the GWO test without finishing the correct adjustment for GA.

    Should I start the GWO test or wait few weeks while the PPC budget is reducing and conversion rates below 1%…?


  3. Hi O.D

    I’m not really sure why you are worried about starting GWO without the “correct adjustment” for GA.
    You usually don’t need to change ANYTHING in GA when using GWO.

    I would just go ahead and start testing, since you need to start walking before you can run.

    – Ophir

  4. Hi,

    “correct adjustment” of GA will enable to know the convertion rate…right now I don’t have the GA convetion data, Only reports from the reservation team.

    I’ll email you later about the specific GA configuration.

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