SEO testing – 9 ideas to improve your websiteReading Time: 4 minutes
It can be both risky and expensive to implement a SEO change across your entire site, so its important you evaluate the impact of changes before committing to them. Using SEO testing can help you do this, and in this our latest blog we explore 9 testing ideas that you can use to ensure changes improve your websites SEO.
The following 9 SEO tests cover a variety of SEO variables – all of which can help improve your SEO (although results are likely to vary).
1. Experiment with meta titles and meta tag formats
Among the most popular and useful SEO tests, meta titles, and meta tags form the first impression your site gives to searchers, making their optimisation crucial.
Remember, you’re not just writing for search engines. You want to rewrite meta titles and meta tags to be more click-worthy. Done right, and searchers may be more likely to select your page, even if it’s not the top result. The ensuing traffic boost may then lead to an increase in rankings as well.
Changing their format makes them more direct and compelling. Adding special characters like parentheticals, brackets, and em dashes, making them stand out from the rest of the results.
2. Change keyword-focused titles to narratively pleasing titles
Title tags are the single-most-important variable in SEO rankings, trailed by sub headers and body copy, the URL, and the meta descriptions. As such, headline tests are among the most impactful SEO testing experiments possible. How should you change your meta titles? People understand stories on a deep level. Try more story-centric headlines to attract searchers’ attention better; any increased traffic from them can lead to higher rankings, creating a snowball effect.
3. Place or remove external links
For a range of reasons, removing links may benefit your site. It might keep users on your site, remove associations to low-ranked sites, or it may make your site stand out better. On the other hand, including more highly-ranked resources that your readers find useful may make your pages more valuable, boosting your authority in Google’s eyes.
4. Play with social buttons and comments
There’s reason to believe that comments and social share buttons may be taking a toll on your site. Pages, without any comments or shares, or very few, may signal a lack of credibility to searchers, thus decreasing their likelihood to share or comment, creating a negative feedback loop.
5. Diversity of content
Google rewards sites that feature a diverse array of multimedia. Digital publishers, on the other hand, sometimes struggle sourcing and incorporating relevant and compelling visual elements.
After HubSpot optimized its content catalog, it saw monthly organic searches rise an average of 106%.
However, merely including more visual content may not get you the results you’re looking for. Such content should be relevant and add true value for those looking for specific answers to their search queries.
6. Add or restructure internal links
Internal links are a great way to help search engines understand the hierarchy of your content. That’s just one of the reasons why 42% of SEO experts spend so much time building internal and external links.
While adding relevant internal links willy nilly is better than adding no links at all, you should apply some methodology here. Cornerstone structure, also known as the concept of pillar content, is a highly effective means of arranging your content’s subject matter in an organized, intuitive manner.
Create pillar pages that broadly speak to a subject and interlink them with content that delves further into the specifics. SEO testing experts recommend integrating two to five internal links per page. If your pages already use cornerstone structure, test by reorganizing the main navigation or featuring content pillars on your homepage.
7. Perform significant content upgrades
Content is king. When all else fails, or when pages don’t perform well enough to conduct other tests, it’s time to upgrade core content. Identify pages that perform poorly among the metrics Google values most highly:
- Time on site
- Pages per session
- Bounce rate
Poor performance in these measures demonstrates that visitors to your site aren’t finding information relevant to their search. It’s an excellent opportunity to add content that may better answer a searcher’s questions and make pages more accessible for consumption.
- Enhance scalability and readability
- Add new sections that answer a broader range of questions
- Expand pages to more comprehensively cover your subject matter
- Insert table of contents
- Insert an internal link structure to join together topics that are alike
Note that the optimal blog post length is between 1,000 and 1,500; bringing shorter pages into this range is in your best interest.
8. Remove bold tags
Much like the pre-penguin keyword stuffing of days past, it appears the gods at Google no longer smile upon <strong> tags either.
Some SEO tests appear to show that bolding keywords causes bad rankings. If you already have a habit of artificially strengthening content with such tags, now might be a great time to see what happens once they’re removed.
9. Modify URL structure by removing dates
URLs can provide significant search indexing benefits, provided they’re concise and contain clear keywords. While the former best practices have been known, SEO experts have recently started suggesting the dates often structured into URLs may be getting in the way of better indexing.
The theory behind this one is similar to that of share tags and comments. Google and users compare dates on their search results and may naturally favour newer ones, regardless of whether such content is evergreen.
Not all content is evergreen, though. For pages that have timely relevance, update them with new facts and updated context. Note: Should you try this method, you’ll first need to update your permalinks to avoid breaking links.
The point of SEO testing isn’t exclusively about raising rankings and getting more clicks. It’s about gaining concrete knowledge of how audiences interpret your content, how well you respond to their curiosity, and what the web’s largest gateway values. Need help? Contact us today.