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Ask the SEO Specialists: Why A/B Testing?

SEO is all about getting visitors to your site so that they can have the chance to get sold on whatever you’re offering. So why, if SEO is about increasing the number of visitors to your site, are so many SEO specialists offering A/B testing services that have nothing to do with driving traffic? Simple: because SEO specialists understand that you don’t actually care about the number of visitors to your sales page — your manager might, but he doesn’t really know why he does.

The truth is that the only number that actually matters is the RoI you get from your Internet marketing efforts. Everything else that gets tracked, reported on, modified, and recorded for posterity is simply part of the mechanism that SEO companies use to try to improve the all-important RoI. And A/B testing (and it’s more complex, usually-overpriced brother multivariate testing) is how you ‘teach’ your website how to squeeze more money out of the same number of visitors.

Is it SEO? Nope. All the A/B testing in the world won’t add a single incoming visitor to your Google Analytics. Does it make every dollar you spend on SEO more powerful? Absolutely! It’s this simple: would you rather have 3% of the 100 organic visitors your SEO guided in purchase your wares, or 3.1%?  Pretty easy question, right? Who would choose fewer paying customers? Yet, by neglecting to improve their website’s ability to convert visitors into customers, that’s exactly what hundreds of thousands of online businesses are doing every day.

So how does it work? Pretty simply: first, you decide what you’re going to change about your site. For example, you can change your headline from black text to red text. Then, the A/B Testing code will show half of your visitors one version of the page and the other half will get the other version. It then tracks how many visitors on each version actually make purchases, and after a sufficient number of visitors (usually 5,000 or so), you have a pretty solid idea of what the conversion rate of each page is.

It’s quite likely that a small change like title color will improve your conversion rate by some small amount, like .2% — but by improving your conversions by .2% every few months for a few years, you can change a 2% conversion to a 3.5% or so, and improve your RoI on your SEO (and every single other traffic-generating investment you make) by 75%. That’s serious value!

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