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  • The ABCs of Creating An A/B Test With Google Content Experiments

    Thursday, April 21, 2016 by
    The ABCs of Creating An A/B Test With Google Content Experiments Which of these two calls-to-action would be more successful when placed on one of your website’s pages? “Want to learn more? Click here!” “Limited-time offer – click here now!” Think that’s an easy one to answer? Actually, it’s just a rhetorical question; there’s no correct answer. For example, a reader just being introduced to a product might respond better to the first option offering more information, while another who’s already been pre-sold might jump on the second choice. Different audiences will respond to content in very different ways. In fact, there’s no legitimate way to determine which one would be “more successful” until you define “success.” Is it total number of sales? Gross income? ROI? Size of the email list you’ve built? You have to specify the goal you’re trying to accomplish before you can judge “success.” Choosing between calls-to-action is difficult enough. It’s even harder when you’re trying to decide between two different versions of an entire page. That’s when A/B testing becomes imperative. And thankfully, Google Analytics now makes it easy to create an A/B test for your content, with Google Experiments.

    What Is A/B Testing?

    Even if you’re not familiar with the concept of A/B content testing, it’s simple to understand. Let’s say you’re considering changing one of your website’s pages (call it “content A”) and have written an alternate version of the page (call it “content B”) that you think might convert better with your visitors. If you show half of your traffic “content A” and half of your traffic “content B,” and then measure the results (remember, you need to define your goal in advance) – you’ll be able to tell which page works better and whether you should make a permanent change. You might think that anything that sounds so easy must be difficult or expensive to implement. It was, once upon a time, and there are still a number of complicated and costly in-house software programs you can use for A/B testing and much more sophisticated analysis. However, there are now a number of web-based solutions which will let you do A/B content experiments, from the inexpensive Optimizely (which has a simple-to-use WYSIWYG interface) to the well-known and much pricier KISSmetrics (which lets you dive deeply into a massive pool of data). For standard A/B content testing, though, you can’t beat the Experiments system that’s built into Google Analytics. That’s partly because it’s surprisingly full-featured, partly because it’s not too difficult to set up – and mostly because it’s absolutely free. Let’s look at how it works.

    How To Create an A/B Content Test With Google: The Preliminaries

    We’ll assume that you already have a Google Analytics account and that the code is installed on your website. If not, go ahead and set it up. We’ll wait. Welcome back! You probably think that we’re going to dive right into setting up an A/B content test, but that’s getting ahead of things; you wouldn’t pull out a recipe and start baking unless you knew you had all of the ingredients you needed on hand, and we’re going to do the same thing here: ingredients first. To start, make sure you have your “B content” – the page that you want to test against your current page – ready to go and posted on your website, with the URL readily available so you can cut and paste when you need it. (You can actually test up to twelve pages at one time in the Google Analytics Experiments tool, but for now, it’s easier to discuss A/B testing than A/B/C/D/E/F/G/H/I/J/K/L testing.) If you’re going to test click-thrus to another page, have that URL available as well. Next, decide exactly what you’ll be using as your criterion for success; most will want to maximize revenue or transactions, but some may want to track the time spent on the page, ad clicks, or another metric. It’s important to make this decision before setting up your test. Finally be sure that your Google Analytics tracking code is posted on both pages that you’ll be testing. How To Create an A/B Content Test With Google: The Experiment OK, let’s get started. Open your Analytics control panel, where you’ll select the “reporting” tab, then look in the left-side navigation bar for the “Behavior” section, and click on “Experiments” underneath it. Click the “START EXPERIMENTING” button on the next page, and you’re ready to set up your A/B test on the screen that opens. (If for some reason there’s already an experiment set up in your account, click on “Create experiment” to start a new test.) The “Create a new experiment” screen will open.
    1. Enter whatever name you’d like to use for the test in the “Name for this experiment” field; make it something unique that will be easy to recognize later because your test will be running for weeks or months, and you may want to create other experiments in the meantime.
    2. “Objective for this experiment” is the most difficult area of this screen. It’s where you’ll be identifying the criterion for success you decided upon in the last section. There will be existing choices in the “Select a metric” drop-down menu like Adsense (to measure impressions or clicks), Ecommerce (to measure revenue or transactions), and Site Usage (to measure metrics like time spent on site or average number of page views). If you want to use an Ecommerce metric, you’ll need to have Ecommerce reporting enabled in your main Analytics setting and the correct JavaScript added to your pages. You can get exact instructions about this in the Ecommerce section of your Analytics dashboard.
    You can also create your own goal, such as click-thrus to a new page or number of video views, by clicking “Create a new objective.” The easiest way to set this up is to select “custom” on the first page that comes up, enter a name for the goal and select its type (Destination, Duration, Pages or Event) on the second page, enter the relevant destination page or event (the one you have ready to cut and paste) and an optional monetary value per click or sale on the third page, then click “Save goal.” Click back to the “Objective for this experiment” page and you’re all set. Don’t worry, this is actually a lot easier than it might sound.
    1. The next choice on this screen is “Percentage of traffic to experiment.” This selects how much of the traffic to your site will see the original page and how many will see your “B content” page – but there’s one tricky thing to consider. With this drop-down, you’re choosing what percentage of visitors will be participating in the test, not how many visitors will see each version of the page. That means that if you choose 50%, you’re not deciding that 50% of visitors will see “A” and 50% will see “B.” You’re deciding that 50% will see “A” by default (the normal page they’d view) and 50% will be entered into the A/B experiment – so 75% of your visitors will end up seeing “A” (50% + 25%) and 25% will see “B.” Bear this in mind when making your selection.
    One other note: if your alternate page is very different than the original, you may want to limit the percentage of visitors participating in the experiment in order to minimize potential revenue or conversion losses. You can always increase the percentage in the middle of the experiment if things are going well.
    1. The “Email notification” choice is self-evident.
    1. “Advanced options” has one important selection you must make. Checking “Distribute traffic evenly across all variations” will ensure that each of your pages continues to receive an equal amount of test traffic. If it’s not enabled, Analytics will automatically start sending more traffic to the page that’s performing better. The former will give you a test that’s standardized across the testing period, while the latter will start maximizing performance as the test proceeds while still rendering accurate results. There are two other advanced options you can consider: “Set a minimum time the experiment will run” will prevent Google from naming a “winner” too soon, and “Set a confidence threshold” allows you to decide how decisive a measurement you want before Google declares one page better than the other.
    Allow yourself a sigh of relief. It now gets much easier. After you’ve saved your changes, the next screen is “Configure your experiment.” This is where you copy and paste the URLs for the “A content” and “B content” pages; click “Save Changes” and you’ll be shown the experiment code for the A/B test. Copy it and paste it onto the “A” page, right below the <head> tag near the top, then click “Save Changes” again. If you’ve done everything right, Google will validate the code and tell you that you’re all set – or if there’s a problem, you’ll be shown the errors which need to be corrected. In rare cases, Analytics won’t be able to find the code on a complicated page or a web server whose settings prevent it. If this happens and you’re sure you haven’t made any mistakes, don’t worry about the validation. Click “Start Experiment” and off you go. (You can also choose to “Save for later” if you’re thinking about making changes.)

