7 Key SEO Tests You Aren't Doing But Can Totally Skyrocket Your Rankings
Every business wants to increase their search engine rankings, and that's a good thing especially given that 93 percent of online experiences begin with a search engine. But how many businesses are actually getting results?
It turns out Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is becoming more and more competitive by the day, and as a business, if you want to get results off of it, you'd have to up your game.In fact, one recent study reported that 82 percent of marketers say the effectiveness of SEO is on the rise and so they are making it a top priority to improve their SEO and grow their organic presence.The question now is, how can you compete effectively?
The answer: don't just do SEO, do the right SEO.
SEO is a proven tactic for boosting your rankings, increasing your organic traffic, and ultimately building your business. However, it's one thing to do SEO and it's another to do the right SEO (the type that's right for your business and gets results). If you look around, you'll find that there are tons of different SEO tactics. And a number of businesses are trying them but not everyone gets results with every tactic they try. Some tactics are effective, others aren't. Some are more effective than others. Some work for one business and not for another.
Why? Because every business is different; each business has its own peculiar needs. So the SEO tactics a business implements should correspond with the business’s needs.
One way to determine which SEO tactics are right for you is to run SEO tests and experiments.
Unlike in marketing techniques like pay-per-click (PPC), testing is often neglected in SEO by marketers. Yet, 57 percent of B2B marketers stated in one survey conducted by HubSpot that SEO generates more leads than any other marketing initiative. Another study reported that seventy to 80 percent of people ignore paid search results, choosing to only click on organic listings. Tech firms love PPC, not necessarily because it's more effective than SEO, but because it is easy to test.
With pay-per-click, you can easily split test elements like ad copy, headlines, color, CTA buttons, landing page structures, and more. Such tests help you fine-tune your strategy and provide you with barefaced, intelligible evidence that your bottom line is getting better. That's not something that's common in SEO.
But here's the rub:
If you do not test and validate your SEO tactics, chances are that you will end up wasting your time, money, and efforts on ineffective, or even counterproductive, tactics. Scientifically-backed tests and experiments are the key to getting results in optimization. So today, we’re going to discuss some key SEO tests and experiments you can perform (and how to run such tests reliably), so you can stop wasting resources and start crushing the competition.
Ready? Let's go in:
SEO Test #1: AMP Test
AMP sounds a bit more like a technical term so let's get that off the way first:
AMP stands for “Accelerated Mobile Pages.” It's a Google-backed project created to be an open standard for any web publisher to have pages load quickly on mobile devices.
In February 2016, Google officially integrated AMP listings into its mobile search results.
In the same 2016, mobile overtook desktop for the first time as the primary device used to access websites. This didn’t come as a huge surprise because, as far back as 2015, Google reported that more searches were conducted on mobile than on any other device category.
StatCounter, an internet usage monitoring firm, reports that as at the end of 2017, the combined traffic from mobile and tablet devices tipped the balance at 56.74 percent (up from 51.3% in December 2016), vs. 43.26 percent for desktop access. Unsurprisingly, this trend will continue to grow, and it'll continue to affect more and more marketing areas, just as it is impacting SEO.
So how EXACTLY does mobile indexing (or AMP) impact SEO?
In December last year, Google made a transition to mobile-first index. Simply put, the search giant has some new rules which favor mobile optimized sites in their rankings. They want to index and rank your site based on the content on your mobile experience, and not your desktop experience as it has done historically.
With that, they'll be able to force businesses to take the “mobile-friendliness trend” seriously. AMP is one attempt at achieving this.Websites that are created with Google AMP are mobile-optimized and they load instantaneously.
Big names like eBay are already creating websites with Google AMP.
Is it working for them and will it work for you?
Well, there’s only one way to find out — testing.
So try to create an AMP version of your website. And then a normal page.
Track the two to see which ranks higher. Whichever one wins, you know that's what works for your website and you can stick with it. With Google prioritizing mobile-friendliness, you might find that AMP ranks better for you, which sort of puts you ahead of the pack, and gets you more customers as study finds that 61 percent of mobile searchers are more likely to contact a local business if they have a mobile-friendly site.
SEO Test #2: Content Pruning Test
One of the most popular advices usually churned out by “marketing gurus” is this:
“Create more content.”
But you know what, more content may not always cut it. Quality content is what kicks butt and skyrockets business.
Don't get this wrong:
There might be cases where more content is needed quite normally, but what we are saying here is that it's also important to pay close attention to quality.
