Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Google Launches Website Optimizer

CowboyNeal posted more than 7 years ago | from the yet-another-fine-google-service dept.

66

Rockgod writes "Google Analytics Senior Manager Brett Crosby unveiled the tool, called Google Website Optimizer, this morning at the eMetrics summit in Washington D.C. If you find web site traffic heat maps like CrazyEgg, ClickDensity or Google Analytics' own heat map interesting, this looks like the next generation of that kind of tool. If Google's Website Optimizer can score high on usability, I expect it to be a big hit with small and medium size website publishers."

cancel ×

66 comments

That's great and all... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16514495)

... but what is it?

Re:That's great and all... (5, Informative)

setirw (854029) | more than 7 years ago | (#16514523)

It supposedly can determine which home pages make the greatest impression on users. I agree with you, though, that this should have been included in the summary, which is meaningless.

"algorithm" ..or google users? (4, Interesting)

adam (1231) | more than 7 years ago | (#16514717)

I'm somewhat unclear on this, and I watched 80% of the flash demo linked above before getting insanely bored (mostly due to the pace) and letting my ADHD take over. From what I can tell, they are implying that this is not an algorithm doing the "checking" of your web site, but rather human editors/users. The flash demo mentions testing optimization of images as well, which I believe wouldn't be something easily automated through an algorithm (at least not easily automated to derive USEFUL results). However, i'm a bit confused because they aren't very specific as to who or what will be testing your site for clickthru/etc. At some point I started to think "oh, okay, google editors/volunteers will be testing it" (much like the google image labeler [google.com] beta linked from /. a few weeks ago).. and then i started to suspect they are actually just using the code to run multiple "live" versions of your site and let NORMAL google users view them in a random distribution and then see which ones stay (and buy) and for how long etc. But maybe I just misunderstood and got distracted 5 seconds before they explained this haha. Anyone with the answer?

If it really is the latter method, I am sure it would work for some web sites, but I know for our company's site, we can only ever display one version of our content, as any minor changes at all tend to draw a lot of industry attention (i.e. "hey what are these guys up to.. their site updated.. OMG is the next big product about to drop, blah blah").. so I hope that out of the three methods, it's either an algorithm, or a small subset of google trustees/volunteers. But then again, our industry (digital cinema) is a typical and I'm sure no matter which method, this will work great for mom & pop selling Pokemon trading cards or whatever.

Re:"algorithm" ..or google users? (2, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 7 years ago | (#16514851)

I'm somewhat unclear on this, and I watched 80% of the flash demo linked above before getting insanely bored (mostly due to the pace) and letting my ADHD take over.

OMG I must have ADHD as well - I couldn't stand more than 30 seconds of it - just clicked on every link in the left-hand side, saw it was "more of the same" ... and was out of there!

Maybe if we want real information (like a web page that describes it) we should just google for it ... oops ... "google website optimizer" just returns articles that link to the same damn presentation.

Maybe google should have practiced what they preach and done their own "web site optimization" by having several different versions (flash, web pages) available. Didn't they get the memo - flash-only is evil?

Re:"algorithm" ..or google users? (5, Informative)

tolan-b (230077) | more than 7 years ago | (#16515243)

No the way it works is that you identify parts of a page that you want to experiment with with tags, include a javascript library on it and a conversion page, and then tell google what variations on the tagged item (alternate headlines for example) you want to test.

When someone goes to that page, google will randomly select one of your alternate headlines and replace the original one with it. It'll then check if that person buys something (or subscribes or whatever).

It then gives you a report of which variations lead to the most conversions.

Re:"algorithm" ..or google users? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16515699)

You can already do this with banners, etc., in postnuke. Select the ads you want to rotate, and you'll see the click rate per ad. Your web logs also have all this info, as well as page views, etc. Why give the info to google when you can harvest it in-house?

Re:"algorithm" ..or google users? (2, Insightful)

ffrinch (586802) | more than 7 years ago | (#16517257)

Because with Google you can do it faster and easier, with pretty reports showing you the results, and put your time into other projects.

Why use Postnuke instead of writing your own "ugly portal site" software?

