The struggle to gain page visibility on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) has never been more relevant than it is now. With billions of pages being born each day, it is hard not to feel a little overwhelmed in keeping up and staying relevant.
In addition to the fierce competition are rather dismal statistics. In a latest search traffic study, Ahrefs has reported that out of a sample size of one billion web pages, a whopping 90.6% get no traffic from Google’s organic search, and 5.3% get ten or fewer visits per month.
This discovery has pushed many into scrambling for new SEO approaches to boost organic traffic to their pages. For those who cannot afford to risk overhauling their entire website, the answer lies in SEO A/B testing.
A/B testing is the testing of versions of web pages to determine which one performs better or best, and it has long been a staple to gain visibility and organic traffic in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
However, in SEO, it is an underutilised tool due to the complexity of testing in method and scope.
Firstly, testing set-up calls for site pages of the same template to be split into two batches – the control batch that remains exactly the same, and the variant batch on which tweaks in web elements are implemented. This means that only one version of each page exists at one time in the testing process.
Then, depending on the scope of testing, changes implemented can range anywhere from simple elements such as keywords and metadata to more complex ones such as internal linking structures and schema markups.
Ultimately, the goal of SEO A/B testing is to appeal to search engine algorithms instead of user preferences. With Google as the determiner of how pages will rank, only one version of each page can exist at one time in the testing process to prevent duplicated content, which Google is against.
Appealing to algorithms instead of users – this may sound like an easier task. Surely, optimisation is a breeze when the measures of its success are not subject to the baseless whims of human beings.
Well – yes and no.
While user preferences are arguably more random and harder to predict, Google’s algorithms change continually. With this, SEO A/B testing poses an additional challenge: it requires the expertise of experienced SEO specialists who can keep up with these changes and understand their impact.
However, if you do not have access to an SEO team in the meantime, not all hope is lost. There are some basic elements that you can always look out for and make minor improvements on, and they are your keywords and metadata.
Firstly, you should always secure the relevant keywords for your pages. These include brand and industry-related keywords, and you should make a list of all relevant keywords with relatively high search volume and low keyword difficulty.
After taking that first step, the key lies in staying relevant with your selected keywords. Their search volume and keyword difficulty may fluctuate with seasonality and the coming and going of trends. Pay close attention to industry and public chatter around the year and optimise your pages accordingly.
Secondly, you should optimise your metadata. Metadata includes meta titles – the title tags that show up on SERPs and on browser tabs, and meta descriptions – the bits of text beneath the title tags. It also includes headings and subheadings, which are the title and topic headings on your pages.
Metadata informs Google’s algorithms of what your page is about and whether your content can potentially be valuable to your site visitors. Therefore, optimising them can greatly improve your pages’ click-through rates (CTR).
The standard practice is to ensure meta titles and descriptions are kept under 60 and 160 characters, respectively. Keep your title tags concise, and avoid keyword stuffing in your meta descriptions, as Google will penalise your site on the grounds of attempts at algorithm manipulation.
These elements are just the tip of the iceberg that show you what SEO A/B testing can do. For more information on the actual testing process and the full scope of elements that can be tested, head over to our blog post on the topic.
Getting a trusted SEO professional to run sophisticated tests on your pages is an excellent way to improve their overall visibility and CTR without rebuilding your site from scratch. If you are interested in boosting your digital presence, feel free to contact our SEO team at MediaGroup for a consultation and guidance on your next steps.