    How To Create an A/B Content Test With Google: The Results

    Once everything is set up your A/B experiment will start right away, and after a day or two you’ll begin seeing results which can be viewed in your Experiments list. The main window will show the test’s status, major details and the number of visits the pages have received; if you click on the experiment’s name, you be taken to a more detailed window. There you can see a wealth of information in table and graph form, based on the goal you selected when the test was set up. This can include the percentage of users who accomplished the goal, and the numerical or monetary value of their goal completion, if applicable. You’ll be able to tell how well each page is doing, see comparisons between page performance, and even Google’s estimate of the probability that the new page will outperform the old one by the time testing is complete. If you allow the A/B test to run to its normal completion, you will see one of three possible status reports:
    1. Ended (Time limit reached), which means the experiment ran for three months (or the time period that you chose during set up) without a clear winner.
    2. Ended (No winner), which means there was no statistically significant difference between the performance of the two pages.
    3. Ended (Winner found), which we probably don’t have to explain. The winning page will be identified on the data page, along with all of the specifics.

    FAQ

    Here are a few frequently asked questions about the use of Google Experiments for A/B testing – and their answers. Q: Should I start making changes to my site if I see an early trend in my reports? A: No. It can take several weeks for traffic to stabilize and reliable trends to emerge; even if the numbers look overwhelming, Google won’t declare a winner for at least two weeks to allow data to stabilize. Q: Is it a good idea to test more than two pages at once? A: It can be, but bear in mind that additional variations will mean that a lot more traffic will be needed to draw reliable conclusions, since visitors will be divided between all of the tested pages. More traffic requires more time, so be prepared to wait longer for results. Q: Should I consider a “multi-armed bandit” experiment? A: For those who aren’t familiar with the term, it refers to the “Distribute traffic evenly across all variations” option discussed during the set up of your experiment. You’ll remember that if you don’t choose this option, Analytics will begin diverting more traffic to the better-performing page over time, which is known as the “multi-armed bandit” approach (named after a hypothetical slot machine experiment). While this may seem counter-intuitive to proper testing procedures, there are advanced mathematical models showing that this approach is not only statistically accurate but more efficient, so you get results more quickly while maximizing performance. If you trust the science more than your gut, it’s a good alternative. Q: Should I run more than one experiment at the same time? A: As we’ve mentioned you can up to twelve concurrently, but be aware that as you run more and more tests, they can start interacting and produce results which are difficult to analyze. You can try it, but it’s safer to run just one or two at a time unless you’re sure they won’t conflict. Q: Can you run a Google Experiment with pages that serve dynamic content? A: Not if the content is served by means of permalink-type URLs. If the pages use query-string parameters, you should be OK.
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  • Uncle Carl Creates Blowerz As New Head of Product Development

