Google Tests New AdWords Feature

Google Wednesday began a public beta test of a new tool aimed at helping paid search marketers increase conversion rates by testing multiple configurations of the same page.

The tool, Google Website Optimizer, allows site owners to test different headlines, copy and images on sites to evaluate which combinations give the most conversions as represented by sales, signups or other actions.

Google is testing the tool in partnership with two Web analytics consulting firms, EpikOne and Optimost, which will provide additional professional support and consulting. AdWords marketers can apply to be invited to test the tool, which will be available for free.

Mark Wachen, CEO of Optimost, said he expects that Google's test will draw attention to the field of optimizing Web sites via testing. "For five years we've been pitching multivariable testing and the benefits of it," he said, adding that many marketers remained unaware of the strategy. The new Google initiative, he said, will "bring us much more into the mainstream."

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Greg Sterling, principal of Sterling Marketing Intelligence, said the move marks an attempt by Google to help smaller advertisers that can't afford professional Web site optimization to get better performance on their landing pages, which in turn, will increase their loyalty to the Google brand. "To the extent that it helps people build better landing pages and get better conversion rates, it's a good thing," he said. "Then Google gets rewarded with continued spending from its advertisers."

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