How to carry out SEO A/B testing in Google Search Console

  • 30-second summary: SEO A/B screening enables site owners to comprehend whether the changes they make to their site have a positive influence on keyword rankings.
  • Anything on a website can be A/B checked, but the best versions to test are those that have a direct relationship to Google’s ranking algorithm.
  • How site owners can best perform an SEO A/B test will depend upon the size of their site and their ability to quickly roll back modifications.
  • If an A/B test proves that a particular optimization is effective, a site owner can more confidently include similar or identical changes to other pages of their website.

For SEO strategists, it is sometimes hard to know which of the lots of modifications we make to our websites in fact affect their total SEO performance. Moving sites from page 10 to page 2 can generally be accomplished by following SEO finest practices, however the trek to page 1? That requires much more granular attention to the specific modifications we make to our landing pages. Get in SEO A/B screening, among the very best ways to narrow in and comprehend the effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) of particular optimizations.

Lots of digital online marketers are comfy utilizing A/B testing features in their PPC campaigns or to analyze user behavior in Google Analytics, but less are incorporating this powerful strategy to much better comprehend which of their on-page optimizations have the best effect on keyword rankings.

SEO A/B testing can appear intimidating, but with the right tools, it’s actually fairly simple to carry out. Not just does A/B screening aid SEOs determine the most impactful optimizations, however it also provides a way to measure their efforts. Although SEO A/B screening is more often made use of by sophisticated SEO strategists, site owners who are comfy working on the backend of their site have a great opportunity to elevate their SEO strategy through well-structured A/B tests.

What is SEO A/B screening?

When it concerns regulated experiments, evaluating 2 variants is the fundamental building block from which all other testing is constructed. A/B screening is simply determining how a single variant effects an outcome. In the case of SEO, the results are either better, worse, or static keyword rankings.

It does not take much to get started. You’ll require Google Search Console for one (the absolute fact of your SEO rankings), as well as 2 clearly defined variations you wish to check out. Lastly, site owners require to have a dev or staging environment where they can save a variation of their website prior to the SEO A/B test simply in case the modifications do not produce the desired results.

Finest use cases for SEO A/B screening

Anything can be A/B tested on our websites, however for SEO functions, specific site aspects are more likely to lead to keyword rankings improvements since of the weight they carry in Google’s algorithm. For that reason, the below elements are the very best usage cases for SEO A/B tests.

Title tags

Selecting title tags is so crucial and has a big influence on search engine result. Since they directly affect click-through-rate (CTR), Title tag modifications are extremely impactful from a rankings viewpoint. Google has a stabilized expected CTR for searches, and if your landing pages continuously fall listed below the mark, it will negatively affect your general opportunities of ranking.

Meta descriptions

For those websites that already have a great deal of keywords on page one and are for that reason getting lots of impressions, A/B screening meta descriptions can be really helpful. Like title tags, they straight effect CTR, and enhancing them can lead to substantially more clicks and therefore much better rankings.

Schema markup

It’s great to include schema markup to all of your web pages (you miss all the shots you don’t take!)if you can, however if particular pages on your site still don’t have markup, adding it can be an excellent use case for an A/B test.

Internal links

Internal links communicate to Google site architecture, and they also disperse PageRank throughout our sites. Getting internal links right can produce significant keyword ranking enhancements, particularly for larger websites with thousands of landing pages. Because of how much they move PageRank, focus on header and footer links. For websites with item pages, you can use A/B testing to discover the best anchor text for your internal links.

New material

Adding excellent material to your landing pages is constantly helpful since longer material suggests topical depth. Utilizing a landing page optimizer tool can assist you improve the semantic richness of your content, and a subsequent A/B test empowers you to measure whether Google favorably responds to those quality signals.

Large groups of pages

For ecommerce sites or those who may add a big group of pages all at once, you can use A/B testing to determine whether those pages are crawled and indexed in such a way that positively or negatively hurts your existing rankings.

Info architecture

There are particular elements of details architecture that are more particular to SEO. Google likes page experience functions like carousels and jumplinks, so understanding the impact of adding these features to your websites is another reason to perform an SEO A/B Test.

Website migrations

Whenever you make core technical changes to your website, A/B testing is a great way to measure how those changes effect keyword rankings. It also assists avoid your site from experiencing a substantial rankings drop in the long-term.