According to Andrey Lipattsev, Search Quality Senior Strategist at Google, high-quality content and link building are the two most important signals used by Google to rank your website for search.
One way to ensure your website provides quality content is simply to create it. Another is to analyze the backlog of your current website for content that's NOT needed and then “prune” it.
The idea behind content pruning is to try to find and remove those pages on your website that are of no or little value to your audience and business. You'd have to analyze and assess the content on your website and get rid of those ones that are outdated or just plain latent.
How does content pruning help SEO?
You see, Google scores each page on your website individually, all of which contributes to your overall domain authority. If you have a lot of pages that are of little value (most websites have thousands or even millions of such pages), that could play down on the overall SEO strength of your website. So test the impact of removing old, unneeded content on your website and watch how your rankings perform. If it goes skyward, you know you've successfully hacked your SEO for good. And remember, removing content does not always mean deleting it, but can simply mean making it to no longer be available to search engines.
Pruning your content for quality becomes even more important when you realize that 72 percent of online marketers consider quality content creation as their most effective SEO tactic.
SEO Test #3: LSI Keywords Test
You'd agree that keywords are an important factor in search engine optimization; and more likely than not, you already have some crammed into your content. But in today's SEO, keywords alone are not enough to claim Google's first page. In other words, today’s well-updated Google doesn’t care how many times you sandwich a keyword into your piece of content. What it does consider similarly to primary keywords is Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords.
LSI keywords refer to the synonyms and closely related words of your main keywords. They help Google know what your page is all about.
Lenovo, iPad, laptop, touch screen, and mobile device are all LSI keywords to the primary keyword “tablet” — your mobile computing device — so Google will only show such relevant results. On the other hand, if a page contains such LSI keywords as medicine, aspirin, pain relief, and treatment, Google will know the primary keyword “tablet” refers to a piece of medicine… not a computing device.
A post on the primary keyword "Windows" should logically have Bill Gates, Microsoft, Windows 7 and so on as mentions.
These are the LSI keywords that Google will use to differentiate your post from content related to “luxury windows locks” or “wooden windows grills.”
LSI keywords are also like long tail keywords and hence you can rank higher with less competition.
For example, Amazon records a hefty 57% of all sales through keywords that are long tail and LSI versions of the primary keyword. This is only because there is less competition and exact buyer intent down there in the LSI zone.
Now, in testing how LSI keywords can impact your rankings, take these steps:
- Step 1: Find a page on your website that's ranking well on Google.
- Step 2: Find relevant LSI keywords (more on this later).
- Step 3: Go into the content and sprinkle in a few of these LSI keywords.
- Step 4: Allow the search engine some time to crawl the page and check how your page does.
If it goes up, then you just found an SEO trick for ramping up your rankings.
So how can you find LSI keywords?
There are some key methods:
First, search for your keyword in Google. Then, scan the page for bold words and phrases that aren’t the keyword you just typed in. Those are your LSI keywords.
Start typing in your primary keyword into the Google search bar and you'll find LSI keywords directly from Google’s suggestions.
Type in your primary keyword and then navigate to the bottom section of the SERP for related searches.
SEO Test #4: Nofollow Links Experimentation
What d’you think of nofollow links? Think they are useless?
There are many reports and case studies on the web that support the impact of nofollow links on, not just traffic, but rankings as well. Maybe if you generated a few nofollow links and tested those, your rankings might just stoke.
How can you run a nofollow link test?
First, find sites that use nofollow links. To do this, you can use the Chrome extension called NoFollow.
When you visit a page with an active nofollow link, the Chrome extension will circle it in a dotted red line.
If that's the website that you want to receive a backlink from, go ahead to generate a backlink from it and keep an eye on your rankings, especially on the specific page that received the backlink.
SEO Test #5: Keyword Intent Experimentation
You know one thing that's true for keywords?
They're not all equal.
Some keywords perform better than others — some receive thousands of searches per month while others receive only a few hundreds, yet, some others receive no traffic at all. Of course, it's important to pick keywords that deliver a good amount of traffic, but that isn’t the only important thing to consider when choosing keywords for your business. Particularly, you need to consider the INTENT behind your keywords. “Keyword intent” deals with what users are actually looking for when they key in keywords?
Depending on your business needs and objectives, one user could be your ideal target audience while the other might have little or nothing to contribute to your overall bottom line even though they keyed in strikingly similar keywords.
