A Guide to WordPress A/B Testing through Google Analytics

Posted by on Sep 7, 2013 in Wordpress and Blogging Tips | 0 comments

When it comes to webpages and websites it’s often the little things that make a difference. You may be amazed but the tiniest incremental differences can make the most significant changes to conversions and sales.

The answer to this is A/B split testing as you may already know. A/B testing allows you to try out two different versions of a page to find which one performs the best. It’s a tried and tested manner to increase conversions and we’re going to show you how to use Google Analytics to do so on your WordPress website.

Before you Test

It’s pivotal to take into account a number of things before you test your website to ensure the most accurate and apt optimisation.

  • You need to decide on the areas to test and these should be selected in accordance with the result you want.  So, if you wish for more signups then you will need to test field boxes, sign up forms etc. If you want to increase sales conversions – the checkout can be a good place to start.
  • Be focused and consistent when testing. You need to schedule your testing to prevent a pileup of data and to ensure accuracy.
  • Decide on a set period for testing and ensure you have enough traffic to test; otherwise the statistics may not be accurate. Ideally you will need 100 clicks or more prior to testing to ensure that the results are accurate. The higher the number of clicks the more likely the A/B split testing will be accurate.

First things First

Before you begin, you’ll need to do a few things if you’ve not already done them.

  • Install and set up a Google Analytics Account on your WordPress site
  • You also need two versions of the page that you are testing. One copy can be the original and the other should have a different layout, typography or something else than the first. The original and variation will need to be published

How to Set Up your Test

  • Google Analytics offers a quite easy manner to get things up and running. Within the program, A/B testing is known as experiments. This can be found by going to the ‘content’ tab on the left of the page, clicking and then scrolling down to experiments. Clicking on your URL will get you started.
  • Now, choose a name for the test and an objective. This allows you to choose and track the number of visitors to each variation page achieve the objective. As an example, this goal could be the number of people that flow through a certain channel to your goal page. So, how many people complete a registration form and land on a thank you page for example. This would then be counted as one completed objective.
  • The next thing to do is to choose different variations of the page for people to land on. As we said make alternative versions of the page and make them publically accessible. These can have different calls to action, designs and layouts.
  • When you add these you will be taken to the next page which has a code to add to the WordPress site’s header. Copy and paste this to the theme’s header. php file.
  • By adding this code visitors will be directed to different versions of the page. Simply, replace $page_id with the id of your original page. It’s also possible to do this by using a tool for WordPress called Google Content Experiments – this means you don’t have to modify the code.
  • When this is completed and you’ve added the code to the original page, you can then click through to Google Analytics and press the Next tab. This verifies the experiment with Google and that it’s properly installed. Now, simply press the start experiment to begin A/B testing on the pages.
  • Now that this is complete you should have no problems and you’re A/B testing on WordPress should be underway. It often takes a period of time before Google begins to showcase the results of the test data. As a digital marketing agency in Leeds and London we’ve seen some of our client’s conversions benefit numerous folds after this testing.
  • During the process some visitors will be sent to the alternative pages and some the original pages. Return visitors will continue to be shown the same variation on their subsequent visits when the experiment is on-going.
  • As time goes on Google Analytics will then inform you which pages are working better than others and helping you better meet your objective. It also decides on a winner if it can see that one page is significantly doing better than the other page.

Split page testing can play a significant part in the success of a website and it’s not unknown for conversions to increase significantly after the best page option is chosen. So, why not go ahead and see if you can improve your website with a little help from A/B testing.


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