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Will using Nelio A/B Testing negatively affect my SEO efforts?

A/B testing is a great way of making sure that what you’re offering really appeals to your users.

So, will serving different content variants change how your site ranks?  

Our plugin serves the exact same code to regular users and Google Search Engine. This means that it’s possible that Google ends up indexing a variant of your page (assuming Google runs the JavaScript redirection, of course). However, to make sure that Google doesn’t consider your test variants as duplicates, all variants include the canonical meta tag.

Therefore, testing poses no inherent risk to your site’s search rank.

However, you’ll still need to take a couple of precautions to ensure that your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is not negatively impacted (because of a misuse of your testing tool as an attempt to deceive search engines).

No Cloaking

Cloaking is the practice of presenting a version of a web page to search engines that is different from the version presented to visitors, with the intention of deceiving the search engines and affecting the page’s ranking in the search index. Some examples of cloaking include:

  • Serving a page of HTML text to search engines, while showing a page of images or Flash to users.
  • Inserting text or keywords into a page only when the User-agent requesting the page is a search engine, not a human visitor.

Your variant pages should maintain the spirit of the content on your original pages. Those variants shouldn’t change the meaning of or your visitors’ general perception of that original content.

Only Run The Test as Long as Necessary

The amount of time required for a reliable test will vary depending on factors like your conversion rates, and how much traffic your website gets. Nelio A/B Testing will tell you when you’ve gathered enough data to draw a reliable conclusion. Once you’ve concluded the test, you should update your site with the desired content variant(s) as soon as possible.

The recommendations above should result in your tests having little or no impact on your site in search results. Small changes, such as the size, color, or placement of a button or image, or the text of your “call to action” (“Add to cart” vs. “Buy now!”), can have a surprising impact on visitors’ interactions with your webpage, but will often have little or no impact on that page’s search result snippet or ranking.