AB testing best practices – A tool to build effective marketing strategies

By EB

AB testing let individuals and businesses to test and change their marketing elements, to increase the conversions carefully. You can use AB testing to compare two versions of marketing elements to see what works better.

Here we are going to discuss what is AB testing, how to perform AB testing, and how not to damage your SEO by doing an AB testing.

This article about AB testing has three major topics; you can click on below topics to jump to that particular section.

What is AB testing in digital marketing?

How do you perform an AB test?

Can AB testing harm your site SEO?

What is AB testing in digital marketing?

AB testing is an experimental method to compare two versions of a marketing element or a strategy to find out which performs better. This can be anything from a webpage design, ad copy, to even a sales email.

How can AB testing help you to build effective marketing strategies?

Sticking to your textbook digital marketing strategies won’t help you to make more sales. You just need to keep experimenting with your marketing strategies to see what works and what does not. And, you can use AB testing to measure and analyze the effectiveness of the changes in your marketing strategies.

For example, maybe changing the color of your website’s call-to-action button can increase your conversion rate. Or, changing the copy of your default email can help you to increase the signup rate. How can you be sure? The answer is to do experiments and doing AB testing to measure effectiveness.

AB testing is widely used by marketers and developers to test new features and do changes in their strategies.

How do you perform an AB testing?

Here is how you can perform an AB test.

  • Step 1 – Plan your AB testing: First you need to pick the feature that you need to test. This can be an on-site feature, like a call-to-action button. Or, this can be an off-site feature, as an ad copy. If you just starting with AB testing, try to start with a high traffic area. So, you can collect data faster.
  • Step 2 – Identify the variables for the AB test: There can be multiple variables for a single feature. For example, if you test an ad copy, the headline, call-to-action, graphics, and sales text can be your variables. So, you can keep one ad copy as the control, and plan multiple AB tests to check the effectiveness of different variables.
  • Step 3 – Pick a timeframe: Usually, it is better to run all your tests simultaneously. So, you can avoid the effect of timing. The usual practice is to split your traffic for different tests. For example, if you are doing an AB test for a sales email, randomly split your email list and do the tests simultaneously.
  • Step 4 – Run your AB tests: Now, it is time to start testing. Publish your test variants,  and measure the data. The measurements can be the amount of traffic, engagement, bounce rate, sign-ups or sales. Record data for different options. Also, keep in mind that sometimes you may need to run AB tests from a few days to one or two weeks to collect a sufficient amount of data. Fewer amounts of data may lead to incorrect results.
  • Step 5 – Analyze your AB test results: Just calculate the percentage difference of your conversions to see what works best. Then, you need to extend your analysis by taking the costs into account. Sometimes, you will have to spend a whole lot of money to achieve a 2% increase in conversions. So, get the results from your AB testing, and check that with the cost factor.

Can AB testing harm your site SEO?

Well, as you can understand, if you perform an AB testing on one of your website elements, you need to redirect traffic to different versions of the same webpage. And, this is against the basic rules of SEO practices that we know. So, can AB testing actually harm your site SEO?

Apparently, Google encourages us to do AB testing on websites, and they have given pretty clear guidelines to perform AB tests without harming the website’s SEO.

Here are some excerpts from Google’s guidelines for AB testing.

  • Avoid cloaking – Clocked content means, showing one set of content to humans and a different set to the Google bots. In early days, some people used to do clocking and stuff their content with keywords, which are only available for the Google bots. So, cloaking is against the Google webmaster guidelines, and do not use cloaking with your AB testing.
  • Use “canonical” links as the alternate URLs – Yes; you need to have multiple URLs to redirect your traffic to different versions of your website to do an AB testing. So, Google allows you to do this by using rel=”canonical” link attribute on your alternate URLs. This indicates that the original URL is the preferred version for your content. Otherwise, Google would treat your original webpage as duplicate content, and drop the ranking on their index.
  • Use 302 redirects. Not, 301 – 301 redirects are the permanent redirects for your URLs. 302 redirect is for the temporary redirects. This with make Google to keep your original URL in their index.
  • Don’t run the AB tests for an unnecessarily long time – The time you need to complete your AB test will depend on different factors. But, as soon as you finish your AB testing, update your site with the desired content, and remove all test elements as quickly as possible. Otherwise, Google will think that you are trying to do some black magic stuff, and take “actions.”

Now you know the best practices of doing an AB test

In this article, we have discussed how to do an AB test in the right way. We have also discussed how not to damage your SEO, with AB testing. I hope this gives you some useful insights. If yes, extend your courtesy by sharing this article.

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Featured image by macrovector on Freepik, and edited by the author.