google optimize

Written by 3:34 pm Google Optimize

Setting Up a Basic Experiment With Google Optimise

Google’s free A/B testing and multi variant testing tool allows you to make live changes to a page, without the need for design or dev work.

February 19th 2020

Google’s landing page experimentation and multi-variant testing platform, Optimise (or Optimize for those in North America!) allows marketers to test making multiple changes to a section of their website dynamically by inserting a snippet of HTML. The free platform gives you the opportunity to either create a variation of a page, or create a redirect test pitting 2 or more landing pages against each other.

Why Would You Want To Do This?

Why wouldn’t you! It’s a great tool to understand what messaging works for potential new customers you’ll get to see over a period of time by a statistical margin what variation of a journey works better for your goals. By measuring your journeys like this, it takes away the nature of opinions on creative, strap lines, offers, and promotions, you can let your users decide what works for them, and if enough of them go with a choice, why would you do anything else?

Setting Up Google Optimize On Your Website

Firstly, you’ll need to set up an account with Google Optimize, this is obviously very simple to do and can be done by signing in with your Google account that is linked to your email address. The platform works in the same way as Tag Manager or Analytics, in that you will be given the option to set up several accounts within a single view (however, all will require different set up options so it’s probably best to set up a single container per website/client.

From here, you’ll need to add a snippet of code to your website in order for the platform to be able to make changes to the website from a viewers’ point of view (i.e. dynamically changing the HTML according to your requirements). You can do this a couple of ways, either by changing up the google analytics global site tag:

google optimize snippet

Or if can add the Optimize container ID directly into Google Tag Manager, this is the easiest way to add the code without needing any dev help:

google optimize gtm configuration

Once the snippet of code is in the site, Optimize will give you an indication of whether it can see the code, then you’re good to go to start creating experiments.

So, in order to make live changes to a page on your site, you’ll need to install the Google Optimize chrome plug in, without this, you won’t be able to use the tool. Of course you can view reports and set up experiments on another browser, but making changes is where all of the magic happens, and for that you’ll need Chrome. You can download the extension here.

Setting Up a A/B Test

Let’s make a small change to the home page in this experiment, firstly, choose the button ‘Let’s Go’ on your first experiment, or if you have already been through this stage, choose ‘Create Experience’, then enter the URL of the page you are planning to edit, then A/B Test from the list of options:

create an experience

Name the test something that clearly explains what’s happening in the experiment, this allows you to quickly identify what is currently running, and what tests you have ran in the past.

Once you’ve hit ‘Create’ you’ll be taken to a section that allows you to set up all of the variables to be included in the test. It’s important to remember that nothing will be set live until you launch, everything you’re doing at this time is in draft:

optimize set up screen

Now you’ve chosen your editor page (in this case I’ve chosen the home page), you can then go ahead and add a variant that you want to be the ‘experiment page’, select add variant to set this up and give it a name. From here, the variant will appear, and you can start to make changes.

You’ll now be able to edit your page, by making live changes, either by changing elements, or editing the HTML (the latter being one for more advanced developers):

optimise editor

Select any element on the page, then use the settings dialogue box which should appear in the bottom right corner, to start to make changes to the element. Let’s say I wanted to make some simple changes, like changing the name of the menu item ‘Digital Marketing Blog’ to see if users responded more to something a little different, like ‘Digital Marketing News & Insights’. I would select the element, the select ‘Edit element’ then ‘Edit text’, the editor brings in the CSS of the page and allows you to easily make the text change:

the six times a/b test changes

From there, select ‘Done’ and that change is complete. Let’s also remove the hero image and story, so that some of the other articles appear closer to the top of the page. To do this, just select the element, click ‘Edit element’ then click ‘Remove’. You’ll need to do this for every element in that section:

the six times test changes 2

The section is removed and the content down the page has moved up. Once you’ve made all of your changes, select save in the top right corner, then ‘Done’ to take you back to the set-up area.

Once you’re back in set-up mode, you can then start to define which traffic sees the experience and how you will measure the success of the test.

Page Targeting:

This section allows you set the landing page(s) that will trigger the experiment, in our experiment, we’ve only changed up the home page, so there won’t be any need to target any other URL other than that. An example of when you might use this feature, is when you would want to exclude any pages that you don’t want to be included in the test. For example, you may be targeting a group of pages across a subdomain at scale, but certain pages may be excluded as they may have an offer or promotion that you want to isolate outside of a particular test.

Audience Targeting:

This is a nice feature, it enables you to pick either all visitors who land on the page, or a specific audience set. What this means, is that you can target visitors who only come from, paid search via Google Ads, or you can select certain UTM parameters in the URL string to be present in order to trigger the experiment.

Google Analytics:

This is the key part if you want to seamlessly track the performance of your test campaign. Connect your Google Analytics account using the credentials that have access to the test site in question (ideally it should be the same as your Google Optimize login otherwise you won’t be able to connect).


Once you’ve connected GA, you’ll need to assign a primary objective which should be a goal which has already been set up. Select the Google Analytics goal, then this will automatically be brought into the reporting section later on to analyse performance of the test.

Traffic Allocation:

What this means is what percentage of the traffic going to the pages that will be entered into the experience. Usually you will leave this as 100% if it’s a straight up A/B test, however, you may want to use this to limit the amount of risk when running an experiment. For example, if a test goes completely wrong and not as you expected (which can happen and hence the reason why it’s a test!), then you may only want to limit the test to 50% of all the traffic.


Once you’ve set all of the parameters, you can then hit the ‘Start’ button in the top right corner, to either start straight away, or to schedule a start date.

From there, you’ll see a tab at the top named ‘reporting’ when you first click into the running experiment. Once in this tab you’ll start to see the metrics of your experiment:

google optimize reporting

In a simple, easy to use dashboard, Google Optimize will tell you which variation of the page is performing best according to your primary objective. From here you will see number of sessions, conversions, conversion rate, and analysis of which variation is likely to be the best performing according the statistics at that particular time.

The test will end when the end date hits, or there is a variation that is statistically performing the best, and Optimize will make a decision to end the experiment based on this data.

For more about Google Optimize, or to start your first experiment, view the official site here.