Re:"algorithm" ..or google users? (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 7 years ago | (#16528217)

Gogle isn't "faster and easier". Postnuke just has you fill in the field for the sponsors anme, a limit to the number of views you want to set (or just leave it blank for unimited) in the rotation, and the link you want the banner to go to. That's it. No other preparation necesary - no preparing different forms of contents, etc. It gives views, click counts, and percentages.

MOD PARENT UP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16514761)

I mean really, how can the first post (on topic for once) be redundant?

Re:That's great and all... (4, Informative)

Jellybob (597204) | more than 7 years ago | (#16515619)

It's a tool for Adwords optimization - you give the application some blocks of your page, and several variations of the content for them, and then a percentage of your visitors get each version.

This allows you to try out different sets of content, and see which one leads to the most conversions (software downloads, sales, enquiries etc.), and hopefully save some money at the same time. We have several clients you are spending over £1000/month on Adwords, and it really pays to be able to see what works.

limited beta test = launch? (1)

mv_dude (813354) | more than 7 years ago | (#16516011)

Does a beta test that's limited to a small number of advertisers really constitute a launch? Title of this post seems a bit inaccurate.

Re:That's great and all... (1)

simontek2 (523795) | more than 7 years ago | (#16516061)

Totally agree with you. I was reading it going, mmmkay, and its what? I think the Apple 1984 commercial was more descriptive.

Enhancing your ability to get ads (4, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 7 years ago | (#16514511)

Or enhancing advertisers' ability to get your eyeballs.

Either way, it's not for us.

Re:Enhancing your ability to get ads (2, Interesting)

plover (150551) | more than 7 years ago | (#16514619)

it's not for us.
My "google-analytics.com" Adblock Plus entry had pretty much ensured that it wasn't for me regardless.

Now, if NoScript had "blacklisting" that would be even better. I currently don't like NoScript because of the bar that's constantly at the bottom of every site with scripts by google-analytics, tacoda, imrworldwide, omniture or hitbox (which is pretty much everyone.) Once I've visited a site I don't want to remember whether or not I've cleaned it up -- I'd use the presence of the warning bar to remind me. Oh well, the author says it's coming someday.

Re:Enhancing your ability to get ads (5, Interesting)

paralaxcreations (981218) | more than 7 years ago | (#16514899)

actually, google analytics does help you. Website statistics help the web master know what visitors do and do not want to see. Allowing google analytics to track your anonymous movement through a site ultimately leads to a more fulfilling user experience.

At my job, I am rather far removed from the finances, yet I am supposed to decide what and how to market. Analytics lets me do that by tracking what sells, when it sells, etc.

Does it help Google? Of course. But it also helps the webmaster of the sites you visit to create sites you want to see.

Re:Enhancing your ability to get ads (2, Insightful)

xENoLocO (773565) | more than 7 years ago | (#16515681)

I agree google analytics is helpful. However, it also increased my page load times by a long shot, so it had to be removed. It simply doesn't serve fast enough.

So I took a look at my netvibes homepage and now I use who they use, statcounter.com... it's simpler than google analytics, loads a lot faster, and you can see the results in real time.

Re:Enhancing your ability to get ads (3, Interesting)

Richard W.M. Jones (591125) | more than 7 years ago | (#16516139)

I agree google analytics is helpful. However, it also increased my page load times by a long shot, so it had to be removed. It simply doesn't serve fast enough.

Did you try putting the Javascript somewhere other than the <head>? Obviously that's the recommended place, but in fact most of the functionality still works if you bury the Javascript down as close to </body> as it will go, and that should have less effect on the effective[1] page load time.

Rich.

[1] By "effective" I mean the time until the browser can render the page for the user, rather than the total load time.

Re:Enhancing your ability to get ads (1)

lababidi (879163) | more than 7 years ago | (#16517659)

it actually says in the google-analytics instructions to place it just above . I did it last night for a client's page.

Re:Enhancing your ability to get ads (1)

xENoLocO (773565) | more than 7 years ago | (#16518289)

Yeah, I put it where it belongs (right above the body tag), but that doesn't help for event attachments on window load.

Re:Enhancing your ability to get ads (1)

asuffield (111848) | more than 7 years ago | (#16518529)

But it also helps the webmaster of the sites you visit to create sites you want to see.


I fail to see why I should care. The ones who manage to create sites I want to see get my custom; the rest can go out of business as far as I care. Nothing here gives me reason to help people move from the second group to the first. If they can't create sites I want to see without this, somebody else will.

