How to Create an A/B Test of Existing Pages on Your WordPress

Published in Online Marketing.

A/B tests are the best tool to improve the conversion of a website. A page A/B test is a design test that allows us to carry out variations of the same page to compare user behavior and to assess which variation is the one that obtains the best results.

Usually, when you create an A/B test to improve the conversion of a given page (which we call “Control Variant” or “Variant A”), you create a version that is a copy of said page (“Alternative Variant” or “Variant B”). Then you make design or content changes to the copy to analyze which of the two versions generates more conversions (more purchases, subscriptions, or any other action you want to count).

The traffic coming to the original page will be split so that half of your visits will still see the original page and the other half, the new variant created. This way, you will be able to analyze which version has the best conversion rate.

An image depicting how A/B testing works: traffic is split and each segment sees one variant, and then we check which variant got more conversions
In its simplest form, A/B testing proposes to randomly split the traffic to the site in two groups so that 50% of the visitors see the A design while the other 50% sees the B design. By monitoring how users in each group react, we can calculate the conversion rate of each group and, in case there is a statistically significant difference between the two, declare a winner design.

For example, on our Nelio A/B Testing pricing page we wanted to perform an A/B test by changing the button colors and margins as well as the background image. We wanted to see if we could get more subscribers. In the following comparison you can see the original version of the first block (on the left) and the alternative version (on the right).

Colores originales de la tabla de precios.
Colores alternativos del tabla de precios.
Original colors (left) and alternative colors to test (right) in the pricing table.

However, when the changes you want to make are more radical or you are designing completely new pages, you may be interested in testing existing pages on your website.

Why Test Two Different Existing Pages?

If you have two published pages, what is the point of creating an A/B test in this context if you already have the visit and conversion data to compare in Google Analytics? The answer is that these figures are not enough to understand if one page is better than the other. Let’s see it with an example.

On our website we have defined different pages about Nelio A/B Testing, in which we show how our plugin is a solution applicable to a wide variety of sectors and types of website. Among them, for example, we have Nelio A/B Testing for Publishers and Nelio A/B Testing for Marketers.

In Google Analytics you can see the number of visits each page has received and the number of conversions (for example, visitors who have clicked on the “Start Now” button). You might then conclude that the one with the highest conversion rate or (number of conversions divided by the number of visits) is the best page. But this may be wrong.

On the one hand, you have to take into account that the visits to each page may be very different and perhaps not statistically comparable. Also, a visitor who converts on one page may have previously viewed (in the same session or at any other time) the other page. How do you know which of the two pages convinced the visitor to try the product?

An A/B test of two existing pages on your website ensures that the traffic coming to either of the two pages will be divided into two. In this way, each visitor who arrives to any of the two pages, as part of a test, will only see one of them. And they will always see the same one on their successive visits.

Therefore, the data you get will be statistically comparable. And so you will know, reliably, which page has the best conversion. Let’s see below how to create this type of A/B test on your WordPress website.

Steps to Create an A/B test in the Block Editor

To create an A/B test on a WordPress website, we recommend that you use one of the tools available on the market. And in particular, we recommend the use of Nelio A/B Testing (free and premium version from €29/month) because it is the only tool that is fully created as a native WordPress plugin. Being 100% compatible with the block editor, you don’t need to learn or use any other external tools for its operation. And you can take full advantage of all the features that the Gutenberg editor (or any other page builder you might be using) already offers.

Install and Activate the Nelio A/B Testing Plugin

If you have never used Nelio A/B Testing, you must first install and activate the plugin (a free version is available) directly from your WordPress dashboard. And from here, you will already have the Nelio A/B Testing tab in your dashboard menu with which you can create your first test.

Nelio A/B Testing plugin menu options
Nelio A/B Testing plugin menu tabs. Click on “Tests” to create your first test.

Define the Type of Test to Create

With Nelio A/B Testing you can not only create page tests. You can also create other types of tests: posts, custom post types, menus, templates, widgets, etc.. Thus, after clicking on “Add test” you can select that you want to create a page test:

Test selector in Nelio A/B Testing
Selector of test in Nelio A/B Testing.

and give it a descriptive name so you can identify it in the future.

