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Three Things To Keep In Mind When A/B Testing For SEO

CEO & Founder of Triton Commerce, passionate about equipping businesses with innovative, digital marketing solutions for optimal growth. 

It can be incredibly frustrating not knowing why your website is underperforming. You did the keyword research and implemented all the best practices, yet your website isn’t producing the results you anticipated. 

Unfortunately, even the most well-versed SEO experts don’t know everything about search engine algorithms and optimization. That’s where A/B testing for SEO comes in handy.

Instead of investing a lot of time and money into a complete redesign, A/B testing (otherwise known as “split testing”) is an excellent way to make low-risk modifications that could incrementally improve your site’s overall performance. A/B testing is a term used to describe an experiment where you take the original webpage, which acts as a control, and test a hypothesis with a variant of the exact same page. 

Use Best A/B Testing Practices

While it’s probably been ages since your last science class, recall the basics of the scientific method. This is an excellent baseline for outlining how to conduct A/B testing for SEO. 

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1. Identify the problem (mediocre rankings, high bounce rate, etc.).

2. Develop a hypothesis backed by solid research. 

3. Test your hypothesis.

4. Note conclusions and make decisions according to your findings. 

Whether you’re not ranking for your identified keywords or you’re concerned about your site’s bounce rate, refining an A/B testing strategy is a great way to collect data and determine what practices ultimately work best for your website. 

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you kickstart your experiment.

1. Research, Research, Research

While it might be tempting to go the “trial by fire” route and create A/B tests based on personal opinion or assumptions, there’s a better chance of drawing conclusive results if you base your hypothesis on thorough research. 

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Be sure you’re keeping track of Google’s latest algorithm updates and that you’re reading the most recent SEO findings. Once you have done the research and identified the web page you’d like to test a hypothesis, you’re ready to A/B test.  

2. Minor, Trackable Changes

Another temptation might be to change several things in a variable. The problem with too many changes is that you’ll never know what actually made the difference at the end of your experiment. It’s better to make minor, trackable changes. 

For example, your variable could be as straightforward as moving the contact form for mobile users. Depending on the tools you’re using and how much organic traffic your site encounters, you can always run more than one variable at a time. 

3. A/B Testing Tools And Proper Data Documentation

Google Optimize is a great A/B testing tool for straightforward experiments as you can link your Google Analytics account, which helps with data collection. This resource will allow both the control and the variant to run simultaneously, splitting evenly between those who traffic your website — plus, it’s free! 

It’s good to keep in mind that Google Optimize may not garner the best results if your site doesn’t get a lot of organic search traffic. Other A/B Testing tools may allow you to conduct more in-depth A/B testing and analyses for varying costs. 

Really, it all comes down to what best fits your needs and goals. In some cases, you could go “old school” and run an A/B test live on your website by establishing strict timelines for collecting data. Make sure you take the same amount of time to gather data on your control and each variant. This method requires you to be much more vigilant with collecting and recording data, but it also gives you the freedom to use your own keyword tracking software to see how each variation affects your website’s rankings. 

Last, but certainly not least, be sure to take meticulous notes on everything you’re testing so that you have ample data with which to make decisions. 

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A/B Testing In SEO: Doesn’t Conjure One-Fix-All Solutions

A positive finding via A/B testing for one website or page does not necessarily mean applying that change across everything will garner exemplary results. Refining your SEO strategy can be a fickle and tiring process. However, using best practices and maintaining a scientific approach will help you glean results and cultivate conclusions you could never have before executing your A/B testing strategy.

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