Or, more briefly: Are they going to pay me for this? No? Then I'm not doing it.

Re:Enhancing your ability to get ads (1)

plover (150551) | more than 7 years ago | (#16547496)

Allowing google analytics to track your anonymous movement through a site ultimately leads to a more fulfilling user experience.

I hate to burst your bubble, but I'm not looking for an "experience" on most sites. I'm looking for whatever it was that the referring link told me the site had. If it's a search, I probably used Google or Ask to do the heavy lifting. (I don't even use Microsoft's search link on MSDN because Google does a much better job indexing their site.)

Unfortunately, google analytics can't return my level of satisfaction. If I get to a site and it has what I came for, I'll read it, be done with it, and close the tab. If the site doesn't immediately deliver what I came for, that causes frustration, and the tab gets closed. I'm not going to hunt through links and home-made search boxes to find what I want, I'm just gone. But either way I'm done with that site, and google analytics can't tell anyone the reason why.

There are only a handful of sites in my bookmark list that offer content that keeps me coming back -- Slashdot being the biggest. And even here, there's a lot of crap. I find the entire left-hand column to be a waste of screen real-estate -- I don't click on any of those links even once a month. That's not "user experience", that's crap that should be hidden away until I'm ready to go looking for it. Google analytics may tell you that I'm not using those links, but how much does anyone pay attention to what the users *don't* click on?

Re:Enhancing your ability to get ads (1)

paralaxcreations (981218) | more than 7 years ago | (#16547810)

The bar you call crap is part of the user experience- the user experience which leads you to believe that it is crap.

If you come to my site and leave immediately, it tells me you didn't see what you wanted to see. By coupling that with inbound links, I can track down where my problems are.

I think you're confused as to what "user experience" means, somehow. It is the experience a user has when using a piece of software. If you think a part of the site is crap, that doesn't make it not part of the user experience, it makes the user experience crappy. You may think it needs to be hidden- others may not think so. Fact is only commander taco & co. know the real numbers. Personally, I don't think it takes up much screen space, but I also don't run at 800x600.

Speaking of which, a typical analytics analysis (that's a lot of anal), might tell a webmaster that users running at 800x600 tend to not stay long, while those running at 1024x768 or higher stay longer, make their way deeper into the site, and maybe create an account. If a good portion of their visitors run at 800x600, they know they need to redesign for that resolution to create a better user experience. If only a marginal number use it, they can safely say "screw em."

But if everybody blocks user tracking software (like analytics), webmasters are pretty much designing in the dark, and hoping the few complaints or compliments they get are indicative of the whole. That or, you know, using templates.

"What is in it for me?" Well, if you can't see that, I can't make you see that. But remember that webmasters make websites for you (yes, of course they make money off the ads or products they sell), so it's in your best interest as a user to let them know what you want. And unless you plan on e-mailing the webmaster of every site you visit to tell them what you liked and didn't like, tracking software is a 100% painfree solution. Unless you're just saying you want to get paid for doing nothing (aside from visiting the sites you visit anyway).

Re:Enhancing your ability to get ads (1)

plover (150551) | more than 7 years ago | (#16556236)

A couple of points. First, I'm only one web surfer. I realize that, as in politics, my opinion counts for one iota more than nada -- my surfing patterns are most likely a part of a statistical anomaly, and don't model the behavior or the mainstream surfers. If you are the sort of web designer who analyzes behavior, you'd probably overlook my navigational choices as deviations anyway. And I'm fine with that -- I realize that I navigate quite differently than the rest of the horde. Should you code to my tastes? Probably not. So design your site for "the computers of the rest of them" -- they're the ones who are likely to give your advertisers eyeballs anyway.

Mostly, I block google analytics because I'd prefer to remain anonymous to google. I still haven't made up my mind about them, but I find their hoovering up of all possible data to be really creepy. Since I block both google ads as well as google analytics, I also am trying to mask the true number of people who block ads. Now that internet advertising has become a War For The Eyeballs, if they start to think 25% of the meat popsicles are blocking ads, they'll come out with new ways to defeat the ad-blocking filters. I have no desire for them to believe the number of people who block ads is growing, because as they retaliate I'll have to find new tools to block their new ads. I hope I'm delaying the arms race.

