What is SEO A/B testing?

Feb 10, 2022

SEO a/b testing is a way to compare which approach you should take for your revised content marketing strategy. As your local Northwich SEO Agency, we can easily help to prepare SEO split testing for you.

From how to design your a/b split testing, to run the test, to analysing the results, we take an iterative process to provide you with the best SEO strategy forward.

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What is SEO a/b testing about?

The basic premise of this test, sometimes known as SEO split testing, is to produce similar content for your site, and see which one ends up performing better. The contents obviously cannot be identical, but the topics can be similar in nature.

Then you want to put a hypothesis forward. Your best option for simple SEO a/b testing is to see which layout works best. How the content is distributed, from where the images are placed, how the headers and subheaders are structured, and the amount of content on each page.

The design of the page in terms of formatting and colour are also relevant for this testing. Another example of SEO split testing is still to utilise the same content but focus on separate keyword parameters to see which one performs best in generating organic traffic.

Once you’ve decided on the hypothesis you want to test, it’s time to get the content launched and trackable. Don’t forget to have different types of CTA to track as well. Keep in mind with SEO split testing it’s very different from A/B user marketing testing.

With user marketing tests, there are multiple people that provide responses based on the different pages they see. With SEO a/b testing, there’s only one user, and it’s a robot. That means when you’re working with your Northwich SEO agency, and they tell you the content should be similar, it’s important that it can be on a similar topic.

However, it needs to be completely unique here, as there’s only one ‘user’ that will be looking at it. This means you need to produce twice the unique content.

What could hurt your site?

As reinforced above, you must conduct SEO split testing with zero duplication. Otherwise, the Google crawler will flag it and hurt your SEO as it does with all forms of duplication. Another thing to watch out for is how your CTA and other redirects are set up.

You should only have one redirect for all of your a/b split testings. Google is trying to index your pages, and it is trying to differentiate what your primary pages are, and if there are too many redirects, it will simply get confused and not be able to properly index your content while testing.

The final area to be concerned about is called cloaking. Although rare, it can still happen. It’s where the search engine sees something different from what users are seeing. This actually goes against some Google guidelines and can lead to a dead SEO content strategy.

That’s why it can be so important to work with your Northwich SEO agency. An agency can really help to avoid these issues while helping to conduct the testing.

What to watch out for

Keep in mind that for the testing to even be possible, a large amount of existing organic traffic needs to be in place already. That means if your site is only starting its journey into SEO and growing its traffic, you may get skewed unactionable results from this type of SEO a/b testing.

There are also some external factors that may be out of your control that you need to factor in. Your competitors are also probably updating their own sites, and seasonality can come into play.

Top all that with Google’s frequent updates on how its algorithm works, and you’ll need to consider running several tests periodically throughout the year. This way, you can start to define exactly how your content should be created and structured.

Don’t run your tests for too long either. Google recommends only a couple of weeks at most. If you already noticed a major significant change earlier, then end the test, and incorporate that information into your original page.

That’s why it goes back to why it’s so important to have large organic traffic for testing so that the a/b split testing can be conducted much faster.

Make sure to have control and a test,

Your control is your primary page, and you want that to be what Google finds. You also want to make sure you keep this original content and if there are changes to be made, you update the control page with the items from the test page.

That means from the beginning, you’re only going to keep that control page as that’s what will already be indexed by Google.

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