Choosing the right metric for an SEO split test directly impacts the validity and applicability of your test results. 

The right metric ensures that you're measuring what truly matters for your specific goal. It also guides your testing efforts towards meaningful, actionable outcomes that drive real improvements in your SEO strategy.

Selecting a poorly aligned metric, on the other hand, can lead to misleading or hard-to-measure insights, causing you to make decisions that don't effectively enhance your site's SEO performance. 

Below, we’ll go over some of the best metrics to track for SEO split testing and provide insight into why rankings – one of the most coveted metrics in SEO – aren’t one of them. 

Table of Contents: 


5 of the Best Metrics to Run SEO Split Tests For

Let’s jump into some of the best metrics to use for SEO split testing and the reason behind why they’re a good fit for driving meaningful and measurable results. 


1. Traffic

Traffic is an internal analytics metric that measures the number of visitors to your site. It serves as a key indicator of a website's visibility and attractiveness in search results, reflecting the effectiveness of SEO efforts in drawing users.

Most importantly, traffic is a way that most marketing channels validate results since it is directly linked to tangible business outcomes. 

For example, increased traffic often helps generate more leads, drive conversions, and boost sales. This makes it a crucial metric for assessing the effectiveness of your SEO split test.


2. Click Through Rate (CTR)

CTR is a metric from Google Search Console that represents the percentage of users who click on your search result after viewing it. 

A high CTR indicates that your content is relevant and appealing to your audience, signaling to search engines that your page is valuable. As such, an increase or decline in CTR helps indicate whether your SEO split test had a positive or negative impact on your site’s SEO.

In addition, finding ways to improve CTR through split testing (such as optimizing elements like title tags, meta descriptions, and URLs) can lead to a higher likelihood of conversions and sales. 

The measurable impact of CTR on the ROI of your SEO efforts makes it a valuable metric to run SEO split tests on. 


3. Clicks

Clicks directly quantify the number of times users have engaged with your content from search engine results pages (SERPs), providing a clear measure of initial interest or relevance. 

They are a crucial business-driving metric because they represent the first step of user engagement, leading visitors from search results to your website where they can interact with your content, products, or services. 

High click numbers indicate that your title tags and meta descriptions are effectively capturing attention and matching search intent. 

This metric not only helps in understanding user behavior but also in evaluating the immediate impact of your SEO efforts on driving traffic to your site.

Additionally, an increase in clicks opens up a greater opportunity for conversions, ultimately contributing to revenue generation and business growth. For these reasons, it is a very meaningful and measurable metric to use in SEO split testing.


4. Conversions

Conversions are a pivotal SEO metric because they measure the effectiveness of your website in turning visitors into customers or achieving desired actions, such as making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, filling out a contact form, or any other specific goal you want to track.

High conversion rates also indicate that your site attracts the right audience through optimized content and keywords.

As such, tracking conversions helps align SEO efforts with business goals. 

Ultimately, SEO split tests focused on conversions reflect the return on investment (ROI) of SEO strategies, highlighting their contribution to the bottom line.


5. Impressions 

Impressions count how often your site appears in search results, providing insights into your content's visibility and reach. 

While not indicative of user action, high impressions mean higher potential for clicks and traffic. In other words, they set the stage for the user interactions that lead to profitable outcomes.

Testing for changes in impressions can help assess the impact of SEO adjustments on your site's presence in SERPs, informing strategies to improve visibility for revenue-driving keywords.


Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Run an SEO Split Test for Rankings

You may have noticed that rankings were missing from the list of metrics above.

This might come as a surprise since rankings are one of the most common metrics many SEOs want to use in split tests. And, in theory, it makes sense. SEOs are all about increasing visibility in the SERPs and boosting rankings is often an effective way to increase traffic.

But this metric isn’t actually a good choice if you want meaningful, measurable test results that have a clear impact on your business goals. 

Here are some of the main reasons why we don’t recommend running an SEO split test for rankings. 


The Results Aren’t Measurable

The main reason why we don’t recommend running an SEO split test for rankings is that the results aren’t measurable. 

Google’s algorithm is complex and considers an extensive amount of ranking factors. On a single page, there are hundreds of ranking signals that Google may take into account. 

Since there are so many ranking factors, it would be nearly impossible to know if the specific change you made affected rankings. 


Ranking Factors Constantly Change

Another reason why we don’t suggest running an SEO split test for rankings is because Google constantly changes and updates its algorithm. 

So even if you manage to pinpoint a change that has a meaningful impact on your site’s rankings, an algorithm update could render that test completely useless the following day. 

In the case of SEO split testing, you want to make changes that either get reflected in the SERP or will drive more clicks, CTR, traffic, or other revenue-based metrics. 


The Personalization Effect

Another crucial element to consider, which falls outside the realm of measurable factors, is Google's personalization effect. Google tailors search results for each individual based on their previous search activities.  

This personalization means that identical queries can yield different results for different users, influenced by their unique search histories. So, even if multiple people searched for the same term, the rank position of their results might vary. 

For this reason, rankings wouldn’t be able to paint a completely accurate picture of the success or failure of your split test. 


Ranking Higher Isn’t the End Goal

Ranking higher in the SERP doesn’t mean much if those rankings don’t actually drive business to your site. 

It’s possible to improve rankings for numerous keywords, but still not see an increase in traffic, CTR, or conversions. In which case, what is the point?

The opposite can also be true. 

You could change something that doesn’t have an impact on rankings, but does impact CTR or traffic (i.e. if you ran a title tag test and added a keyword that resonated with searchers). If you were just measuring rankings, the test would look like a fail, but in reality it had a positive impact on your ultimate business goals. 

As such, it’s more beneficial to run your SEO split test for revenue-based metrics rather than rankings.



Leveraging the metrics listed above in your SEO split tests will help ensure that your efforts produce quantifiable and actionable results, steering your SEO strategy toward tangible improvements.

Here’s a quick review:

  • Traffic
  • CTR
  • Clicks
  • Conversions
  • Impressions

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