A/B Testing

Also known as split testing, A/B testing is used to describe a randomised experimental process where you show two or more versions of a variable, such as a web page or page element, to different website visitors simultaneously. This will enable you to determine which version is best in terms of conversion rate and user engagement.

To break it down simplistically, A/B testing will eliminate all of the guesswork when it comes to optimising your website for conversion rate and user engagement, enabling you to make business decisions based on data. It is one of the key elements of conversion rate optimisation in order to tackle the issue of a low conversion rate.

At a more advanced level A/B testing can be extended to more than just 2 alternative versions – known as A/B/n testing it can use multiple version simultaneously – but let’s just take a look at the simplest type of testing.

What are the benefits of A/B testing?

There are many benefits associated with A/B testing, including the following:

  • Boost user engagement – Elements of an email, ad, app, or web page can be A/B tested, such as your CTAs (calls-to-action), imagery, subject line, language, colours, fonts, etc. Testing one change at a time will show which changes have the most positive impact.
  • Increase your conversion rates – Split testing is one of the most effective yet straightforward ways of figuring out the best content for converting visits into purchases and sign-ups. Knowing what does and does not work will help you to convert more leads.
  • Reduce bounce rates – A/B testing will help you understand what elements will keep your visitors on your app or website for longer. The more time someone spends on your website, the more likely they will be to discover your content’s value, ultimately resulting in what you want from them – a conversion.
  • Better content – You can test ad content to remove the use of inefficient language and ensure the final versions are as effective as possible.
  • Lower shopping cart abandonment – Shopping cart abandonment is a real issue for many businesses today. If you find that people are adding items to their basket but are not completing the purchase, A/B testing can help you determine why this is happening. Then, you can take the appropriate steps to resolve the issue.

You need to consider SEO when doing an A/B test

It is vital to consider the impact of A/B testing on your organic search rankings. If you do not do this, you could have a detrimental impact on your website’s visibility.

It is important to note that Google encourages A/B testing when it is geared toward enhancing the user experience your website provides. In fact, Google has developed an A/B testing tool that makes the most of JavaScript to manipulate the Document Object Model and generate page variations.

At the same time, Google has also provided us with some information regarding the rules you need to adhere to during testing. The chief rule here concerns opening your A/B test to the search engine robots, who are required to navigate the same version of your web pages as your visitors.

Therefore, one of the best practices for search engine optimisation is to make sure you do not exclude Google’s bots from your A/B testing. Even if your A/B testing approach provides some advanced user-targeting features, for instance, user-agent detection, you should not use them to exclude Google bots.

Aside from this, it is advisable that you do not display pages that are too different from each other to your users. There are several reasons why this is the case. Firstly, it will make it much more challenging to determine what elements have had the biggest impact on your conversion rate. Additionally, Google may view the two versions as entirely different, so they may assume that you are making an effort to manipulate your search engine ranking. This could result in your website being penalised or even removed from the search engine results pages altogether.

Applying a JavaScript overlay

The application of a JavaScript overlay is the most common way of conducting an A/B test. This approach will not harm your search engine optimisation efforts because Google can understand JavaScript code.

Also, make sure the experiment only runs for as long as needed to assess which version is best for conversion rate and user engagement. The JavaScript overlays should not hide or delete elements that are vital for your page’s ranking and enhance your site’s legitimacy in Google’s eyes, such as internal links and text areas.

A/B testing tips with URL redirects

When carrying out an A/B test with URL redirects, there are several steps you can take to lower risk and boost the effectiveness of your test. This includes the following:

  • Redirect visitors via a JavaScript redirection or 302 redirection
  • Put a canonical attribute on the variant page and set the value to the original page
  • Do not use your website’s robots.txt file to block Google’s bots
  • When you have completed a redirect test, the changes that have been shown to be useful must be put into production

Mobile SEO and A/B testing

It is only natural that you will want to test the mobile version of your website. After all, mobile searches is the most common way of accessing the internet today. In the past, Google’s ranking algorithm was mainly based on your site’s desktop version. However, they have now adopted a mobile-first approach.

Consequently, it is critically important to make sure you do not remove any elements that are crucial to SEO from your mobile navigation.

Final words on A/B testing

Hopefully now, we’ve given you everything you need to know about A/B testing and how it works. We hope that the information we have provided you with above has given you a better understanding of split testing and how this works. After all, for your business to be a success, you need to understand how people are interacting with your online products so you can make the necessary improvements to your site and drive growth within your business.

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