In the right sidebar you will find some additional tabs:

  • Status and Management, where you see the status your test is currently in (Draft, Ready, Scheduled, or Paused) and options on when it should start and end.
  • Description of the test: you can indicate what you are testing and what you intend to achieve with it.
  • Test Scope: specify which pages of your website are affected by this test.
Defining a two-page A/B test with Nelio A/B Testing
Defining a two-page A/B test with Nelio A/B Testing.

Select the Pages to Test

In order to compare the two or more pages that you want to be part of the test, first select one of the pages (“Control version” or commonly “Version A”) with the selector available to you. Note that you can search for it by typing its title, its URL or its identifier.

Selecting a page as a control version of an A/B test
Selection of a page as a control version of an A/B test.

Next, you can indicate whether the alternative of the page test you are creating will be a variant that you create explicitly for this test (as is usual in most A/B tests) or whether you want to select an existing page.

Mark, in the checkbox provided, that the test of the page is against an already existing page. Now you can select the page that will be part of the test as “Variant B”, just as you did before with the original page.

Creating an A/B page test between two existing pages
Creating an A/B test of pages between two existing pages.

Note that you can add more variants if you want to create a multi-variant test. In addition, you also have the option to edit the page to make any necessary changes.

Define Test Conversion Goals and Actions

Once you have selected the pages that will be part of the A/B test, you must define the conversion goals of the test and what actions visitors must perform to meet those goals. For example, a visitor may show interest in your products by clicking a button or visiting a page. With Nelio A/B testing you have different types of conversion actions to track your visitors.

Adding a conversion goal and action in an A/B test
Definition of the goal «Visits to Price page» selecting as conversion action, the visit to the content of said page.

Segment Test Traffic

Visitors to your website are not all the same. They come from different countries, speak different languages, use different browsers, access the site from different websites, use different devices, and a host of other subtle and big differences.

If you want all the traffic coming to your website to be part of the created test, ignore this point and go directly to the next one. But depending on the type of website and traffic you have, you may want to refine the audience you want to reach.

Nelio A/B testing allows you to create segments, that is, define by means of rules the set of visitors with a series of common characteristics that you want to participate in your test.

Adding a segment in an A/B test
Adding a segment in an A/B test.

Here you will find more detailed information on how to create segments in a test.

Run the Test

That’s the final step! You already have your existing two-page test created, so all you have to do now is click on the “Start” button on the test at the top right of the editor. You will then be able to start seeing the results of the test you just created.

A/B test between two existing pages created
A/B test between two existing pages started.

Analyze the Progress of the Test

Once the test has started, as you can see in the image above, you will be able to check the status of the test at all times. On the one hand, in the right sidebar, the status icon will inform you if there are still not enough visits for there to be a winner, if there is a variant that is winning, but with low confidence, or if you already have a winning variant of the test.

In addition, you have a set of graphics to see the total number of conversions and page views of the test. Or you can see the conversion rates of each alternative and its degree of improvement, respectively. You can also see the thumbnail image of the pages you are testing with the details of the visits, conversion, and improvement (or worsening) with respect to the control version.

Below you have the image of the results of the price page test that I mentioned at the beginning of this post. In this case, we were able to confirm that the original version was better than the alternative.

Results of the test regarding the objective of making a purchase.
Results of the test regarding the goal of making a purchase.

In addition, when you create an A/B test of pages with Nelio A/B Testing, you have the option to see heatmaps, scrollmaps, and confetti maps of each alternative with additional information about the behavior of your visitors.

To Sum Up

In order to get the most out of your marketing efforts to increase your website’s SEO, make sure to minimize the abandonment rate and increase the conversion of your pages. A/B tests are the best tool to optimize the conversion rate because, through statistically significant data, you can know between two or several alternatives which one converts more.

The most common way to create an A/B test of a page is to create variations of it, trying to improve those aspects that can generate friction. You will have the certainty, with verified data, that a given change on that page will have an impact of improving the conversion.

Comparing the conversion between different pages already created can help you understand which designs and content have the most impact on your visitors. This way, you can better focus your SEO strategy.

The great advantage of using Nelio A/B Testing to create tests of existing pages is that, thanks to its integration with the WordPress editor, you do not need any programming knowledge. In a few minutes you can have a test running on your website.

Featured image by NeONBRAND on Unsplash.

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