If you do any kind of content marketing, you have probably heard about the importance of SEO, which stands for search engine optimization. But how do you know if your SEO efforts are working? This is where SEO testing comes in. Now, you’re probably asking, “What is SEO testing?” In this article, you will learn the answer to the question, “What is SEO testing?” You’ll also learn about SEO experimentation and how to measure SEO to find the techniques that search engine algorithms will push to the top of search engine results pages.
So, what is SEO testing? SEO testing is the process of tracking how a change you make in your SEO technique changes the amount of organic search traffic your website or content receives. Search engine optimization itself is the process of changing aspects of your website to increase search engine rankings and draw more users to your website as a result. SEO testing makes sure that your efforts are doing what they are supposed to. For example, you might change the layout of your website in an attempt to make browsing the site more intuitive or you might try a different keyword technique. SEO testing will let you see which changes are working and which ones are not.
It’s important to note that SEO is not an exact science. There are SEO staples like keywords, linking, and content organization that are known to boost your search engine page rank, but there is no way to tell if search engine algorithms, like Google’s algorithms, will pick up on your SEO in the way you intend. As such, some SEO experimentation is needed to find the best results.
The first step to answering, “What is SEO testing,” is to understand how to conduct an SEO experiment. After all, what is SEO testing if not just an experiment at its core?
Google’s search engine algorithms are a bit of a mystery. Multiple algorithms are informed by multiple other algorithms to rank every page on the internet. There are over 200 ranking factors that might be different depending on what your content is about. Pinpointing exactly what you need to do to get your page at the top of the search results page is no easy feat. SEO experimentation will take some time, but in the end, you should have a good idea about what you need to do to rank your content higher on Google’s search engine results pages.
Create a Hypothesis
Now we are going to take you back to your middle school science class and talk a little bit about the scientific method. Like any good experiment, SEO experimentation requires that you have an expectation and perform an experiment to test whether or not your expectation is correct. This is called your hypothesis. For SEO experimentation, you could hypothesize that increasing the length of your keywords will increase your organic traffic. The proceeding SEO experimentation will provide you with data that once analyzed will either prove you right or prove you wrong.
Test One Change at a Time
To begin your SEO testing experiment, you should roll out a single change at a time. If you try too much at once, you will have no way of knowing which change or changes had positive effects and which changes had negative effects. Once you roll out a change, you will need to measure the success of the change. How you measure the success of your SEO will depend on your goals. An increase in organic traffic to your website is the usual metric that you will want to monitor.
If the single change was a success, you can roll it out to other pages. If it was unsuccessful, in that you see either a decrease or no meaningful increase in organic traffic, you should not implement the change on other pages and try something new. Repeat this process every time you implement a new change. Implementing changes one at a time might seem tedious, but in the end, sorting the successful changes from the unsuccessful changes will be a lot easier.
Shape Your SEO Testing to What You are Optimizing For
It is important to note that not all SEO techniques will work for different content. As stated earlier, Google may have different ranking factors for different topics. For example, medical content will have different ranking factors from an accounting blog entry. Likewise, a video will need to be optimized differently than an infographic. As such, the techniques you choose to experiment with will likely differ. Do some research to get some ideas and do not be afraid to try something new. SEO experimentation is all about finding what works and what does not. You will not ruin your entire website by trying a new technique that does not work out.
Use Content with Enough Impressions
For SEO testing purposes, you will want to conduct your experiment using content that has a significant amount of impressions. If a keyword or page gets a very limited amount of traffic per month, your results will not be statistically significant. While the purpose of SEO is to increase search engine rankings, it is not useful if organic traffic from new people does not also increase.
Set a Test Duration
Set a timeline that dictates how long your SEO experiment will take. There is no set time, but you need to run the test long enough to collect enough data to draw accurate conclusions. A good rule to follow when deciding how long to run an experiment is that testing for page titles and meta descriptions should take at least two weeks, content improvement tests should take four weeks, and tests for new links should take six weeks.
Below are some examples of SEO experiments you can try. Do not limit yourself to these few examples as there are many more that could make your SEO much more effective.
While a keyword might be popular, that does not mean it will be the right choice for your business. The intent of the searcher behind a keyword might not always be clear. As such, you will need to experiment to see if those using that popular keyword are looking for content like yours.
Test Meta Descriptions and Title Tags
The more compelling the title tag and meta description, the better. But how do you know if your title tags and meta descriptions are compelling? Run SEO tests to see which title tags and meta descriptions receive the most attention.
Updating Old Content
Recent content is more likely to attract the attention of Google’s algorithms. Update outdated information and include important new information. This is likely to give you a boost in traffic on its own, but experiment a bit to see how you need to update your old content to get the best result.
How to Measure SEO
Now that you know how to answer, “What is SEO testing,” and know how to conduct an SEO experiment, you are probably wondering how to measure SEO to find which techniques are the most effective.
Before you measure your SEO, you need to define your goals. What do you want to achieve from this change in SEO? Whether or not this change helps you achieve your goal will define success. Do you want to increase your conversion rate? Do you want to decrease your bounce rate? The more specific your goal is, the easier it will be to tell if your SEO helped you achieve it.
Now that you know what you are looking for, you need a way to keep track of collected data. An important part of measuring SEO is keeping track of data. You can either manually track data using a spreadsheet such as Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets or use an automated tool. Many people already have Excel and Google Sheets is free, so all you need to do is set up a Google account. But it is easy to make mistakes and takes a lot of time when you do things manually. Automatic tracking programs can cut out much of the human error and the time commitment, but most cost money. Google Analytics, though, is free. This is a great tool to help you measure your SEO. Depending on the test, the number of tests you are running at one time, and how much data you are dealing with, manually tracking data is doable.
Google Analytics makes it easy to track your website’s analytics. It is a popular program used by many small businesses, blogs, and other websites to track the success of their websites through many valuable metrics.
For example, an increase in organic search traffic is the goal of many SEO tests. To see this metric over time in Google Analytics, open Channel Groupings and then click on Acquisition, All Traffic, and then Channels. A page with all of your sources of traffic will pop up. Since you want to track organic search traffic, you will click on Organic Search. Google Analytics will give you a detailed report on organic search traffic. If you want the same detail on a different metric, all you need to do is switch to your desired metric.
Can you answer the question, “What is SEO testing?” Now that you know the answer, you should start putting together a plan to implement your SEO experiment. What is SEO testing if not a way to find what works for your business’s website? Find what works and what does not with Google’s algorithms so you can increase your search engine rankings and reach your business goals.
- What is search engine optimization?
- What are Google algorithms?
- How do I create an SEO experiment?
- What should I use to measure my SEO?
- How do I measure SEO experiment results?