How to Set Up a Google Content Experiment

As if Google Analytics wasn’t awesome enough, the popular free tool also has split testing capabilities built into it. And it’s called “Content Experiments”. The nice thing about this tool is that its built right into Google Analytics, which means that you don’t need to set up any new Goals in GA. This video will take you step-by-step through the process of setting up a Content Experiment within Google Analytics.

Video Transcript

Hey. What’s up, everybody? It’s Brian Dean, from Quick Sprout. In this video, I’m going to show you how to setup, run, and manage Google Analytics’ Content Experiments, which are basically landing page split tests that you can run directly within your Google Analytics dashboard.

Your first step is to setup a goal for your site. If you don’t already have a goal setup, you need this in place in order for this to work, or else you won’t know which pages are converting better. To do that, log in to your Google Analytics account and click on Admin. Choose the account and property that you want to add a goal to, and click on Goals. Next, click on Create a Goal, and you can either choose a template that Google Analytics suggests for what a conversion is for you or you can click on Custom and setup a custom goal.

If you don’t see something here that really screams to you, ‘This is perfect,’ you want to setup a custom goal because that’s actually more straightforward than a template. Choose Custom or one of the templates, click on Next Step, and then you want to set a goal description. You want to give your goal description a name, something that you’re going to easily recognize; something like ‘newsletter signup’ or ‘new account creation. Usually, you want to set it as a destination. This is a page that people are going to land on after they convert, so whether that’s purchasing a product, signing up for an account, signing up for your newsletter, or you can set them up for things like events. If you want someone to play a video or stay on your site for a certain amount of time, you can do that too. In most cases, you’ll have a destination as your goal. Choose Destination and click on Next Step. You want to enter the URL that people land on when they convert. Usually, it’s something like thankyou.html. Just make sure that you only put after the forward slash the URL. You don’t want to put something like; just ‘thank you’ is enough. If there’s no HTML, just like this.

You can also add a value. If you know that every time someone signs up for your newsletter you make $10, or whenever someone purchases a product from you it costs $25, you can do that. Once that’s setup, click on Verify This Goal, and Google will tell you how many people would have converted in the past based on the information that you give it. If you see a 0% conversion rate, it usually means there’s something messed up that you setup here, so you want to adjust either the landing page or something else about the goal to make sure it works before you actually create the goal. Once you see that you have some conversions coming in based on the information that you gave it, click on Create Goal, and you’ll see your new goal added to the list.

Once you have that setup, it’s time to setup your first content experiment. To do that, head back to Google Analytics’ homepage, choose the site that you want to do a content experiment on, then click on Behavior in the sidebar, and choose Experiments from the list. You’re almost ready to start your first experiment. The first thing you want to do now is determine the URL of the page that you want to improve. Let’s say that I wanted to test my homepage versus this very different new landing page. What I do is take the URL of the homepage and enter it here. This is the page that I want to improve. In this case, my homepage, but it could be an internal page, it could be a popular landing page, it could even be a blog post on your site. Once you enter that and you see a little preview, click on Start Experimenting. Next, give your experiment a descriptive name. If you were testing two landing pages against each other, you could put ‘landing page experiment #1’, or you can get more specific. If you have a specific type of landing page on your site, like feature page, you could do that.

Next, choose the objective for that experiment, which would be the goal that you just setup or already had setup within Google Analytics. Find the goal and choose that from the list. Next, choose the percentage of traffic that are going to be part of your experiment. Usually, you want to leave this at 100% because that’s going to allow you to get your results faster. If you’re running a very different landing page compared to the one you have now and it’s a bit risky, you may want to lower this percentage just to make everything works out before you run a full-on 100% split test. Next, enter the URL of the original page, so that’s the page that people currently see when they visit your site and the experiment page. This is the variation of that page, so it might be totally different or it could be the same page with just a different headline. Either way, it needs to be hosted on a separate URL. Enter those two URL’s. If you want to test more than two pages against each other, you can do that by clicking on Add Variation, and then entering the same detail.

Once that’s setup, click on Next Step. Next, it’s time to get the experiment code for you to add to your website. If you can manually insert the code, if you know enough coding or your site runs in WordPress, you can click on Manually Insert the Code, and then get that code and add it to your site, or you can send the code to your webmaster. We’re going to assume that you’re able to add it, so click on Manually Insert the Code, then head over to your WordPress dashboard, hover over Plugins and click on Add New. You want to type in ‘Google Content Experiments’ and click on Search Plugins. The first result will be the Google Content Experiments plugin, and you want to install and activate that just like you would any other plugin in WordPress. Next, head over to the WordPress editor of the original page in your experiment, scroll down, and you’ll notice a new area added to your WordPress editor called Google Content Experiment Setting, and it’s the original page so you want to click Yes, This is the Original Page of the Content Experiment. Grab the code that you just received in Google Analytics, paste it here, and then update the page. Next, head back to Google Analytics and click on Next Step. Finally, click on Start Experiment, and you’re good to go. Your Google Analytics Content Experiment will start right away.

As you can see, this doesn’t take a whole lot of effort to setup, but the payoff in terms of increased conversions is definitely huge and worth it. Thanks for watching this video. I’ll see you in the next one.