In my last post, we looked at the reasons why the principles of Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) works with Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
It’s an important topic. There’s a pervasive misconception – or, more commonly, irrational fear – that the risk of hurting your search rankings by running A/B or multivariate testing is too high. We run tests all day, every day and have yet to see an example of a page that’s optimized for conversions hurting search rankings. Smart online marketers rely on both methods to maximize website ROI.
How To Do CRO Without Hurting Your SEO
Following are some tips to follow during and after running a test to ensure your A/B testing doesn’t mess up your search rankings.
During Your Conversion Optimization Test
- Add your variation pages, in the case of an A/B/n test, to your robots.txt file to block spiders for a double layer of protection against ‘duplicate content’ penalties.
- Use the same title, meta and heading link content in your test variation pages as in your Control page.
- Use standards-compliant code on your variation and implement SEO best-practices, such as img alt attributes, search-friendly text and css-based code.
- Move supplemental on-page content below the page fold if you feel it’s important for SEO but not for conversions. It is possible to have content appear first within the page code but lower on the visible page presentation. This may be a consideration if your important SEO content may be hurting conversions.
After Your Test
- Once a winning page is declared, it should be double-checked for SEO-friendliness and any structural and coding modifications made based on your SEO best-practices.
- When you replace your old page with the new higher-converting page, use a 301 redirect from your variation page URLs in case anyone linked to one of the variation pages during the test.
Following these tips will ensure your new, higher-converting page will also retain or even improve your search rankings.
More Info on SEO for Conversion Optimization
Below are articles that Google has provided that’s as close as we can get to an ‘official’ response to the question of SEO-friendly CRO:
- Google Website Optimizer & Cloaking
- Google Website Optimizer and search ranking
- Google Website Optimizer & Landing Page Quality
- Matt Cutts, who is a Google spokesperson well known in the SEO community, is a strong proponent of using Google Website Optimizer for testing. See 2:00 in this video interview as an example.
This is an important topic for marketers wanting to achieve both top search engine rankings and optimized conversion rates. Any other tips? As always, please feel free to add your comments or questions below.
Don’t miss the next blog update:
Discover how your experimentation program stacks up!
Benchmark your experimentation maturity with our new 7-minute maturity assessment and get proven strategies to develop an insight-driving growth machine.Get started