It can be difficult to work with a site that is already built and receiving traffic. It can often seem impossible to know if the site is fully optimized for ease of visitor navigation, nor what moves could be made to make the site better. After all, once a web page is up, most webmasters loathe taking it down for the purpose of retooling. This is where A/B testing can come in handy. With this, you can actually have two different versions of the same page up. Perhaps with different graphics or layouts, and then use the information gained through page hits to figure out which one generates the most traffic or has the longest page views. Based on this method, you can continually optimize your website for maximum value and power.
The easiest way to do this, as with many other things on the Information Superhighway, is through Google. Google has a free application called Google Website Optimizer (GWO), which allows webmasters to employ A/B testing. Before you embark on this process, be sure to do/think about the following things:
- Pick a page you wish to test. It needs to be an interactive page or a page that requires the visitor to click on something.
- Choose the conversion page, or the page that the visitor will reach when clicking through.
- Create the alternate versions of the control page, which is the first page that will be tested.
- You can control the percentage of site traffic that gets sent to the experimental new page, but if you don’t direct at least a medium amount of traffic to it, it will take much longer to determine the results.
Once you’ve got your test pages up and ready, it’s time to put those pages to the test with the following steps.
- Open GWO and select “create new experiment.”
- Type in the URL of the first page as your initial test page.
- Then, type in the URL of the second test page.
- Lastly, type in the URL of the conversion page.
Once GWO has confirms that all of the above links work, it will validate your test. Once you are sure that everything is correct, click “Start Experiment,” which will allow you to set the final points of the test, like how much site traffic will be diverted to the test page. Once you’ve done that, click “Get Started.” This is when GWO will start compiling statistics to help you design your site to be the best that it can be.
A/B testing is a simple and effective way to experiment with organizing information on your site to improve your visitors’ experience. Keep in mind that it’s best to only test one variable at a time when conducting A/B testing to ensure that you know what variables are affecting the site’s traffic. When used correctly, A/B testing can help you ensure that you are ahead of the design curve and maintain visitors on your page.
[box type=”info”]Brian Flores is a SEO and blogger for InMotion Hosting, one of the top providers of virtual private server in the United States. He works with a team of awesome writers to post useful tutorials on WebHostingHelpGuy. You can follow him on Twitter @WHHG_InMotion or @BrianAFlores[/box]