3 Steps to Simple A/B Testing With Google Analytics

Don’t want to spend a fortune on A/B testing software? Don’t want the bloat that comes with free tools? We understand because those were some of the problems we didn’t want to deal with when it came to A/B testing.

Our team needed to create a simple split test. To avoid paying a hefty cost for software or using free plugins that would weigh down our site, I decided to get creative with Google Analytics. My method is based off form submissions by simply tracking a button click as an event in Google Analytics. With some basic development knowledge, this can be set up reasonably quickly. Let’s dive in.

3 Step A/B Testing in Google Analytics

Step 1: Create The Template

We use WordPress for our website, but creating a template can be done in other content management systems too. Based on our CMS, this is the code we used:

Keep in mind this is just an example. It’s not very dynamic and can easily be modified to be re-used more dynamically.

As you can see in the code, I gave each button a 50% chance of showing up. One tracks “A” and the other tracks “B.” For WordPress, this is all you need. Again, this is a fundamental and simple example. In our real-world test, we are swapping out two different contact form layouts.

Note: Depending on what Google Analytics script you are using, the code may vary. The “gtag();” could be “ga();” or “__ga();”, etc. Make sure you know which syntax goes with the analytics script you are loading.

Step 2: Setup the goal in Google Analytics

Now we need to set up two different goals in the admin section of Google Analytics, one for A and one for B.

While on the main dashboard follow these steps:

  1. Click the Admin cogwheel
  2. On the right-hand side click the Goals link.
  3. Click New Goal
  4. Select Custom Goal → Continue
  5. Name the goal, make sure to include A or B in the description.
  6. Select Event → Continue
  7. Category, Action, Label, Value. These are all the options we put into the code in the button. Category and Action are the only mandatory items.
  8. Click save.
  9. Repeat steps for the “B” button.

Step 3: Test to make sure it’s working properly.

Note: The event can take 24-48 hours to show in your reporting. However, it will show in real-time under the real-time tab: Events & Conversions. Also, make sure if your IP is blocked that you are doing this from a different IP address.

To test, just load up the webpage and test the action. In our case, we would click a button. Reload the page and do this a few times and watch the events come in.

Simple AB Testing Google Analytics Dashboard


As you can see, I clicked the “B” button seven times and the “A” button five times to make sure it was working properly. That’s all it takes to get a simple A/B test up and running.

Try it our for yourself and, if you have any questions, drop a comment below to discuss. Good luck!

Eric Franklin

Written by:

Eric’s passion for technology translates into work that he loves. With an eye-for-detail and strong tech skill, Eric helps perfect the functionality behind each client’s website.

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