My observations have been that many web masters design their sites to please their own egos without listening to other people tell them what's really bad. "Gosh, look at my brilliant use of JavaScript to pop up these navigational aids whenever the mouse moves in the direction of the close button! I'm the cleverest web designer you'll ever hire!" No matter how awful the experience may really be for the end users, these people are convinced of their own creative skills and they sincerely don't care about people too stupid to figure out their site. They don't need my feedback because they won't use it anyway.

I'm not trying to argue that designing your site for your users is a bad thing. But what I'm saying is that I doubt most web masters are using those nebulous statistics from Google to improve their sites: they're most likely using them to increase their ad clickthrough rates, and little else. If you want unbiased valuable input, you'll be much better off running your software through a usability lab, watching struggling humans, rather than making faulty assumptions based on faceless data.

Re:Enhancing your ability to get ads (1)

Res3000 (890937) | more than 7 years ago | (#16515121)

You can remove that bar, I'm actually not sure where it is (I'm at work and have to surf with the screwed IE), but you can disable it and then you only have the little icon in the bar that shows you if NoScript is blocking scripts or not.

Re:Enhancing your ability to get ads (1)

ncc74656 (45571) | more than 7 years ago | (#16520195)

I'm at work and have to surf with the screwed IE

As long as flashsticks aren't banned at your location, you should be able to use Portable Firefox [portableapps.com] .

Re:Enhancing your ability to get ads (3, Informative)

Spliffster (755587) | more than 7 years ago | (#16516241)

"I currently don't like NoScript because of the bar that's constantly at the bottom of every site with scripts by ... "

Mozilla products are very nice because of their customisation possibilities. You can do the following:

1. open Dom inspector
2. File > Instepct a window > [select any window just not a document]
3. Search > Select Element By Click
4. click on the annoying element
5. Profit!!! ... just kidding

then see how you can identify it, if it has a n ID attribute this would be the easiest way, otherwise search for the first id in a parent node.

then open your profile folder, create the file "chrome/userChrome.css" if it does not exist. Then you can simply add some CSS (2, partially 3 ... just everything that is supported by mozilla) like:
--
#elementid {display: none;}
or
#parentelement elementname {display: none;}
--

done. You can modify any aspect of firefox (and derivates) this way, this doesn't work for SeaMonkey/Mozilla Suite however, since the UI is only in FF implemented in XUL.

Have fun!
-S

Re:Enhancing your ability to get ads (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 7 years ago | (#16514665)

Or enhancing advertisers' ability to get your eyeballs.

Either way, it's not for us.


Who's "us?"

I'm not so unhappy that some small-time creators of very interesting web sites can at leats afford to pay for their hosting by generating some targeted clicks along the way. If you can't even stand those simple text Google ads tucked below an article or off on the edge of the page offsetting the overhead of running a niche web site, you're pretty cranky. I've get to see a g-powered ad that even came close to annoying me, really.

Optimising Slashdot (3, Funny)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 7 years ago | (#16514519)

This'll be great, I can analyse Slashdot and post the results in the comments section along with some helpful suggestions, +5 Funny here I come!

*Clicks link*

*Clicks Sign up*

*Starts filling in form*

*Notices that signing up to Ad Words is required*

*Notices that adding a phone number is required*

*Gives up and decides to just post the results of W3C's HTML Validation Service instead*

Re:Optimising Slashdot (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16514561)

Hilarious!

Now... did you actually look at the site? It's nothing to do with HTML validation, and therefore has nothing whatsoever to do with the W3C's HTML Validation Service. :-P

Re:Optimising Slashdot (3, Insightful)

Richard W.M. Jones (591125) | more than 7 years ago | (#16514669)

Why was the parent marked "Off Topic"? The comment is absolutely right - this service has nothing whatsoever to do with HTML validation. It's a technique for getting more sales on your site by testing different combinations of headings / content in adverts to find out what works best.

Rich.

Re:Optimising Slashdot (3, Insightful)

BetterThanCaesar (625636) | more than 7 years ago | (#16515095)

The original poster's joke was probably that Slashdot used to block the W3C validator. It does not anymore, however.

