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I'm kinda curious how A/B testing for SEO works. You can't show one version of your site to half of Google and another to...er, the other half of Google? I suppose you could measure your search referers one month, make the change, and then measure it the next month, but your data will be very noisy. You're likely to get more searchers coming later simply because of additional word-of-mouth, traction within the marketplace, maturing of the industry, etc.

Google Website Optimizer: A free website testing and optimization tool, which can be used to find out what site content and designs which best resonates with the visitors, by letting Website Optimizer to show different versions of website to visitors while tracking the performance of each version.

Right, that's describing ordinary A/B testing on visitors, where you show half of your users one version and half a different version and then measure their behavior. That's pretty well understood.

What I don't understand is how you would apply A/B testing to SEO. There's only one Google; you can't show half of Google one version and half another Google. How do you get data on which version is better for search engines without being able to compare them while holding other factors constant?

There is no real A/B testing for SEO, sorry. As you say, there is only one Google.

You can try to simulate a 'test' with two equal throwaway sites, but this will never give you the same insight as using it on a big site with real content and real visitors. But it can help you find problems in linking structures, tweak the (really small) benefits of using one or another html tag.

The success of SEO can't be isolated. But, increased crawling of the page and disproportionate visitor growth from Google are good signs.

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