Google Analytics recently announced that in addition to providing metrics and reports on site performance, they are now a testing platform with Content Experiments API. The tool enables websites to test site content easily with programmable optimization to achieve objectives in Analytics. In other words, you can test variations of landing pages and see which one leads to the most conversions or overall provides the best user experience.
The way Google Analytics accomplishes this is through “multi-armed bandit” experiments. The name comes from the slang term for slot machines as “one-armed bandits” and the idea of several slot machines with different payouts. The goal of the multi-armed bandit approach is to find the machine with the best payout, while also exploring new machines and capitalizing on those payouts. In a nutshell, it’s a statistical formula that adjusts traffic so a landing page variation that is performing well gets more traffic and an underperforming variation gets less, allowing the Analytics user to determine which variation performs best.
Content Experiments allow you to test up to five different versions of a particular webpage. Basically, a random sample of your site’s visitors will see a different version when they navigate to your site. As with all things Google Analytics, there is a lot of flexibility in terms of how these experiments are set up and the different metrics that you can view in reports.
OK, before I go too far down the rabbit hole, what does this mean for SEO? Content Experiments are a great way to determine the user experience of a particular landing page and as we all know, a good user experience is key to SEO. Google favors sites that provide excellent users experiences so finding the most effective and user-friendly variation of your webpage can be a crucial supplement to SEO. Also, Content Experiments have the added benefit of being able to test these variations simultaneously so you don’t have to waste time and energy testing pages one at a time.
Of course, I’ve just touched the tip of the iceberg in this article; the metrics and reporting flexibility available is staggering. Content Experiments is yet another powerful tool Google Analytics has added to their arsenal to help your website perform better and improve your internet marketing campaign. You can read more about Content Experiments for Google Analytics here.