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  • SEO
  • Mar 18,2020
  • selena

How to Decide What SEO Tests to Run

If you’re a marketer, then you know that the most important acronym is ABT: Always Be Testing.

Most marketing people apply the ABT concept to advertising and content creation, but forget to use it when it comes to SEO. Why? Because it’s hard.

With Google Ads, you know right away which versions of your ads increase clicks or conversions, and then you can go all-in on the ones that are working.

With SEO, however, it can take months to determine whether a test was successful or not. Plus, how you even define success isn’t always cut and dry. Is it moving from the #10 spot to #7? Or is it a failure if you’re not at #1?

SEO testing is important, especially if you create a large volume of content. There are factors both big and small that can have a huge impact on your organic traffic — and the more you optimize them, the more potential customers you’ll get.

We made a list of the most important SEO tests that marketers should consider running, along with when and how to conduct each one. Read on to see which ones make sense for growing your business through search!

Related Content: Why You Should Run SEO Tests

#1: Expand the Length of Your Content

Longer, more comprehensive content that gives a complete answer to a search query is the content that Google ranks highest in the SERPs.

When to Test It

You have shorter content and the first page of Google’s search results for your target keyword features content that is longer than yours. 

How to Test It

Use a tool like SEMrush to identify pages that rank for a lot of keywords but don’t appear on the first page of the SERPs and expand them to 2,000+ words.

If you have several articles on the same topic, you can combine them into a single comprehensive guide, or pillar content. See if there is any improvement in your ranking after a month. If so, expand other pages.

#2: Try to Get Ranked Zero

Rank Zero” is Google’s Featured Snippet spot, the box at the top of the SERPs that contains text and/or images and has a succinct answer to a long-tail query. Being positioned in the spot makes it more likely that you’ll be the top — aka “only” — result for voice search.

When to Test It

You rank in the top 10 for a keyword that doesn’t have a featured snippet in the SERPs.

How to Test It

Make sure that the title tag of your page clearly asks the question in the search query, and then answer it in 40-60 words. It may take a few months, but if your pages are fully optimized for Google, you should eventually land in the top spot. 

#3: Get a Local Business Listing

This isn’t really a test so much as a necessity for any business, but it does help tremendously with SEO.

You want as many of the first page results for queries about your brand to be owned by you as possible so you can control the messaging — and Google My Business listings take up a good chunk of real estate. Plus, it will optimize your business for “near me” searches.

When to Test It

You don’t have one, or the information is out-of-date.

How to Test It

Claim your Google My Business listing to get your business displayed in search results like this:

Also, stay on top of reviews — respond to both negative and positive ones in a timely fashion.

Related Content: The Kick-Ass Guide to Increase Customer Reviews for Your Online Store

#4: Fix Your Page Speed

More than half of all web traffic now comes from mobile, and 53% of users will abandon a site that takes more than three seconds to load. Page speed can have a huge impact on your Google rankings and your conversion rate.

When to Test It

Everyone should test their loading speed, and if it isn’t up to snuff, optimize your pages and see how it impacts search rankings.

How to Test It

Google PageSpeed Insights can tell you the speed of an individual page:

Tools like ClickFlow go a step further, syncing with Google Analytics and running speed tests on all your pages so you can identify the overall areas where you need to make improvements. 

#5: Use Internal Links to Cross-promote Your Content

Internal links can help drive traffic throughout your website and increase dwell time, which is an important Google ranking factor.

When to Test It

You have several pieces of content with a similar theme and zero or few internal links between them.

How to Test It

Add in-line and related links (like the one we added below this paragraph) to blog posts, articles and, if it makes sense, product pages. Start with your most popular pages and then work outward from there. 

Related Content: What Is A/B SEO Testing?

#6: A/B Test Your Title Tags

If you’ve spent any time on social media (especially in the comments), you know that most people only read the headline before engaging with a piece of content. While that’s objectively a bad thing, making sure headlines are click-worthy is important for marketers. 

The title tag (along with a page’s meta description) is what displays in search engine results):

When to Test It

You have a large volume of content on your site that gets a lot of impressions in Google search but not a lot of organic traffic.

How to Test It

Try updating your title tags with items that lead to more clicks — dates, numbers, and phrases like “The Ultimate,” “X Ways to” or “The Future of”.

ClickFlow makes it simple to run and save A/B tests of your title tags so you can measure results quickly and easily. You can also A/B test groups of title tags at once with this tool:

#7: A/B Test Meta Descriptions

Meta descriptions may not be as important for Google rankings as they once were, but they are definitely important for click-through rates, which have an impact on how well your content ranks.

When to Test It

You’re satisfied that your title tags are winners but still aren’t seeing the CTRs you want. Or, you haven’t been creating meta descriptions so Google has been pulling them from your content.

How to Test It

Create keyword-rich descriptions of about 160 characters. Test versions that target different keywords that the page ranks for, but make sure they’re relevant. See which versions perform better over time.

This is another test that ClickFlow makes really easy for you — watch the demo below to see how it works:

#8: Add Keyword-rich Headers to Content

When Google looks at the quality of content for ranking, “scannability” is important, especially for mobile users. That means breaking up text with headers.

When to Test It

Your articles and blog posts are walls of text or span multiple pages.

How to Test It

Combine multi-page articles into one page and break up content that spans more than two or three paragraphs with keyword-rich H1 and H2 tags. Start with popular pages and, if you see success, expand.

Related Content: How to Rank on Page 1 of Google for Thousands of Keywords

#9: Remove Dates from URLs

If your blog is on a CMS like WordPress, your default URL will often include the date. If you’ve updated an article from 2016 to make it relevant for 2020, but it still shows 2016 in the URL on the SERPs, users may be less inclined to click.

When to Test It

Your CMS automatically adds the date to your new posts and you haven’t changed it, or you update old content frequently.

How to Test It

Very carefully!

In WordPress, you can easily change this on a global level, but you may want to start small to ensure that you don’t end up with broken links — especially if you’ve been cross-linking.

You can use a plugin to set up redirects for indexed content, but spend some time checking your Google Analytics for 404s and fix them quickly.

Take Testing One Step at a Time

You may be tempted to implement all of these tactics at once. The good news is, if you do that, you will definitely boost your SEO pretty quickly.

The bad news, however, is that you’ll have no idea which of the tactics were most successful.

I recommend picking one or two to start, and then when you’re satisfied that you’ve learned all you can from each test, move on to the next one. That way, the next time you create a piece of content, you’ll know exactly what to do to ensure that it’s well-positioned for top ranking. (At least until the next big Google algorithm change!)

ClickFlow can help you identify areas where you can improve the SEO of your website without creating tons of new content or fishing for backlinks.

Sign up for a free 21-day trial of ClickFlow and start growing your organic traffic today! 

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