One of the most common compromises marketers end up making when doing digital optimisation is choosing between maintaining hard-earned SEO, or focusing on equally hard-earned CRO on their sites. This lose/lose choice comes from a couple of places: redirects kill page authority by about 10% according to some research, Google penalises pages for “cloaking” if a test runs for too long, redirects slow down page load time which is an important factor in search rankings, and many optimisation tools aren’t efficient at bot filtering — meaning your site will run into trouble getting indexed. SiteSpect doesn’t have any of these problems, and this blog will break down why, plus how you can continue to optimise your on-site conversions and your organic search rankings. No compromises necessary.
Rewrites over Redirects
The source of most of the SEO problems digital optimisers encounter is redirects. While a classic 301 or 302 redirect is useful, it is a major hit to SEO for a couple of reasons. The redirect itself lowers page authority, the hit to page speed also causes a hit to search rankings, and the method of redirection can get you penalised for cloaking (presenting different content to the user and the browser) over time.
In a simple split A/B test, tag-based testing tools will create two different URLs and then use either a 301 or 302 redirect to split traffic. This means your browser needs to make two jumps before it reaches the desired page. There are ways to use redirects properly that don’t negatively impact your SEO efforts, but these methods tend to be restrictive when doing optimisation and testing.
SiteSpect instead uses rewrites on request, bypassing the need for redirects altogether. SiteSpect sits in the flow of traffic — not in the browser. So, when you want to direct users to another experience that change is implemented before the request gets to the server, not in the browser. This eliminates that extra step and extra loading time, and does not confuse the search engine or raise any red flags.
This also has benefits for indexing. SiteSpect segments at the user level, meaning it identifies search engine bots and allows them to index your original content. Search engines don’t get the conflicting information that they would with redirects, and the user has a much quicker and smoother experience.
SEO versus CRO
In addition to the collateral impact A/B testing can have on your search engine rankings, you can also use A/B testing to measure the efficacy of SEO strategies. While some SEO only testing tools allow you to implement an SEO strategy on one group of pages and compare it to a second group of pages, SiteSpect allows you to test any element, in any combination, on any page. The reason for each type of testing comes down to the difference between SEO and CRO.
SEO (search engine optimisation) is the practice of building web pages specifically to rank highly in search engines. CRO (conversion rate optimisation) is the practice of testing and iterating on web pages to increase the conversion rate for users already on the page. You need both: SEO drives people to your site, CRO makes the most of that visit. Testing with SiteSpect allows you to get the best of both worlds by uniquely empowering web optimisation teams to also benefit SEO.