Re:Optimising Slashdot (1)

krbvroc1 (725200) | more than 7 years ago | (#16516451)

No, I think the OP read the article headline of 'Google Launches Website Optimizer' and thought it had to do with optimizing the HTML of a website. The article should hasve been titled 'Googles Launches Ad-Revenue Optimizer to Select Advertisers'.

Re:Optimising Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16518249)

Why was the parent marked "Insightful"? Just because a few people can't take a joke, doesn't mean it has to be spelled out and rehashed and spelled out again.

Re:Optimising Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16515669)

Now... did you actually look at the site? It's nothing to do with HTML validation, and therefore has nothing whatsoever to do with the W3C's HTML Validation Service.
That's why it's funny.

Damnit, Google. Where's that Slashdot Comment Analyzer tool?

Re:Optimising Slashdot (5, Interesting)

tuomasr (721846) | more than 7 years ago | (#16514591)

Well, it seems that this is a tool for AdWords users. The demo says "Google AdWords Website Optimization" and the sign-up thing reads:

We're currently accepting sign-ups from AdWords Advertisers who are interested in participating in this beta test. We may not be able to guarantee invitations to everyone, but will be working hard to make this tool generally available to all AdWords customers in the near future.

The front-page is misleading though, as it doesn't state anything about AdWords.

Yes.. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16514551)

..but is it beta?

Re:Yes.. (1)

Bibz (849958) | more than 7 years ago | (#16514691)

Actually yes

Re:Yes.. (1)

b4lr0g (978964) | more than 7 years ago | (#16515337)

No. It's from Google labs

Re:Yes.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16515493)

I believe the real question when it comes from Google is:

Is it not beta?

This may be useful (5, Insightful)

x-vere (956928) | more than 7 years ago | (#16514585)

I think this is cool. Google Adwords is somewhat of a statistical pain in the butt. I've spent hours upon hours of my life analyzing keywords, click rates, etc. for pushing more traffic to various sites on the web. If this tool eases that pain, even just a little, I say it is a good thing. Google needs us to succeed with AdWords as much as we want to succeed.

Mixed Feelings (3, Insightful)

Sv-Manowar (772313) | more than 7 years ago | (#16514599)

Google giving advice is always going to help two sets of people - those who already have websites and want to optimise them, and those who are attempting to create websites to rank highly. If we look at why people creating websites usually want to get them to rank highly google the reasons are primarily monetary, which means that this tool is mainly giving advice to those who are trying to displace older (and possibly better sites). Say I have site A. which is dedicated to mountain biking news and has been running since 1997 with messageboards, news etc and hasn't been optimised for the best google rankings and we have Site B. which was created 3 months ago and uses RSS syndication to just serve up content from other sites and monetising it with something like adsense is the main point, then which should really rank higher in Google? I'm thinking A because it is more of a legitimate site.

I think there is a point where trying to rank highly in Google is OK for wanting to growth in your site, but if Google continue to give out such tools then surely people will start producing sites that match exactly what it wants to see in order to get traffic. I'm starting to think that it shouldn't be sites that have to be optimised for Google to rank them highly, but Google to be optimised to pick up the best sites for each search term instead of landing pages or shells that are just there for advertising revenue.

You're not a sadist enthralled by technology (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16514685)

Step 1: Create a myspace page for the mother of someone you wish to disparage.
Step 2: Get it to rank highly for "fat", "skank", or another appropriate pejorative
Step 3: Enjoy their sweet sweet tears. If possible lick them right off their face.

Re:Mixed Feelings (2, Informative)

hanwen (8589) | more than 7 years ago | (#16514733)

you're completely off the mark here. This product aims to increase effectiveness of an adwords campaign, ie. getting people to buy your stuff after they've gone to your website.
   

This is not tool to help increase a sites ranking (2, Informative)

@madeus (24818) | more than 7 years ago | (#16514929)

This is not a tool to help people increase their sites ranking in Google. It's a tool for customers who pay Google for advertising to help those advertisers drive up revenue by converting more visitors (those who notice the advert and click through) into paying customers by making their sited better at driving customers into making a purchase.

Re:Mixed Feelings (1)

Monchanger (637670) | more than 7 years ago | (#16515169)

I join your call for Google to double check their tool to make sure it "won't be evil". It would really suck to get even more web-squatters and content thieves.

