As a business owner, you know that to stay ahead of the competition, you must be willing to try new things. In the world of SEO, this means being open to testing out new methodologies.
It was a pleasure to be interviewed by James Schramko and talk about the SEO testing you can try to improve your search engine ranking.
The importance of SEO and how it has changed over the years
SEO, even before, is one of the most considered tactics to rank websites.
The recent switch to a new website has given James and his team a chance to step back and take a look at their SEO strategy as a whole. And it turns out that you can make this work as long as the right steps are taken.
However, SEO is a constantly-changing field. That means the way you did things ten years ago might not work today, and vice versa!
So, you look for ways to adapt to the changes in the algorithm and framework you use.
Why you should test your SEO tactics
Just because something has been around long doesn’t mean it’s always the best practice. The internet is full of YouTube videos telling you how to do SEO, but what they all have in common are outdated methods that won’t work anymore.
That’s why doing SEO testing is a plus. This could mean you sometimes need to step out of your comfort zone and experiment.
Common issues in SEO testing
Most people believe that testing is not the best thing to do. In fact, they have these opinions in mind, which Gert has explained with:
- When it comes to testing, people want the same thing as they did with paid ads. This is to make sure this is something that will work before investing too much time and money into making an SEO campaign happen.
- Most people know the importance of having multiple copy versions or images on hand in case one stops working (as well as keywords). But many still limit themselves strictly to best practices from 10 years ago without updating them since newer information became available.
Overall, it’s always recommended to be prepared for the unexpected regarding SEO testing. You never know what Google might do with it if you’re not controlling the search engine’s results page (SERP).
And that means having a proven method for tracking how things change, which we’ll talk about next!
Will SEO testing work for everyone?
There are various methods out there, but not all are right for you and others.
Here’s an example:
Coordinating with Research and Development
One key to James’s team’s success is coordinating with R&D.
Some SEO agencies don’t have a paid in-house R&D team. Others may just read stuff on forums, or they might get a couple of case studies that get published by authors.
But, in any case, you need an R&D if:
- You plan to stay ahead of the competition
- You want to improve your SEO
- You want to get off the plateau that inevitably you get to
- You get some quick wins, but then it sort of levels out.
According to Gert, you might have a big competitor. But, what’s working for them isn’t necessarily something you can extract and implement to your site.
Test in a safe space with a minimized risk
Something that you have seen working before, either on your test site or on our R&D test sites.
For example, Gert and his team work with roughly 30 to 40 clients every moment. And what gives them a lot of insights into what can work in different industries. Then they see something that doesn’t work at all.
However, it’s essential to recognize that wherever you are, there is a chance that you’re trying to apply something or gain success with something that’s just not the right fit for your particular situation.
What kind of gains have you seen occur while testing experimentation?
To summarize, inside SEO Leverage, Gert provides an app for your business that is jam-packed with features and functions.
Their goal as advisors is to help grow by providing data on what matters in digital marketing so our clients can see results quickly. These gains come from just 5% of the work necessary within Google Analytics or even worse.
Just a week they noticed that one of their lead magnets was not converting at the rate expected on a high-traffic site. To test whether changing these elements might improve conversion rates, they created an experiment by running tests.
- They tested changing their auto-response to an opt-in form, which resulted in higher conversions on a high-traffic site than before because it was more personalized.
- They’re trying opt-ins by using general opt-ins or checklists; however, whenever possible, Gert would recommend taking advantage of customization options so that everyone gets something unique and valuable.
How structuring your content can have big wins
Gert and his team learned that it’s essential for Google to have a clear structure in their content. They also found out which strategies work best when they’re looking at specific URL samples, like the one where they picked URLs converting well but not getting enough traffic.
On the other hand, when Gert’s team made a slight change to how articles are started, not only did they cue the topic but mapped out what was going on. They got an impressive 22% gain within just two weeks.
The truth is, Google doesn’t just want to show you the answers at the bottom of your page; they also care about how people start their search. They do this by reading from the top-down and interpreting whether it’s worth buying or not based on qualifications like mobile-first indexing.
Does the region have an impact on SEO?
The location of your listeners can make a world of difference when it comes to podcasting.
For example, James found out that region affects where they live and if you want them based on what services or products they’ve purchased from yourself in the past. Ans also knowing their preferred regions will be necessary for targeting those specific audiences with ads targeted just as well by advertisers looking at map locations.
Furthermore, Google has been experimenting with single ranking pages for multiple keywords, but it’s unclear if this will work. Regardless of whether you use a general or specific keyword phrase to rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs), there are still ways that an individual landing page could be optimized more effectively.
This is to make the visitor feel special while viewing your website content - which also helps promote conversions. You give Google what they want, not what they kind of like.
Why taking some of the risks out of your testing matter
Gert recommends that you test your ideas on a site where it has been seen working before.
For instance, if you are developing an SEO strategy for new websites in the automotive industry and want to avoid wasting time testing something that won’t work, then having one specific auto-related website might be helpful.
To ensure you are getting the most out of your campaign, each test site must have at least four weeks’ worth of data. This will allow Google time to crawl and index all pages on these different URLs before testing new ideas with an experiment group. Plus, ensure any changes can take effect globally across all users’ devices.
It is essential to constantly test but have the patience and curiosity that comes with waiting for results. You see an improvement after expanding your sample size - which may lead to implementing more long-term changes to make them stick around.
Are some testing experiments reversible?
Some experiments, like those related to link building, can damage a site if done wrong. But there are certain things you could do on-site that would drop your ranking in Google while making it more competitive afterward. It’s like when website masters turn their pages’ meta tags from noindex/nofollow Settings before switching them back after completion.
Gert agrees that it’s possible to reverse specific changes on your site for your website performance and ranking with Google. But he believes there are limitations as well.
If someone runs an experiment by changing 10 URLs, they may not see any improvement or worse rankings when all of their hard work goes down the drain because something went wrong during implementation time. However, if you want to make sure your changes go smoothly, it’s best not just do them on a small sample set.
In a nutshell: does switching domains work for James?
So far, the switch to this older domain seems like it’s been working out really well for James. It also has more searches than its original one, and people seem happier when they land on that page rather than seeing an advertisement or some other distraction in their search results.
James had a lot of experience with his old website, so when it came time to make changes for the new one, he knew what was expected. He changed just enough components on James’s site - like switching from an import license to private domain status- without sacrificing all that Google loved about its prior appearance in search engine rankings.
Here are other things to remember:
- When you think about changing your domain name, be sure that the new one is relevant and will help with search engine rankings.
- If possible, try to keep some of the keywords from previous pages as they may still show up in Google searches even though their link juice has run down. Unless this was an intentional move for website owners who want more organic traffic through keyword benchmarking tools like SEO consultants, use daily.
- Overall, an expert team can make all the difference when trying to optimize your website. Having someone guide you through the process makes everything much easier and less stressful!
SEO is a highly competitive space. Without the proper skills in testing and knowledge of SEO, you may end up with little to no success in ranking.