Perform Split Testing with phpA/B

Daniel Scocco

Split testing, also called A/B testing, is a testing method where you compare a base sample with another test sample, changing one specific variable inside it.

For example, you could have a base landing page, and then you would compare it against a new landing page where you changed the main headline.

As a blogger, there are many things you could improve with split testing. Examples include:

  • The number of subscribers you get by testing the headline and position of the subscription form.
  • The AdSense earnings by testing different AdSense units and placements.
  • The bounce rate of the blog, by testing different placements of your content above the fold.
  • The number of retweets you get per post, based on the placement of the retweet button.

But how do you perform a split test? You have two options. You can either do it manually, by changing the variable one week at a time and then tracking the results, or by using a piece of software and letting it rotate the variables for you.

The second option, which involves automated software testing tools, is usually the best one, and a couple of days I discovered a software you can use to do that. It is called phpA/B, and it is free as long as you use it for personal purposes.

I haven’t test it yet, but it looks promising. The main idea is to let you test anything within your site, with a simple setup interface. You can also integrate it with Google Analytics if you want.

Definitely worth a look. Once I test it here I’ll write a more complete review, so stay tuned.



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18 Responses to “Perform Split Testing with phpA/B”

  • adams

    And why not use Google Website Optimizer for this? Its free.

    • Rian Orie

      As is phpA/B, it doesn’t matter so much what tool you use really, all A/B testing tools provide one big common element in their toolkit, they provide the ability to test between version A and B of a certain aspect in your site. Google website optimizer does this just as well as phpA/B does.

      One might argue phpA/B provides a little more freedom as it actually provides you with tools that you can use to implement the A/B testing, where-as Google website optimizer only provides result verification.

  • kevinxiao

    I recently came across your blog and have been reading along

  • Mani Viswanathan

    Superb concept. Will try it soon enough.

    Will be waiting for your review though 😛

  • godlark

    I’ve never make split testing. Now split testing in my blog may be stupid, because now I am doing a lot of other works on my blog, so results may be falsified.
    I think about write a split tester in Ajax.

  • K. Praslowicz

    My initial concern with a PHP based split tester instead of a Javascript based solution such as Test & Target is how it will handle on sites which are using some sort of page caching to reduce server load.

    Keep an eye out for potential lopsided testing segments.

  • jason

    i have never done split testing, but it definitely sounds like something that I will be performing in the future, as I delve deeper into the depths of blogging.

  • Katie

    If you do a review, could you compare it to google webmaster tools?

  • Tom | Oral Answers

    Daniel,

    Do you know if there is an easy way to implement this to alternate themes on a WordPress-powered site?

    I noticed that you can add the phpAB code into a page, but I think it would take a LOT of those to change all of the CSS, images, divs, and everything else.

    Thanks for letting us know about this.

    • Rian Orie

      Tom, combined with, for example, a theme switcher plugin this should be relatively easy to do.

      I wonder though, how effective is A/B testing when you change the whole site.. doesn’t it defeat the purpose of A/B testing? The point of A/B testing is to increase results through fine-tuning small parts of your site.

      • Tom | Oral Answers

        Thanks for the reply, Rian. I’ve been working on reducing my bounce rate and I think the theme plays a huge role in that. I would make the themes pretty similar, but change subtle graphics and colors to see if one is more attractive to visitors and entices them to stick around for a while.

        While the theme may play a large role in sites, I think the content is the main attraction… It’s probably not as subtle as many of the other A/B tests that could be performed.

  • Sally

    Hi Daniel,

    Do you know something, it’s funny, but I test sales pages and squeeze pages all the time…

    But I never thought to test my blog!

    Can’t see the wood for the trees sometimes until someone points out the obvious.

    Will get onto it pronto!

    Fab post, Sally 🙂

  • Justin Germino

    I didn’t do formal split testing but tried out various combinations of AdSense units for one week, then switched a week later and vice versa. Something that automates the split testing is much more beneficial as I had to track all the statistics manually.

  • Josh Garcia

    Hey Daniel,

    Thanks for reminding me of this. I was doing a lot of split testing couple of month back. Then of course, I got comfortable with what I have. I will look at the link. However, tell us how it works with a full review.

    Chat with you later…
    Josh

  • Paras Chopra
  • carolee Sperry

    I look forward to hear how it works out for you.

  • Nabeel | Create Your First Website

    Hi Daniel,

    I agree, split testing can work wonders and not just in blogging, but in any website like a squeeze page, a sales page etc.

    phpA/B looks like a novel concept and idea. I thought the only way to split test was the ‘this title for one week and the next title for the second week’ approach.

    I wonder how how do you actually implement it on a blog/website?

    Looking forward to the detailed review!

    Kindest,
    Nabeel

    • Daniel Scocco

      It is a php script you need to donwload and install on your server.

      But it is easy to do it, and they have a guide too.

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