How to Test Your SEO With Rigor
Search engine optimization (SEO) is an art as well as a science. As with any scientific discipline, it requires rigor. The results need to be reproducible, and you have to take an experimental approach — so not too many variables are changed at once. Otherwise, you won’t be able to tell which changes were responsible for the results.
You can glean a lot about SEO best practices, latest trends and tactics from SEO blogs, forums and e-books. But it can be hard to separate the wheat from the chaff, to know with any degree of certainty that a claim will hold true. That’s where the testing of your SEO comes in. Prove what works and what doesn’t.
Unlike multivariate testing for optimizing conversion rates, where many experiments can be run parallel, SEO testing requires a serial approach. Everything must filter through Google before the impact can be gauged. This is made more difficult by the fact that there’s a lag between making changes and having the revised pages get spidered, as well as another lag while the spidered content makes it into the index and onto the search engine results pages (SERPs). On top of that, the results delivered depend on the search history of the user and the Google data center accessed.
An experimental approach to SEO: You have a product page with a particular ranking in Google for a specific search term, and you want to improve the ranking and resultant traffic. Rather than applying a number of different SEO tactics at once, start varying things one at a time.
1. Tweak just the title tag and see what happens.
2. Continue making further revisions to the title tag in multiple iterations until the data shows that the tag truly is optimal.
3. Then move on to the headline, tweaking that and nothing else.
4. Now, watch what happens. Optimize it in multiple iterations.
5. Then move on the intro copy, then the breadcrumb navigation, and so on.