Have you ever felt like you were in the dark when making SEO-related changes to your website? You can try to make sense of it without data, but what if you could turn on the lights?
Enter SEO experimentation. SEO experiments are a great way to illuminate what works and what doesn’t regarding SEO. They’re also an excellent way to build confidence in your own abilities to make decisions based on data. This helps you develop a repeatable process for optimizing content.
This guide will get you started with SEO experimentation and give you a framework for running your own experiments. We’ll cover what SEO experiments are, why they’re important, and how to run them effectively.
What is SEO experimentation?
SEO experimentation is exactly what it sounds like. It is the process of testing website changes for different SEO-related variables and measuring their impact on SERP rankings and user traffic. SEO experimentation is a broad term that encompasses a wide array of different kinds of testing. SEO experimentation aims to ensure that any changes made to a site are beneficial to that site’s SEO goals.
What are the benefits of SEO experimentation?
Experimenting with SEO lets you determine the necessary changes to help your website achieve its goals. Running accurate and well-planned site tests can provide invaluable insight into where you should focus your optimization efforts to achieve the best results for your business.
This can be helpful for both novice and experienced SEOs, as it allows you to make informed decisions about how best to proceed with your website. Another benefit of SEO experimentation is that it allows you to measure the impact of changes made on a site’s SERP rankings and user traffic.
How do you successfully run an SEO experiment?
Research Your Opportunities
Before running SEO experiments, you’ll need to identify your site’s opportunities for growth. This includes auditing your site, and taking a critical look at where it can be better optimized for SERPs.
Form a Hypothesis
Your next step includes making a hypothesis based on your research and observations. This hypothesis will form the framework for your experimentation. It’s important to remember that while a hypothesis is an educated guess, it’s still a guess and must be tested to be proved or disproved. You can make an educated guess that updating your site structure will improve your site rankings, but you can never know for sure until you run the experiment.
Isolate Variables and Run the Experiment
So, you’ve researched where your site could improve, and formed a hypothesis as to how to do that. Congratulations! You’re finally ready to run site testing. When you’re testing a site for SEO purposes, its imperative to ensure that you only test for one variable at a time. This means that if you have multiple opportunities for improvement, you’ll have to isolate each one and test it separately to ensure that your data set is accurate.
Collect and Analyze Your Data
This process may look different depending on what you’re testing your site for. The important thing to remember is that you want to collect, analyze, and report accurate information. You can guarantee this by recording your research process, all of the variables tested, and the ranking results of each test.
Report Your Results
Once you’ve collected and analyzed your separate data sets, you can report the results of your experimentation. This is an excellent time to start thinking about how to take advantage of the opportunities presented on your site and what actionable steps can be taken to optimize it further.
What are some examples of SEO experiments to try?
The possibilities are endless, but here are a few ideas to get you started:
A/B Split Testing
A/B split testing is a popular form of experimentation that will allow you to compare two versions of a page to see which one performs better under certain conditions. You can apply this strategy to anything from the color scheme used for your call-to-action button down to individual elements like headlines and images on blog posts.
Updating Title Tags with Additional Keywords
Updating your title tags is an easy way to experiment with different keywords you want to rank for. Use a keyword planner tool or extension to find relevant, high-traffic search terms. Then test various versions of your tag on similar pages on the website that are closely-related to the topic matter.
Create Different Headlines for Social Media and SEO
A site test we recommend is to test separate headlines for social media and search engines. This can be extremely helpful in increasing your site visibility because social media platforms and SERPs like google and bing use different algorithms. Some headlines might rank well for search results but fail to catch readers’ attention when shared on social media—and vice versa.
Testing for this means creating a unique headline for each platform, but not so different that it’s not recognizable as the same article. The goal is to have shareable content on social media while still being optimized for search engines.
Let Us Be Your SEO Experimentation Guide
It goes without saying that the possibilities for SEO experimentation are limitless. You can test anything from your site URLs to your content quality and anything in between. The most important thing is to have a plan and know what you’re testing before you start. If you don’t know exactly what you want to test, it will be challenging to determine whether your experiment was successful.
If you don’t know where to start, let us guide the way! Our team of experienced professionals offer SEO consultations that can help give you an idea of where to start. If you’d like to learn more, feel free to contact one of our experts to request a free audit.