Guide to AB SEO Testing
Curiosity, experimentation, and testing are at the core of marketing. Especially digital marketing, where not everything is always clearly and definitively defined. For example, AB SEO testing can tell you where to focus on when you want to improve your website conversion rates. What solutions to choose between numerous possible variations, and what options work for your website the best. However, in reality, AB SEO testing is much more complex than it may seem. If not appropriately conducted, it can give you misleading results, especially on large websites with immense potential for various mistakes. But, with a few guidelines, you can ensure quality results that will lead your SEO efforts in the right direction.
What is AB SEO testing, and how to do it?
When planning your website optimization, it’s necessary to understand the relationships and interactions between users and websites. This is where AB SEO testing can help by pointing out what users want and expect from your website, how they react in specific situations, and what actions they choose to do when given specific content. With accurate results from testing, you could find the right combination that offers the best user experience (UX), increases conversions, and improves your website’s traffic potential.
What is AB SEO testing?
In general, AB testing, also called split testing, is when you test simple changes on your website by comparing their performance with the performance of originals. Acquiring results may involve different segments of an audience that will give you opinions about which one is better. For example, which CTA button they like more.
The common use of AB testing is to test:
- Specific elements on the page
- Color combinations
- Textual messages
- Different changes not visible to users (metadata, for example), etc.
More specifically, AB SEO testing measures the broader impact the changes will have on your organic traffic and ranking positions.
Why do you need AB SEO tests?
Simply put, you need AB SEO testing to measure the success of specific SEO strategies. Because, in essence, you don’t want to focus on and invest in something that does not give the desired results. It’s also a crucial prerequisite to show you if the results justify any change. Overall, it’s a substitution for “trial and error” methods that could easily ruin your SEO efforts. With AB SEO testing, you can avoid the pitfalls of making changes that are potentially wrong moves.
However, SEO split-testing requires a lot of practice. If your team has resources to conduct them, you can use them to safeguard against any misguided changes. If not, investing in professional SEO assistance will be the preferred option. As the SEO experts at Movers Development suggest, nothing can beat professional help. There is a lot you can do yourself SEO-wise. But the damage you can do with a tiny mistake may require a tremendous amount of work to rectify. Therefore, it’s best to avoid making mistakes altogether.
With strong and continuous testing, you can:
- Save money and effort in long terms
- Prevent costly mistakes
- Avoid ruining your SEO efforts
- See what change works the best and what not
- Plan your resource allocation properly
- Gather plenty of valuable marketing data
- Increase your website traffic
- Improve conversion rates
- Reduce bounce rates
- Lower your cart abandonment rates
- Get a competitive advantage on the market and web
AB SEO testing obstacles
Google and other search engines are constantly changing their code and rules. They do this with major and minor updates to their algorithms, sometimes daily, making SEO quite tricky for marketers and website owners. All of this makes testing a necessary part of the website SEO management process. Something you will need to use a lot to avoid the disastrous fate of many unprepared websites.
Another part of the AB SEO testing difficulties is figuring out what Google bots find obtrusive: different methods not exactly approved by search engines. They don’t like cloaking, page duplication, inconsistent redirects, and more. Which, as a result, makes the testing process more complex by nature.
The way to make it simpler is to restrict the testing to a smaller subset of pages. This will mitigate the potential damage if it happens. It is also necessary to consider external factors that you don’t control but can affect your test groups.
How to create an SEO A/B test
Creation and conducting of AB SEO test consist of several steps:
- Creating a hypothesis
- Selecting a group of pages to test on
- Bucketing pages into control and variants
- Making the change
- Measuring the results
Setting a hypothesis
To successfully plan and start your testing, you need to set predictions. Consider the elements you want to change and their impact on SEO.
To make it simple, use the three-step formula:
- Define the change
- Decide on which pages the change will be conducted
- Hypothesize about what the effect of the change will be
For this, you will need similar content, like pages from the same online shop category. When making a hypothesis, don’t just go with random changes. Make an educated guess, considering content hierarchy, for example. Remember, search engines consider content higher on the page more important.
Estimate the test duration
AB SEO testing can take anywhere between a couple of days to a few months. In most cases, it depends on the number of testing pages and the amount of traffic your website has. The more pages and traffic, the more data will be collected. It’s a good situation from a testing perspective, but it can take time to analyze everything. One of the guidelines, however, can be the crawling speed of Google crawlers. After all, without them crawling the pages again, you won’t be able to get any meaningful results from testing.
Selecting the pages
With the scale and time of testing defined, it’s time to select pages. They have to be from the same group, for example, product pages on eCommerce websites. And all of them have to have decent traffic. Otherwise, you won’t learn anything from testing. For this, you can use Google Analytics to check their traffic.
Separating control and variant pages
This step, often referred to as bucketing, requires you to separate the control pages from variants. Take all your defined pages from the previous step and split them randomly and equally into two groups.
Much more convenient way to manage this process is to use SEO testing tools like:
- Google Optimize
- Google Analytics
- HubSpot testing software
- even Google Sheets can help you randomize your pages
One group will be your control group, while the other will be the variant group where you will conduct changes.
Make the change to variant group
This is the final step to the test, making changes to the variant group. But, do this by making one change at a time and measuring the results afterward. With multiple simultaneous changes, it can be exceptionally hard since the results might easily be misinterpreted. Keep the records and dates of every change and make sure you can reverse the change.
Measure the impact of the changes
After the testing is complete, you will have to see what the results of the change are. Again, testing tools are probably the best to use because they almost always give you visualized results, whether it’s a diagram, a graph, or other data visualization. Of course, you can do it manually, like checking rankings with Google Analytics, for example, but it might be an unnecessary waste of time.
As you can see, AB SEO testing is not quite simple. Considering all the factors you have to bear in mind for each step, it requires significant experience. But, the results and effects of successful changes will be incredibly beneficial. With proper AB SEO testing, you can increase your traffic, ranking positions, conversions and generally improve UX for all your future visitors.