    Friday, April 1, 2016 by
    HostGator  Blowerz Since we have introduced Uncle Carl to the world, he has become a smashing success. People have absolutely LOVED his unique inventions. For those that don't know Uncle Carl, he is the mastermind behind Waist Holders, Lady Fashion Wallets, Ear Bookz, and my personal favorite, Shabamazama. In fact, because we can't get enough of Uncle Carl's creativity, we have brought him on as HostGator's Head of Product Development! Uncle Carl hit the ground running and has already introduced some revolutionary new ideas! Blowerz, his initial offering, is an ingenious invention that will help keep our servers cool and running at maximum efficiency. He's designed a couple of prototypes thus far. The first was a setup of straws throughout the facility that cousin Jerry would blow into. Unfortunately, this didn't keep the servers cool for long and cousin Jerry started to get light headed more or less right away. Turns out, this was an inefficient prototype. So now we're happy to introduce the new design! HostGator April Fools This state of the art contraption (as Carl calls it) will reverse the flow of a vacuum and push the air right through an industrial pipe system. Our servers will be cool in no time. Currently we are calling many manufacturers about creating this product and nobody seems to be interested in this yet. Uncle Carl believes they just can't understand the nature of the system. However, Uncle Carl is optimistic in his efforts and we fully support his enthusiasm. We will have blowers on the back of all servers by the end of this year! Oh by the way, APRIL FOOLS!
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  • Why Half Of All Small Businesses Missed Out On Over $250 Billion In 2015

    Tuesday, January 26, 2016 by
    Small Businesses Missed Out on $250 Billion in 2015 - Here's How There are over 28 million small businesses in America, accounting for 54% of all sales within the country. Yet more than half of them are missing out on billions of dollars, combined. If you have a small business, you know that every penny counts. Wouldn’t you do anything within reason to get yourself a leg up on your competition? If at least half of small businesses aren’t doing this one simple thing, then you have a solid chance of bringing in more sales than your competitor down the street, simply by doing it. This one thing brought in over $250 Billion (in the first 3 quarters of 2015 alone). If you don’t have it, then you’re clearly missing out. What is that one thing? Having a website. Simple, right? Well yes and no. That dollar amount quoted above was just for ecommerce sales within the United States. So if your business isn’t online in some manner, then yes - you missed out on your slice of that pie. Think about how much time you spend online (you’re reading this article online, for example). You’re likely on some form of social media for hours each day; maybe even doing some of your own shopping online. Point being that you’re online already, so why not spend a small portion of that time getting your business online? With a website, you’d likely be able to grab a share of all that money spent online last year. And while you could sell your stuff through eBay, Etsy, or the like, it doesn’t provide you the chance to really create your own brand on the web. You may not become the next Amazon, but if you could just bring in a few more sales, then why wouldn’t you at least try it? Now, you may be saying that you’ve thought about having your own website before, but it’s just too hard or too expensive. And that may have been true - in the 90s. But with today’s technologies, you could actually have a website online within the hour and for only a few bucks. It’s true. Conversely, you may think that a Facebook page alone may suffice, or Yelp, Twitter, or whatever other free online service of choice. While that may be a great start for your online presence, it shouldn’t be the pillar of it. What if the platform were to vanish tomorrow? Or your page gets removed for breaking some random clause in the terms of service? Having your own website allows you to actually own your piece of the web. If you’re bringing people to your Facebook page, you’re essentially building Facebook more for them. You can’t really do much with that audience outside of that platform. On the other hand, if you attract that traffic to your own website, you have their attention on something you own. Plus, if you’re interested in any online marketing, it looks a lot better to send them to your own site versus a Yelp page. At HostGator, you could get started for just $5.56* per month. With that, you receive everything you need to claim your spot of the Internet. Without boring you too much, here are some of the features you’d get when signing up with HostGator.
    • Domain Name - A domain name is essentially the virtual sign for your website. It tells people who you are and how to access you. We’ve got some tips on choosing a good domain that can help you come up with ideas.
    • Website Hosting - Your website needs to live somewhere on the web. Just like you need somewhere for your customers to come to your store. Hosting is the space you’re renting online at which your website will live.
    • Website Building Software - If you can use social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest) then you can build a website with our website builder. It’s a drag and drop tool that you use to design and publish your website. If you need a little more functionality, then you can install WordPress (used by 23% of the top 10 million websites) with one click and customize it as much as you’d like.
    • Customized Emails - If people are contacting your or your business, what do you think looks more professional? myemail@gmail.com or myemail@mybusinesssite.com? With customized emails, you can create any email address under your domain name (sales@mybusinesssite.com, for example).
    • $200 in Advertising Credit - You need to get people to your website. If you’re just starting out online, then people won’t know to find you immediately. To help you with this, HostGator provides $100 in Google Adwords and $100 in Yahoo!/Bing credit.
    • Helpful Support - You’re not alone when it comes to your website. Our staff is here 24/7 to help you. If you have questions about signup, or even if it’s 2 am and accidentally cause an error on your site, we’re here to take care of it. Don’t believe us? Give us a call right now to see if we pick up. 1-866-96-GATOR. We can even walk you through signup and familiarize you with any of the tools necessary to build your site.
      If you still think that creating your own website is hard, then why not let us do it for you? If you’re serious about your business but don’t have the time to learn about building a website, then we can do it for you. We have a team of expert web designers on staff.. Give us a call and ask to speak to our sales team. They’ll get you on the path to getting the website you want so that you can grab your piece of the online sales pie. Make sure you tell them Kyler sent you and they’ll take care of you.

