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SEO testing basics: What it is, how to execute it properly, and why you need it

by | Apr 6, 2022 | Analysis, Public Relations

The modern world of online content gets more saturated by the minute. In this reality, the ability to ensure that your voice is heard above the rest of the crowd is something that all content marketers, bloggers, and website owners are constantly seeking.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is seen as the litmus test for the success or not of modern-day content. How highly you rank on search engines like Google or Bing is determined by your site’s visibility, or customers’ ease in finding your content.

Having a hold on the fluctuations in your SEO ranking is vital in optimizing this key area. And testing your SEO, or the effectiveness of your SEO proposal template, is one of the most efficient ways in which you can do this. In this guide, we’re going to take a look at exactly what SEO testing is, why you should bother getting on board with it, and share some key tips on running efficient SEO tests.

What is SEO testing?

Firstly, we need to ensure the term that is the subject of this piece is properly understood. It’s pointless to look at the whys and wherefores of any subject if the topic of discussion itself isn’t clearly grasped. For example, explaining why you should look for continuous integration in DevOps without first answering the question “What does CI mean?” only leads to confusion further down the line.

SEO testing basics: What it is, how to execute it properly, and why you need it

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Quite simply, SEO Testing refers to the practice of measuring the impact that a change you make to a page or site has. As we can see on the infographic above, this kind of testing is pivotal to the start of your SEO journey. This impact concerns the level of organic search engine traffic it generates.

SEO testing involves analyzing features such as impressions, positioning, and click-through rates to build a picture of overall SEO health. And it can be used in various ways to assess different parts of your site. SEO Testing can be executed on individual pages or sections of a site, two entirely different groups of pages, a continually tracked group of pages, and many more.

Now that we’ve covered what SEO testing is, let’s take a look at why you should bother running such tests.

Why you should run SEO tests

An oft-recounted saying suggests that there are “lies, damned lies, and statistics”. It’s a turn of phrase that is used to delegitimize analytics or statistical data as a means of persuasive argument.

SEO testing basics: What it is, how to execute it properly, and why you need it

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And, in the world of Mark Twain—who is one of the notable folk identified as having coined it—it was probably true. But, great author though he may have been, Twain never managed an online business. And so his need for SEO testing was non-existent.

As someone who does manage an online presence, statistics are one of your best friends. They show you what works, what doesn’t, and give you the basis for any great change or expansion you seek to make. They offer both insight and justification for any future moves, which is why SEO testing—which provides definitive data—is so useful.

If we take Google as just one example—the most widely-used search engine, after all—the algorithm it uses to decide rankings is impenetrable.

By nature, it is a layered, complex system that uses some 200+ ranking factors to decide the fate of any post or site it links to. So, cheating or gaming the system isn’t an option. And, if you spend long enough researching this area, you’ll find suggestions of all varieties, some even contradicting others, on Google Analytics tips and how to get ahead in the SEO game.

What SEO testing allows you to see is what works for you. Running an SEO test after a change is made to a site gives you as clear an indication as it is possible to get on whether or not something is working, concerning your SEO.

So, we’ve illustrated what SEO testing is, and why it’s worthwhile. Now, let’s share a couple of key tips to run the most effective SEO tests you can.

Tips for running effective SEO tests

1. Keep things simple

It pays not to overcomplicate something so fundamental to the strategy that you’ll take going forward. When production testing anything, or even coming up with a production testing definition, making simple changes and then testing their impact is the best way to go. By trying to run complex tests, or do too many things at once, you risk missing out on the clear picture that SEO testing is intended to provide.

Ensuring that you’re only testing one thing at  a time is a fundamental principle of SEO testing. This is because making more than one change to the site throws the causality of any impact into question.

SEO testing basics: What it is, how to execute it properly, and why you need it

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2. Don’t start from scratch if you don’t need to

Whilst it can feel like a nice, clean break to burn everything to the ground and start again from scratch, this approach means that you could miss out on already successful elements of your site. If you run a mobile app and you want to make updates to it, you’ll likely consult mobile app testing tutorials instead of coding a brand new app from scratch—SEO testing is the same.

By running tests on the things that are already working for you, you can gain a greater understanding of any changes you make. Pages getting thousands of impressions a day are more likely to highlight positive or negative changes in a test than those getting ten impressions in the same time.

3. Have a plan

It seems obvious, but a lot of people see SEO testing, or SEO in general, as a fix-all that they don’t have to actively engage with once up and running. Much like meeting AI and other automated tech solutions, it still requires some human input in order to deliver the desired results.

Being prepared to respond to SEO testing results for which metric you want to improve and why, makes the SEO testing process easier, and clearer, more tangible results are produced.

SEO testing basics covered!

In this article, we’ve highlighted what SEO Testing is, and why you should do it. We’ve also shared some key, fundamental tips that should be the foundations for any success you have in this area.

SEO is the lifeblood of any online business, and website managers/owners should always be looking to improve their ranking in any legal way possible. By testing regularly and clearly, you are well-positioned to succeed in this increasingly digital-centric, content-led world.

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Kate Priestman
Kate Priestman is the Head of Marketing at Global App Testing, a trusted and leading end-to-end functional testing solution for QA challenges. Kate has over 8 years of experience in the field of marketing, helping brands achieve exceptional growth. She has extensive knowledge on brand development, lead and demand generation, and marketing strategy — driving business impact at its best. Kate has also written for sites such as VMBlog and Angelhack. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.

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