Perform a test to find out the intent behind your keywords. To do this, find out the particular keywords that are bringing in customers, leads, and traffic versus those that result in negatives like bounce rates.Once you discover the keywords with the best intent, home in on them to optimize your results.
SEO Test #6: Social Signals Test
Millions of businesses around the world use social media one way or another.
Some use it as a powerful tool for building an engaged community around their brand, others see it as a tool for driving leads, traffic, and sales. But did you know that social media can also contribute to how well your website ranks? Well, it can! Google has over 200 ranking factors, and social signals are one of the most important ones.
Social signals refer to a webpage's collective shares, likes and overall social media visibility as perceived by search engines.
If you're able to create consistent social signals for your website, Google will recognize it and rank your site higher. It's that simple. You might ask, why does Google even give a care about social media activities?
The thing is, your activity or inactivity on social media serves as a signal for Google to know whether or not you are active online beyond simply keeping your website updated. Google has a sort of disliking for inactiveness. It wants your entire business (not just some forgotten website) to be active online. Producing consistent social signals is an effective way to show them that you’re active and updated. This doesn’t have to be complicated, at all. Something as easy as publishing one post a day on the major social networks can work the magic.
But you don't have to stop there. How about you experiment with increasing the amount of posts that you put out on social media for a couple of weeks?
SEO Test #7: Title Tags and Meta Descriptions Experimentation
You probably already know that you need to create title tags and meta descriptions for your blog posts and website pages, right? But here's what you may not know:
Title tags and meta descriptions can seriously affect your search engine rankings.
How, you ask?
First, the approach is not to use them as a direct ranking factor (although they could be). The idea behind this test is to create title tags and meta descriptions that are compelling enough for people to actually click on.
The reason is this:
The more compelling your title tags and meta descriptions are, the more people who will click on your result on Google. And the more people who click on your result on Google, the better your ranking will be.
Google rewards results that receive more clicks by moving it higher.
For example, marketer A has a piece of content that's ranked #1 on Google and marketer B’s content ranks #2. If users keep clicking on marketer B’s content (because it has a more compelling title tag and meta description), Google will move marketer B’s content to #1 because the search engine thinks users prefer marketer B’s content to that of marketer A.
See? The more clicks you receive to your website, the higher position you gain.
At SmallSEOTools.com, we often advise our readers to treat their title tags and meta descriptions as sales copy — you're trying to “sell” people your result on Google instead of them clicking on someone else’s. So try an experiment on different title tags and meta descriptions to see which ones receive the most clicks. Once you find your sweet spot, stick with it.
How to run a worthwhile SEO test?
We've now provided you with seven key SEO tests you can try in your business. But to be effective at it, you need to know exactly how to run reliable tests. While there are numerous approaches to experimentation, A/B testing is the most common method for conducting tests and measuring results when it comes to SEO (and marketing in general).
A/B testing works by you setting up two different variations, A vs. B, at the same time (example, AMP page vs. a normal page) and tracking to see which one performs better.
This makes it easy to make practical assumptions and accurately determine if one page performs better than another.
Most people try testing by comparing the results of a page one month and that same page the next month. That's a wrong approach and the problem with that is this:
Timing is key in testing.
Different times produces different results. So if you run the pages at different times, then the difference in performance might not be because one page was better than the other but that one month simply saw more traffic.
Another thing is that a test you can bet on must follow the scientific method of experimentation. This method is usually made up of six parts:
- Questioning: where you ask a question that requires an inerrant answer.
- Hypothesis: where you make a tentative assumption to draw out and test its logical or empirical consequences.
- Experimentation: where you remove variables and run the experiment.
- Data collection: where you collect your data.
- Analysis: where you analyze the collected data.
- Reporting: where you report your results.
In running your SEO tests, ensure that you follow these systematic approach to arrive at a result.
That's only when you can consider your test reliable and good for making changes based on the results.
First page rankings not only give you more clicks, you also get more traffic, leads, and customers. And yes, more revenue. But you can only get there if you do SEO right. And to do SEO right, it's important you run SEO tests (as opposed to doing SEO blindly). This can help you find which SEO tactics work for your business and which ones to cut off.
With that, you can easily figure out how to navigate your way to position #1.
For your website, some of the tests and experiments shared above will work and some may not.
Once tested, concentrate on the ones that work for you and use them to create an SEO strategy that'll help you realize your business objectives.