The types of SEO A/B screening

There are a couple of various types of A/B tests that you can execute on your website. It will largely depend upon the number of landing pages you have along with the classification of versions you are evaluating out.

A then B

The most basic type of A/B screening, this kind of test will merely compare the performance of a single page with one different variation. This type of A/B test is better for smaller sized sites and simpler to carry out, especially if you’re confident that the changes remain in the ideal instructions.


This type of A/B test allows for even more statistically significant results and can be executed on big sites with hundreds to thousands of landing pages. Instead of determining a single version on a single page, pick 2 page groups of similar pages (I suggest a minimum of 50 pages per friend) and change the version on all of those pages.


This typical type of experimentation has the very same core mechanisms of an A/B test, however it increases the number of versions being tested. Multivariate screening can be great for determining user habits, but it is less effective in determining search efficiency when you’re attempting to discover whether a particular optimization has a direct impact on keyword rankings.

How to perform an SEO A/B test

The simplest way to do A/B tests is by using website pictures and rollbacks. Basically, you take a site photo, make the modification to your site, and kick back for a week and watch what takes place. You’ll see it in your benchmarking if the modification to the site has improved your SEO. If you’ve slipped up, then you just roll back to a previous version of your website and move forward with different optimizations.

Here is an easy step-by-step process of an SEO A/B test:

  1. Take a site photo or do a website backup prior to implementing modifications so you can go back to a previous variation of your website if the change is ineffective
  2. Figure out the version being evaluated (for instance, title tag,, and the others) and make the change to a page or associate of similar pages
  3. Wait 7-14 days to figure out the impact of the change
  4. Compare the keyword rankings for the variant page/s to the original. This can be carried out in Google Search Console or a Google Search Console Dashboard

If the optimizations are impactful, you can proceed with making similar changes to other pages of your site. More targeted changes like including keyword-rich title tags and meta descriptions will not always directly equate to other pages. More technical optimizations like and details architecture can be executed across the whole of your site with more confidence if an A/B test proves them impactful.

Some useful recommendations for SEO testing across hosting environments

The method you continue with action one will depend upon your dev and staging environment. You can take site snapshots if you’re hosting on DigitalOcean. You can select a website backup to bring back from if you’re on WPEngine. For the best in class, attempt Version Control from Git, which enables you to roll back to any version of your website.

Version Control resembles Track Changes on a Word Document, but the history never gets erased. With Version Control, even if you delete something or alter it, there is a chronology to all of the modifications that have been made– when a line of code was produced, when it was modified– and you can roll back at any time.

It’s also important to ensure all of the in-development pages and test environment pages on your site have the robots no index tag. Some SEO professionals might tell you that adding the pages to your blocklist in robots.txt or with on-page rel canonical tags would be sufficient, however at LinkGraph I’ve seen various examples where pages or subdomains were added to robotics and continued to be in search results page for months. Just adding a canonical tag is insufficient at blocking the dev domain from crawling and indexing.

The best method is to utilize the robots no index. The even better technique is to use both robots no index and rel canonicals for added defense.

For how long does it require to know whether the variant was effective?

For how long you wait to measure your A/B tests will depend upon how often Google crawls your website. You may have to wait longer in order for Google to actually see your changes if you check parts of your domain that aren’t crawled frequently. If you’re changing main pages that Google crawls often, you can likely see whether those optimizations had any effect within 7-14 days.

As you evaluate the effectiveness of your optimizations, beware of confounding variables. Numerous backlinks in a brief period of time, adding Javascript, and naturally, algorithm changes, can greatly impact keyword rankings. Any kind of experimentation is more precise when you can eliminate variables, so do your best to not schedule A/B tests during link structure projects, core algorithm updates, or any period of high search volatility.

When done properly, A/B screening can be a powerful way to improve your SEO method toward optimum outcomes. Not only can A/B testing aid site owners make more data-driven decisions, but it can likewise assist SEO strategists prove the value of their work to customers or executive leadership who might be wary of buying SEO.

Manick Bhan is the creator and CTO of LinkGraph, an award-winning digital marketing and SEO firm that offers SEO, paid media, and material marketing services. He is also the creator and CEO of SearchAtlas, a software application suite of free SEO tools. You can discover Manick on Twitter

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