That said, I disagree with your implied premise that people who use Google's search are so completely naive and unsavvy. I also think you're wrong that Google's new tool is as powerful as many would think based on the little they say.

On the first point, people don't just query "mountain bike", to use your example. They'll search for something more specific, like "buying a first mountain bike" or "Cyclemaster TR4 specs". Sure, their first query may not be optimal, but they'll soon either see a lousy site they're not happy with, or the site will be adequate to their needs. I have trust that people already know that the Internet is a mixed bag, and will shop around a little.

One example site that I keep running into at work is experts-exchange.com , which contains years' worth of forums. Google often shows me specific pages from those forums as top results, and I think the same would happen when users make a pointed search on bikes or any other topic. It shows lesser sites once in a while, but as you say- the important sites still reign.

When they find a site they can use, they'll stop using Google to locate it.

The second point is more important. Google does much more than scrape the webpages on your site and calculate your pagerank. That's what happened before they were around and became obsolete soon after. A key part of the algorithm uses links into your site, which Google tried to avoid using in the calculation when you create them yourself. This tool seems to let you improve your score on the first (and less important) part of the process.

Re:Mixed Feelings (1)

IAmGarethAdams (990037) | more than 7 years ago | (#16519251)

This tool seems to let you improve your score on the first (and less important) part of the process.
No, this tool helps you pick the best wording/image/layout for AdWords landing pages - i.e. the specific pages you buy AdWords links to. It's unrelated to your search results

Re:Mixed Feelings (1)

suggsjc (726146) | more than 7 years ago | (#16515277)

You bring up a good/interesting dilemma/debate. What *should* matter the most? I know you may have just thrown that hypothetical situation together, but would imagine that it might have some connection to a personal experience.

Last I checked it ain't 1997 anymore and technology, especially web related technology, has changed a lot over the past 9 years. So to turn the tables on you, should site A continue to be rewarded for the service it produced way back when or should site B that is current, up-to-date, whatever be punished for simply being young?

I'm intentionally not going to put any thoughts as to which should "win" as I'll leave that to the rest of the /.'ers. I just wanted to point out the other side of your argument.

I bet your viewing this on NN4, aren't you...don't need/understand that high-fangled "tabbed-browsing" kids are using these day, huh?

Re:Mixed Feelings (1)

jimbojw (1010949) | more than 7 years ago | (#16515527)

> surely people will start producing sites that match exactly what it wants to see in order to get traffic

This already happens - in fact, there are companies that will help you do it (for a fee). Hittail [hittail.com] for one example.

I am serious... and don't call me Shirley.

Re:Mixed Feelings (1)

miklevin (979012) | more than 7 years ago | (#16518981)

> This already happens - in fact, there are companies that will help you do it (for a fee). Hittail for one example. There is no fee. Even after we are out of beta, basic usage will be free. The beauty is that you don't pay until the service has helped to make you successful and put you in a position to do so.

Re:Mixed Feelings (1)

Shaper_pmp (825142) | more than 7 years ago | (#16515807)

How did this get rated "+5, Insightful"?

First off, although it's called "Google Website Optimizer" it's about optimizing your website to get the highest number of orders ("conversions" in marketingspeak) from people who land on your site (eg, from an Adwords campaign), not about getting higher Google search rankings.

"If we look at why people creating websites usually want to get them to rank highly google the reasons are primarily monetary, which means that this tool is mainly giving advice to those who are trying to displace older (and possibly better sites)."

(-1 Baseless Overgeneralisation): Pretty much anyone who's running a website wants it to do well, and while many websites are run for-profit, not all (or even the majority) of them are.

I don't think I've ever heard a single webmaster turn around and say "y'know... we're getting too many damn visitors these days[1]. Oh how I pine for the days when we were ranked on the fourteenth page of results on Google and only got three visitors a week". Webmasters ideally want as many visitors as their servers and bandwidth-bill can handle. What's the point of shooting for less?

(-1 Complete Non-Sequiteur): Why should older sites be assumed to be better? And why shouldn't older sites also make use of Google Website Optimizer? Just because a domain has had a website on it for some time, that doesn't mean the site isn't constantly being redesigned, updated, streamlined and overhauled. Any webmaster who isn't constantly trying to improve his site frankly isn't doing his job.

GWO is basically a glorified A/B-Split Testing system, and we've had those for years.

