What To Do Before You Split Test in Google Analytics

Split testing will never go out of style as a tried and true method for ruthlessly pitting two or more versions of similar content against one another in order to identify the best version in terms of converting on your goal. Google Analytics offers a perfect set of tools for determining just that through cold factual engagement based analytics from your website’s users. Let’s talk about what to do BEFORE you split test in Google Analytics.Split Test in Google Analytics

Split Test in Google Analytics

I’ve even done a complete overview on how to split test with Google Analytics. Before you check that out, you need to create the variations of the content which you want to compare, creating new pages of your website to send the split traffic to. You likely aren’t going to create vastly different versions of the same page with your new content, odds are you just want to tweak a headline, video, or call to action, while leaving the rest of the content the same.

While one part of Google will appreciate your fastidiousness in wanting to provide the best content for your visitors, another part will get very angry and confused at the sudden multiple instances of duplicate content. You can read up on my old post on duplicate content and the penalties you may incur, but at best Google will likely de-index the oldest version of your page which you wanted to keep.

Fear not, though, as I’ve got your pre-split test checklist (you like that?), so let’s go through it now.

1 – First, go ahead and tag the new pages as noindex so the search engines know that they shouldn’t consider adding that page to Google’s index (not until we’ve found a winner, that is). Use the tag <meta name=”robots” content=”noindex” /> in the header of the page(s) you want skipped to alert them accordingly. If you’re using WordPress, either the the All-In-One or Yoast SEO plugin has a feature where you can set that page accordingly with a simple click of your mouse.

2 – Next, and this works with the first point, use the rel=”canonical” tag on the new pages and point them to the original page (using the code <link rel=”canonical” href=”http://www.yourdomain.com/originalpage” /> in the header of the new pages). This will tell Google and all the rest that you are aware of the duplicate content and that the pointed to URL is the one with the content which should be considered and indexed if it’s not already.

3 – After you’ve got your winning variation from the split test, you can go ahead delete and create a 301 redirect from the losers and have them point to the winner. This is important especially if the original page wasn’t the winner of the test and you don’t want to just paste the content of the winning page over the original’s URL, because if you’ve decided to move forward with a new URL as the winner, then you’ve got to make sure that any links on or off site pointing to the original page are not lost and instead pass that juice and traffic on to your winning page, easy peasy.

Scroll to Top