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April 11, 2007

Google’s Website Optimizer Not Optimal Product Naming

OnlineMediaDaily_Google.jpgAn excellent article by Mike Levin in Online Media Daily describes the frustration some users feel with Google’s new Website Optimizer tool which might not actually be a Website Optimizer at all. Instead, says Levine, “What Google's doing is called multivariate testing, or A/B switching.”

Levine’s carefully written article points out that Google is either naive or ignorant of the fact that by naming this new, important tool a Website Optimizer, admittedly a much more attractive sounding product name than, say, a "Multivariate Tester”, they are suggesting that this is a marketing tool. Instead, it is essentially a means through which Google ensures that users use AdWords to drive traffic to their site.

Site optimization, argues Levine, should actually give marketers far more flexibility.

Google_Website_Optimizer.jpgThis means Google is giving a new meaning to common terminology, and rewriting it in its own image and that of AdWords. Because Google’s products are becoming ubiquitous, it does seem that the entire definition of the name “Website Optimizer” is likely to change into the one that fits into Google’s “walled garden.”

It is distressing to see Google not resisting temptation here. Andrew Girdwood at e-Consultancy called it a stormy teacup yesterday, leading Ben Robison to declare that the product actually “conflicts at a very basic level with the things you should be doing for your long-term SEO.”

Google’s alliance with AdWords and AdBot leads to some embarrassing mistakes on another side of the Internet, notes Violet Blue at SF Blue. Essentially, some fairly tame words cannot be named on the conservative AdWords, inadvertently marginalizing transgender and fetish sites and searchers. There’s also concern over display ad placement of concurrent advertising campaigns that use similar names.

Google has numerous reasons to stick close to AdWords, many of them designed to protect the company from fraudsters. But introducing misnamed software that pushes Google customers into the same relationship is a different matter, and harder to support.

Google knows better.

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Posted by William Lozito at April 11, 2007 10:45 AM
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5 Comments

While I agree that the name is a bit misleading, I think it's fair to say that it is a marketing tool. A/B testing is a necessary part of a successful pay per click marketing campaign.

I suppose you are right, Bob, but using that logic one might also say that Microsoft Word and Outlook are also marketing tools--without them it would be hard to do many of the crucial tasks one must do in an ad agency.

The problem is that the average person who uses the product is attracted to it because he or she believes it will attract MORE traaffic to the site when, in fact, it streamlines that traffic to the point where it becomes selective.

The word "Optimizer" from the marketer's perspective means "it will get me the optimal amount of visitors (meaning, usually, more)." Google means that it will make your web site fit into the AdWords' definition of an Optimal Web Site--one that does not crowd others and only can be found using approved search words. For many people, that's not very optimal at all.

Yes, even as the writer of the original article, I totally see both sides. That's why I wrote it as fair and even as I could. None-the-less, specifically terming multivariate testing as "Website Optimizer" gives me the heebie jeebies.

Many marketers who "don't get" the whole life of a website will think their work optimizing a website is done once they instructed their people to use Google's tool by that same name.

Thanks for stopping by, Mike.

Good point.

Nice article, but I believe that Google selected the right name Google’s Website Optimizer. Optimizer is a great name for google's site tester when you consider their audience. The number of people and companies out there that truly understand Multivariate testing is a small percentage of the web world. Those who truly understand it and maximize to a full potential are more likely to use a specialized companys. The masses use Google analytics, and for someone new to optimization... Optimizer is much easier to grasp than Multivariate testing.

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