Footnote:
[1] Slashdotting/Digging/Farking/Wanging aside, obviously.

"Say I have site A. which is dedicated to mountain biking news and has been running since 1997 with messageboards, news etc and hasn't been optimised for the best google rankings and we have Site B. which was created 3 months ago and uses RSS syndication to just serve up content from other sites and monetising it with something like adsense is the main point, then which should really rank higher in Google? I'm thinking A because it is more of a legitimate site."

Well, if Site A is inaccessible to mobile or disabled users, wastes bandwidth, uses tag-soup HTML, no CSS and is a complete bitch to navigate, then it's no surprise if a well-designed, navigable, accessible, optimised aggregation site overtakes it in the rankings.

If site A's webmaster has been sitting on his hands since 1997 then frankly he needs a kick up the arse to get his shit in gear and update the site to this century. Not everyone is a white, middle-class, fully-able and sitting in front of a desktop PC, and that's only going to get more true as time goes on.

HTML validation and the like aren't just shiny things to boast about on your homepage - they're supposed to be a measure of your professionalism as a webmaster. If you don't care about the things people use to assess your professionalism, don't complain when people assume you (or your site) are unprofessional.

In an ideal world Site A would still rank higher than Site B. However, in an idea world webmasters would do everything they could to ensure the site was modern, accessible and well-designed. And with code, navigation model and HTML/CSS validity all being equal, the site with the best content (Site A) will win every time.

In this less-than-ideal world, too many webmasters just sit on their arses and bitch instead of doing their jobs and keeping their sites well-designed and with fresh content.

"I think there is a point where trying to rank highly in Google is OK for wanting to growth in your site, but if Google continue to give out such tools then surely people will start producing sites that match exactly what it wants to see in order to get traffic."

You seem to be putting the cart before the horse.

Google doesn't decide what makes a good site, then announce it to the world. Google tries to work out what makes a good site from the good sites already out there, and uses this knowledge to find other good sites.

Way back when (a few years ago), Google was doing everything they could to deny information to webmasters, precisely because they were worried about people gaming the system. The upshot was that the only people who had any idea how to game the system were full-time blackhat SEO scumbags, who then pushed crap spam sites to the top of as many search results pages as they could.

More recently, in an effort to give "normal" webmasters more chance Google has started being more forthcoming about what gets good rankings. And you know what? It's just a laundry list of "what makes a good website":
  • Semantic HTML and CSS (clean, maintainable, future-proof design)
  • High keyword density (but not too high, or it'll suspect you of spamming and it'll hurt your rankings)
  • Standards-complient code (no more shitty "javascript:" URLs)
  • Good linking/navigation structure (easy-to-understand, easy-to-navigate sites)
  • Lots of inbound links (people like your site), especially from other high-ranking sites (the more "respected" a site is, the more a vote from it is trusted


"I'm starting to think that it shouldn't be sites that have to be optimised for Google to rank them highly, but Google to be optimised to pick up the best sites for each search term instead of landing pages or shells that are just there for advertising revenue."

Your criticism betrays a complete lack of understanding of the subject - this is all search engines have ever tried to do.

What you're seeing is the obvious and nautral adaptation to it by SEOers - if only well-designed sites get good rankings, then of course people chasing good rankings are going to offer well-designed sites.

Until GoogleBot can parse natural language prose, and even freaking empathise with what browsers want, they'll have to choose some set of simplified metrics to rate sites on.

They've chosen the set of metrics that most closely represents "a well-designed, well-maintained, regularly-updated, popular website" with today's available technology.

If Adsense-spammers put more work into their sites than you do, don't be surprised if they rank higher. It's because (apart from things like "informativeness" which it's currently impossible to measure objectively), their site is better than yours.

In other news... (5, Funny)

noname4444 (972861) | more than 7 years ago | (#16514609)

Google's new website optimizer suddenly quits after being run against MySpace [myspace.com] . It's been reported the optimizer was later heard weeping, as well as muttering "the horror."

Re:In other news... (2, Funny)

Hillgiant (916436) | more than 7 years ago | (#16516681)

I believe an optimized MySpace would look something like:

<html></html>

Re:In other news... (1)

Bugs42 (788576) | more than 7 years ago | (#16523625)

Close, but remember we're in the Web 2.0 age, so it'd have to be xml instead.

