There’s no innovation without experimentation. In today’s competitive online world, we need to be constantly innovative to stay ahead of the competition. Ensuring that your website is optimally functioning is extremely important. We need to test and re-test website pages and elements to obtain high yielding landing pages.
A/B Testing is a useful experimentation process of testing two variations of a web page (usually the main landing page and a variant), simultaneously. A similar set of visitors see the two versions of the web page for the same period, and the one that results in a higher conversion rate emerges the winner!
What can you A/B Test?
You can A/B test any element on your website that can affect your visitors’ site experience.
- Main headlines
- Paragraph copy
- The sales copy or product descriptions.
- Call to Action text
- Call to Action Button
- Links and links text
- Images or any graphic you use in association to your sales efforts.
- Content near the fold
- Social proof & testimonials
- Media mentions
- Awards and badges
Benefits of A/B Testing
- Lowers risks – Making any major update or revamp to your website can result in considerable costs. A/B Testing eliminates the risk involved in hypothesizing, by actually testing results. The results help to make well-informed, data-driven & cost-effective decisions to improve the site, before committing to any major website changes.
- Generates more leads – By measuring the impact that changes have on your metrics, you can further refine your next experiment to generate more leads. For e.g. Once you find a landing page version that seems to be converting, you could A/B test again with a more refined version. With a few tweaks and some meticulous A/B testing, you can get more leads.
- Improves content engagement – You can create two versions of your blog post or landing page or any article page and use A/B testing to measure which version attracts more users, which one has a higher engagement time, which one has a lower bounce rate etc. You can then evaluate the metrics and make a list of improvements to be applied to create more refined versions and re-test content engagement. Thus, ultimately selecting a final version that’s best for your customers.
- Reduces cart abandonment – Many e-commerce companies face a problem of cart abandonment, wherein a customer places an item in the shopping cart but drops off mid-way through the conversion process. By A/B testing different elements like trust badges, where the shipping costs are displayed or changing the copy to invoke faith, you can come up with a fitting version that would encourage visitors to complete the checkout process.
A/B Testing step-by-step process
1. Before you run any A/B tests, you need to ensure that your website is well optimized for search engines and you have enough traffic to your website and landing pages to run A/B tests.
2. Analyze your analytics data to identify key areas and landing pages that need attention.
3. Identify your goals and what you want to achieve.
4. Observe how users interact with your website, especially the areas that need attention by using user behavioral tools like Heatmaps, users browsing session videos, form analysis, and on-page surveys to identify the reason, visitors are not converting.
5. Based on the insights, brainstorm ideas and construct a hypothesis aimed at increasing conversions.
6. Using A/B testing, test your original landing page against the new version created.
7. Analyze your results. If your new version is a winner – great! Else use the experiment as a learning experience and create a new hypothesis.
8. Make positive and progressive changes to your website.
A/B Testing and SEO
While Google supports and encourages A/B testing, you must ensure that you do not abuse A/B testing to manipulate your search engine rankings. Below are some best practises to ensure you are always in Google’s good books.
- Make sure that ‘variation B’ does not get indexed by using a meta ‘Noindex’ tag in the section of its landing page. That’s because having nearly the same content on two separate live URLs could cause ‘duplicate content’ issue.
- Apply the ‘rel=canonical’ element to tell search engines that ‘Landing Page A’ is the master copy or original version that needs to be indexed. While ‘variation B’, though similar, is not duplicate content.
- If your test requires you to redirect the ‘original URL’ to the ‘variant URL,’ then use a 302 (temporary) redirect and not a 301 (permanent) redirect. A 302 redirect, tells search engines that the redirect is only temporary, so continue indexing the original URL.
- We should avoid Cloaking. Cloaking is an unethical practice, where one version is created for website users, while Google bots see another manipulated version of the same webpage.
- Run the test experiments only as long as required.