SEO Split Tests – Crucial Mistakes to Avoid
The SEO landscape introduces new concepts and tools continuously! Since SEO is always changing, the latest tools and ideas aim to make SEO better. SEO split test is one such new concept, which is gradually becoming crucial for SEO professionals who want to focus on data. Previously, we have heard of A/B testing concerning CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization). Using and applying the same in SEO is practical if you want your SEO initiatives to generate more web traffic.
Understanding SEO split testing
It is essential to know about SEO split test before you decipher the mistakes associated with it. The obvious comparison point is CRO testing. So, when you conduct a CRO test, you usually compare a variant and control page version to check which one is best for conversion. For this, you assign the users to various buckets and show every bucket a different version of the site.
Going forward in an SEO split test, you have to ensure which page version will do better for procuring organic search traffic. Taking the CRO approach and bucketing users doesn’t work. It’s because there’s only a single Googlebot version, which only sees the one-page release. To get the job done, SEO split tests usually buckets pages. You can consider a website section where all the pages have the same template, and you add changes to most of the pages. This way, you can evaluate the impact that the change has on the traffic. An expert SEO agency or professional can help you with this. To know more, you can get in touch with Digital Rocket Fuel SEO Services.
Is SEO split test good for SEO?
It is one of the most common questions. SEO split test is suitable to your SEO, till such time you don’t commit the fatal mistakes. The mistakes you need to avoid are:
- Failing to set canonical URLs’ for the duplicate pages
Split testing works by developing two separate versions of one page which the users can see. The split testing software keeps track of the metrics like buys, click-throughs, and subscriptions for some time to decipher the page version that has a better conversion. The search engine might not understand the pages it should index and show in the search results. And when this takes place, all the split testing becomes useless. Hence, it is essential not to confuse the search engine. For this, you have to create a “Canonical URL” and use it for the two pages you are testing. It will alert the search engines on the viewable page version.
Typically, most SEO prefer to assign a control page as the canonical URL during this test. It might change the moment you choose the best page. However, it is always best to avoid any confusion.
- When it runs for a prolonged time
You shouldn’t run split tests for an extended time! When the search engine recognizes two similar looking pages in your website, existing for a long time, it might interpret it negatively. The search engine might think that you are trying to “game” for a place in the SERPs. It is essential to avoid this mistake. Make sure that you conduct the split tests for a short while. It’s a smart call to run the test until the time you attained a critical outcome and then halt. You don’t have to have the technical know-how for finding if the result is statistically relevant. A good quality split-test usually lets you know that.
- Blocking the search engine crawlers manually on a duplicate content
One of the best processes that stop this indexing is editing the robots.txt file of the page. Simply put, it is a file that gets loaded with any web page and directs the bots about how to treat the page. You can edit this file for blocking the crawlers in all the essential search engines. However, this process is not the best strategy to implement. First, it might tell the search engine that you have different content. Google recommends blocking the crawlers in the robots.txt file with a warning – that if the search engine isn’t able to crawl pages having duplicate content, they aren’t able to understand that even these URLs have similar content. Hence, these pages will get looked upon as unique and individual pages.
Secondly, almost anyone can have a look at the robots.txt file. And hence, other market players can use the same to check the pages are not getting indexed. And using this data, they can find out other pages that you want to test and then optimize their page. Avoiding this mistake is the best thing to do. So, you can drop the idea of editing the robots.txt file. Instead, Google suggests that you could use canonical URL or a 302 redirect, for letting the crawlers know the way to treat same pages.
- Removing the “Losing” page after completing the test
The moment you’ve completed the split test and have a clear winner, it is natural to remove the page that didn’t work for you. It is essential to retain the page that poorly converts. There are two important reasons for it:
- First, removing these pages takes away important test information. The data reveal your mistakes that you can look at and learn from them.
- Second, the deleted pages might confuse both search engines and online users. Have you been conducting this test for some time? If yes, then the search engines can index the concerned pages. Deleting this doesn’t remove the page from search outcomes. Hence, there are chances that the users might come across the page, click on it, and get a 404 error instead.
It natural that you wish to showcase the page that converts better. You can do this in the following ways:
- Opt-in for a split-test program which can archive the test pages. For instance, the Visual Website Optimizer can help you with this.
- A 301 redirect for the low-quality page to the improved one
These are the four crucial mistakes that you shouldn’t be committing during a split test. The object of SEO tools and concepts is to ensure better SEO results. Get in touch with an ace SEO agency or professional to get necessary guidance about conducting SEP split testing to derive the best results.