    Get Your Business Website Click To Get Your Business Online

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  • Introducing Cloud Hosting from HostGator

    Wednesday, January 13, 2016 by
    cloud hosting Here at HostGator, the word “unlimited” just expanded in scope. In keeping with our goal to always provide the best service and products in the industry, it is with great pleasure that we now introduce our new cloud hosting platform. We are able to offer our customers increased reliability, scalability and performance while still giving them full access to the cPanel features they know and love, in the cloud! Built on pooled compute and storage resources with features that allow us to respond quickly and easily to any hardware issues that arise, our cloud platform also includes a fully-redundant storage array with three copies of your data mirrored to ensure optimum data integrity. Our new cloud platform natively integrates automatic caching of static content to ensure lightning-fast page load speeds. If more compute resources are needed to serve up the dynamic content, a click of a button can scale up to 8 cores and 8GB RAM via the Server Performance Dashboard. This is up to 4x more than what some competitors offers. In addition, customers now have access to an Intuitive Performance Dashboard which provides real time metrics on page download speed, server uptime, visitor information, and resource utilization.
    HostGator Cloud SitesCloud Sites At HostGator.com
      Enjoy easy resource scaling with the click of a button: Scaling Resources at HostGator   Our new cloud packages include all of the features of our classic Baby, Hatchling and Business plans, with the additional benefits outlined above. Transferring from Shared to Cloud is a snap; simply contact our team to assist with the transfer after the order is purchased. Ready to launch your site in the cloud? Learn more about the individual cloud hosting plans below:  

    Hatchling Cloud

    Allows you to host a single domain, while maintaining the unlimited sub and park domain capabilities enjoyed by the classed Shared Hatchling. Dual core CPU unit and 2 GB of RAM are available, with unmetered bandwidth and unmetered storage.

    Baby Cloud

    Hosting for unlimited domains, along with an increase in CPU (up to quad core), and 4 GB of RAM. Bandwidth and storage are both unmetered.

    Business Cloud

    Maintains the unlimited domains, addon domains and parked domains, while increasing the CPU up to 6 cores, with 6 GB of RAM. A private SSL is also included for eCommerce purposes. All of the plans include fully integrated local caching. We're very pleased to be launching your websites into the cloud! If you have any questions about the new product, please feel free to contact us at any time.

    Get Started in the Cloud!

  • Snappy is Turning 13 Years Old!

    Tuesday, October 20, 2015 by
    HostGator's 13th Birthday Celebration Snappy is officially a teenager! Our beloved gator is growing up so quickly. Many companies have entered our industry and only a few can say that they've been in business for 10+ year. We are excited to be able to celebrate our 13th year and it's all because of our AMAZING customers. Without you, none of this would be possible. So we want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts. In recognition of this big day, we're offering 50% OFF* all new hosting plans. Current customers can also take advantage of this deal by getting a new package as well. This could be your chance to upgrade to a new server type that you've been waiting for. Please check out our Sale FAQ to answer any questions you may have. For the first time ever... Most of the international HostGator brands will be celebrating with their own special offers, and you're invited to check them out: HostGator Brazil HostGator Mexico HostGator India Help us wish Snappy a very happy birthday, and launch your new website in celebration  

    Sign Up With HostGator!

    Offer ends October 22nd at 11:59PM CST Terms and conditions vary between sites. Please check them in the individual locations.
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