If google really want to optimize things.. (3, Insightful)

Channard (693317) | more than 7 years ago | (#16514627)

.. how about they send some kind of robot around their search listings, to delist any page that is little more links to another page. I've been looking for something and found links to a site that's basically links, which links to another site made up of links etc..

Re:If google really want to optimize things.. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16515263)

Why don't they also fix their caching policy,
when you set a page to "noindex" in the metatags
google does not display a index or cache of the page
(which is what it should do).

After a few months though, if you change the content
of the webpage and remove the "noindex" metatag,
it magically displays the cache of the page you told
it to not index!! (what it shouldn't do)

Similiar problems occur when telling the robot to
"noarchive" (index page but do not cache)

So basically google saves the page when you told it
not to save the page. It just hides the page from listing
when it is active. If that is not evil, I don't
know what is. AFAIK search engines should abide to
spider/robot etiquette. Google doesn't.

Alexa Internet Archive has similiar behaviour!

GA heat maps? (1)

gilgongo (57446) | more than 7 years ago | (#16514667)

Since when did Google Analytics have heat maps?

Why doesn't google... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16514819)

... buy the website optimizer? (idea)

COMPUTER NERD Mentality (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16514901)

:: First post!! Yeah, chick magnet, baby! The gals just dig guys who come first. == NERD MENTALITY

Is it just me, or does Slashdot get more and more stupid as time passes?

Out of curiousity I signed up (1)

dbmasters (796248) | more than 7 years ago | (#16515217)

I got a bogus AdWords account, just never added billing info. I have considered trying AdWords and paying for it with my AdSense money, they should have that as a payment option, to just take it from AdSense... For web site analysis I use WebCEO anyway, but I can't help but want to check out a new tool, overall, I love the direction Google is going, I use Google Office, just used their photo album thing to show friends vacation pics, use analytics for traffic analysis...it's cool stuff.

Gee, thanks a whole hell of a lot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16515227)

Because the OP has given us exactly crap for information, I now have the Heat Miser song stuck in my head.

I'm Mister Heat Miser, I'm Mr. Suuuun...

Perhaps they should optimize their service? (1)

dk90406 (797452) | more than 7 years ago | (#16515287)

From my firefox browser, after clicking on the demo, I was unable to open the "Sample reports" and "Documentation" links.
Closing the "demo" tab allowed one of the other links to be opened.
Is this optimal design?

... but what is it (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16515725)

> ..but what is it?

Classic "look at the monkey tactics" making you believe you get your money's worth from Adwords - very rarely true in my experience. What they really need is a means of stopping fraudulent clicks by 'Google Network' advertisers.

It's for marketer's landing pages (3, Informative)

1sockchuck (826398) | more than 7 years ago | (#16515785)

This tool is most helpful for companies who buy a lot of AdWords and route the the clicks to optimized "landing pages" that present a focused marketing pitch. From what I've seen, the Optimizer's real value is to help these AdWords buyers figure out which of their landing pages is producing the best performance in routing readers to their product pages. Getting that kind of data in a quick, user-friendly fashion will have value to these folks.

the Real website optimizer (2, Insightful)

a.d.trick (894813) | more than 7 years ago | (#16515911)

And the winner is: w3.org [w3.org] . The CSS section [w3.org] is probably the most useful part of it, but the whole thing is heartily recommended. To test you level of optimization there is an automated tool for HTML markup [w3.org] as well as one for CSS [w3.org] .

Maybe it's a UK thing.... (3, Funny)

Argentice (946799) | more than 7 years ago | (#16515991)

But I spat out my coffee when it said "Make this bike yours" with a picture of a woman...

Google Launches Website Optimizer (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16525207)

Google will soon be more of a problem to web users than help. Here is how my bitter taste with Google became sour. We share a computer at home and my sister and parents do not change the settings (on shared PC) much. While I enabled Javascript the other day, she had to call me on cellphone at work since no web pages were loading (mozilla). I drove back and did a check. Something to do with google syndication or analytics. This machine is clean of spyware. So I reset the browser and all was okay again. The Telcos were right. AT&T was right demanding that Google pay for bandwidth. I thought AT&T was playing politics demanding fees from google. I have since changed my opinion. Google will make the net crawl.
Check for New Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...