Any SEO agency worth their salt is familiar with A/B testing. By testing different options, you can continue to filter out what works from what doesn’t. The end result, of course, is some form of content or strategy that is inevitably stronger – assuming you’ve done it right.
One area where this works particularly well is with PPC, or Pay Per Click, advertising. While you may able to find the right keywords, none of it matters if the adverts aren’t compelling. This is where A/B testing really shines through.
Test Fairly – Don’t Trust Weighted Results
The most simplistic method of A/B testing is to run another campaign alongside your existing set-up – Google actually let’s us do this with experiments. AdWords lets you change your campaign but, rather than making permanent changes, save various versions as drafts. One such version can then be run live, using a portion of your budget, and this is referred to as the ‘experiment’. If you like it, Google even lets you switch the campaign over as well!
However, this is where many SEO experts fall into a pitfall. By adding a secondary campaign to their existing, primary campaign, many don’t want to eat into the restrictive budget that they have, seeing the experiment as a risk or gamble. This ultimately means, however, that the results will always be less effective on the experiment – but it’s very easy to forget this when looking at the lower results at the end of the month.
Of course, you’re not expected to run a complete 50/50 split (although that would give the best results). If you do have an unbalanced split, make sure you factor this in when comparing results.
Keywords are a great, but a query with a smaller search term is always more valuable than a broader term if it more closely matches your product or service. This is certainly true with PPC. A popular search term, such as “buy clothes online” will get lots of hits, whereas “buy blue cardigans” is much more niche.
Yet the latter is specific and works well with PPC. When using paid ads, forget about the big numbers. Focus on smaller, long-tail keywords. This will, of course, mean having different ad groups targeting different product pages, rather than broader landing pages, but this ultimately helps you get the conversions you want. By understanding the intent behind search terms, you can more greatly work with user goals, rather than against them.
The goal of A/B testing is to find better solutions, so it makes sense to do this again and again. If you have the budget, follow up your first A/B test, comparing the previous winner with a new campaign, based on any findings or conclusions you’ve drawn so far.
Over time, you’ll be able to better craft your ads and gain an understanding into what works and – more importantly – what doesn’t.
Of course, this takes time, so it’s best suited to permanent pages, rather than temporary pages. You can still use seasonal pages, of course, if the main content (the page and product, for instance), doesn’t change.
So, there you have it, 3 important things to keep in mind when A/B testing with PPC!