We usually associate testing with PPC and CRO. It’s not so common to bring a testing mentality in our SEO efforts.
In the past, it made sense to presume that more is better.
The Google algorithm of five years ago appeared to rank sites mostly according to how many links they had and what PR those sites had.
Today you can’t really be sure of anything.
Almost any SEO action that pushes you forward can harm your ranking as well.
Different industries have different criteria, so even if something works for someone else, it might not work for your site.
This is why testing has become more and more important for organic ranking.
I will offer a few experiments that can show if your SEO actions are helping or harming your optimization.
Test 1 – Inner links
This experiment checks whether an inner link improves your ranking.
- Step 1: Choose a page that you want to rank better for a specific keyword.
- Step 2: Look for another page in your site that has some ranking for that keyword, or related keywords to the one you want to optimize.
- Step 3: Add a link to your test page from the second page.
- Step 4: Wait long enough for Google to crawl your site.
- Step 5: Remove the link and wait for Google to crawl the site again.
Now check the difference in ranking before and after the link was added and estimate the link’s contribution.
Test 2 – Title keywords
Titles and headlines have the most effect of any on-page elements on your site ranking.
They might not affect your Google ranking but they can definitely uplift your click rate and page visits from Google organic searches.
The way to test them is simple.
- Step 1: Select a page that has reasonably good ranking but not so much traffic.
- Step 2: Check the keyword that’s targeted in the title.
- Step 3: With the Google keyword planner or similar tools, check for an alternative keyword that seems to be more popular.
- Step 4: Replace the title and heading with the more popular keywords.
For example, change “<title> Hotel L.A </title>” to “<title> Hotel near L.A </title>”.
Test it for a few weeks and see if there is a change in traffic.
Test 3 – Test related keywords
Google’s algorithm prefers pages that have their primary keywords supported by related keywords.
The optimum density of the related keywords and their type is a mystery. Experiment with adding related keywords to your pages and see if it improves your ranking.
It’s important to say that related keywords are not necessarily synonymous or long-tail versions.
Google’s way of deciding if a word is related is called LSI, or Latent Semantic Indexing. LSI keywords are semantically related to your primary keyword.
Try this experiment:
- Step 1: Choose a page you want to optimize for specific keywords.
- Step 2: Use tools such as those mentioned above, and come with a list of related keywords.
- Step 3: Add them skillfully to your page.
- Step 4: Test for ranking improvements.
All serious marketers should test their SEO. It's not only me who's saying it, it's the experts.
Testing is a great way to ensure your site’s SEO health. It gives you real-time feedback on how well your optimization is working.