Last week, Google announced the open beta for Google Website Optimizer, a free testing tool available to any AdWords marketer. I had the opportunity to discuss it with Tom Leung, business product manager for Google. For those of you who didn’t listen to it, here it is in print.
Bryan Eisenberg: Many have been talking and blogging about how Google Optimizer will enhance the usability of the Web in general. Please share your thoughts about that. Also, tell us a bit about what Google Optimizer does.
Tom Leung: Let me give you a quick example. Let’s say you had a bicycle Web site, and you sold bicycle accessories online. The way you’d design some of those pages is that, for the most part, you’d work with a Web designer. They come back with a few design mockups, and you kind of point at the one you think would work best. You would base that largely on your gut feel, or opinion. In some cases, whoever is the most senior person in the room will just tell you, “I like that one,” and you go with it. This scenario is wrought with a lot of guessing and opinions. What we’re doing is trying to change that with Google Website Optimizer.
What the tool does is allow you to instrument the page so that you can test a whole variety of ideas. So you aren’t limited to picking just one of a few design mockups. You can literally test hundreds, if not thousands, of versions of a page. When a visitor arrives at your site, we’ll show them a specific version, and it tracks whether or not they convert, whether it’s purchasing a product, or signing up for a newsletter, or whatever you decide is a successful conversion. Then, it will report back to you which combination worked the best. It takes the guesswork out of marketing by letting customers tell you what works best for them by letting them vote with their clicks. You can constantly test new hunches, new ideas, and turn your Web site into a living laboratory. We think that ultimately this is going to make a better Internet overall…