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A/B Testing: Good for SEO?

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A/B Testing: Good for SEO?

Google’s ranking algorithm is becoming more complex by the day, it has become unpredictable. It is now nearly impossible to know in advance, how to make changes in a website that can affect our search engine ranking until it goes online. Marketers today, cannot guarantee that the change would be beneficial for the business, in fact, there are fair chances that the change backfires. So, what can be a better way of knowing the future of change that we make to our website? How to find out what Google wants from our site? The answer is - A/B testing. A/B testing is a method of comparing two versions (A and B) of a webpage to determine which one performs better and improve conversion rates. Running A/B tests can show you the difference between present version and variation; against traffic and user experience. Without A/B testing, you cannot know what works best for your audiences. It can shift business conversations from “we think” to “we know”.


Benefits of A/B testing

  1. It can save you from bad decisions. Many times in business, when an idea appears very good and you hope a lot of it, after implementation, it turns out to be a complete dud. Testing before actual implementation can do you a big favor and you can be saved from the possible damage.


  1. It can tell you the areas of improvement. The A/B test results can show you which are your weak points and where you need to work more for a successful website.


  1. It can increase the conversion rates. If your changes are successful, you will get more visits and more conversions. Thus, testing can actually help in increasing the volume of traffic you receive at your website. One important thing to remember- during these A/B tests, it is assumed that the traffic does not change. Website is getting same traffic as before, just divided into two groups. The increase in conversion rates; is after the implementation of best design, not during the test.


  1. It can help you understand your audiences better. Through A/B testing, you can know what your audiences want, you can get an insight of their mind. It can help you in building a better relationship with your customers. A/B tests are done against the preferences of your audiences, thus, you can have happy satisfied customers.


  1. It gives you courage to test out even dumbest ideas of yours. Sometimes, we have some ideas, but we fear to implement it; what if it does not work. Many great ideas are sacrificed because of the thought; “what if?”. A/B tests give you the courage to try out these ideas, as they are just an experiment and nothing is permanent, who knows your dumbest idea becomes your best.

A/B testing for SEO

As we have already mentioned, A/B testing can be executed through a software to increase the click through rates, it is called conversion rate optimization. We cannot actually test two versions of a same page in the real world for search engine optimization. The Google bots do not appreciate duplicate pages with nearly same content. So you cannot direct different group of audiences to two different versions of your web page. As per Best SEO Company in California, an SEO friendly alternative to conventional A/B is; you create two group of pages. Make changes to individual pages and divide them into two groups; control and variant. Run tests across the pages and identify the group that performs better.


SEO A/B testing is not an easy task. Since both the groups are not statistically identical, so it is even harder to measure their performances. Anyhow, the group of pages that beat the other with a significant amount should be implemented. Focus on the term ‘significant’ we used here because SEO does not completely depend on the website changes, it depends on Google algorithm update and current trends.


Google’s guide to A/B testing


Google is not against A/B testing, in fact, testing does not affect your rankings. But it is against some tactics that businesses employ to fool Google bots. Some of the Google’s guidelines to perform authentic A/B tests are-


  • No Cloaking. Cloaking is a practice of showing Google bot a different page than what visitors are seeing. Google does not appreciate this, and even penalise websites for performing such practices.


  • Use rel="canonical". This help Google bots to identify the original version of the page, from many experimental versions.


  • Use 302 redirects. To redirect original URL to variation one use temporary 302 redirects instead of permanent 301 redirects.


  • Do not overdo the experiments. Do not run experiments for a longer period of time. When you have collected enough data regarding the variation page, stop A/B tests.


Facts against A/B testing

Everything seems good, then why not every website performs it. The fact behind is; it is not as easy as it appears. There are many software available in the market to perform A/B testing and analyse the result, still it is not so doable. It is somewhat hard to reach to conclusions, for example, it is hard to analyse the effect of change on the internal linking structure.


A/B testing gives us incredible visibility into the minds of our visitors and allows us to tune our website according to the preferences of our target audiences. Implement the page that you find more attractive and keep changing as per feedback of your audiences, because changes are the colors of life.

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