Does A/B Testing Impact SEO?
If you own a website, you’d know that getting your website to rank high on search results is crucial. You’d also know that catching your visitors’ attention and triggering conversions are essential. Many factors come into play in both these situations. But the primary focus revolves around three key areas - quality of content, speed of the website, and quality of the links.
Now here’s a common cause for concern: Will A/B testing, performed to improve conversion rates, impact SEO negatively? Can A/B testing and SEO co-exist happily?
The short answer is: Yes, they can!
“But how?”, you ask. By following some best practices.
Ensuring A/B Testing and SEO Coexist
Let’s begin with Google, the top search engine. Google doesn’t just tolerate A/B testing but actively encourages it. In fact, they offer their own A/B testing and experimentation solution, Google Optimize. In its guidelines on A/B testing, Google clarifies that if done correctly, A/B testing doesn’t affect SEO.
For instance, let’s say you’re experimenting with the color of a ‘Buy Now’ button on your webpage. Small changes like this can significantly impact users’ interactions but will typically have no effect on the page’s search result snippet or ranking.
Avoiding Issues With A/B Testing
But there are concerns around the concept of A/B testing resembling the practice of cloaking.
Cloaking is the practice of showing search engines a different version of a web page than the one presented to users, with the aim of deceiving the search engines. Rest assured, as long as your intention isn’t to deceive, A/B testing doesn’t qualify as cloaking.
The real challenge is balancing content duplication changes and SEO when conducting personalizations. But keep in mind, Google already has an indexed version of your static page. Plus, setting up redirects in your experiments correctly lets search engine bots understand what’s happening.
In other words, cloaking doesn’t exist as long as you aren’t intending to deceive search engines.
Balancing Speed With A/B Testing
Speed links directly to organic rankings and conversions. Unfortunately, running experiments can cause lags because a conversion rate optimization (CRO) tech stack can impact the loading of the page. CRO stack can include analytics tools, heatmapping/ user testing tools, and A/B testing tools.
However, note that most commercially available A/B testing tools optimize for speed using asynchronous loading, reducing their impact on site speed.
Here is a speed test performance of some of the A/B testing tools in the industry:
Remember to End Experiments
Whether or not experiments reach statistical significance, it’s vital to limit their duration and roll out the better-performing version quickly to keep your website optimized for SEO. And remember to treat Googlebot like any other user.
DO NOT block them from crawling or indexing your experiment versions; it could seem fishy if you do.
CRO and SEO - Same Same But Different
In some cases, the experiments you wish to run to optimize conversions might seem to threaten the SEO. For instance, you might want to experiment with short-form content on your homepage instead of the long-version SEO-optimized content currently in place.
But remember, good optimizers hypothesize experiments based on insights data points to. With a little creativity and collaboration, search and conversion optimizers can get the best of both disciplines.
So don’t shy away from experiments. They’re a part of your website’s growth journey. If they don’t work, revert to the original version. Google’s indexing process will pick this up, and with the reindexing, any dips in search traffic will normalize.
Now, if you’re new to the whole A/B testing scene or hesitant about managing the SEO implications, we have the solution that can help you - Mida A/B Testing. It’s an AI-powered A/B testing platform that automates testing, right up to 50k unique users, free of charge! Not only does it save you from the manual work involved in A/B testing, but it also ensures that your SEO remains intact.
Remember, the aim is not to choose between A/B testing and SEO but to create a balance between the two to supercharge your website’s performance and conversions simultaneously. Sound interesting? Try out Mida today!
Your website’s growth journey awaits. Happy optimizing!