This is how you can run SEO tests using tools like Google Optimize and your CMS in just 10 minutes
SEO Testing is an increasingly common technique in the SEO world that’s changing the way we optimize websites for search engines and users experience. Running SEO tests can be easy or very hard, it depends on what you want to test, but in this article we’ll explain simple steps so you can start from scratch with simple and free tools.
In theory, you can test everything, from content to link building, including technical aspects. The most important consideration is the hypothesis that you’ll test in your experiment. It should be scientific and data-driven. These words can seem complicated at first glance, but after understanding the concepts and practice, you’ll change the way you do SEO forever.
A simple framework to run SEO tests
This is the basic 6 step SEO Testing framework that we created at Conversion Agency to help our clients achieve unparalleled results. As you can see in the diagram above, Start is a key element in the process because you should be running dozens of experiments, not just one or three. So you’ll always be starting again and again. For example, Netflix runs about one hundred experiments monthly.
Last but not least, SEO Testing is not just about achieving better results, but about innovation, assuming risks and generating new knowledge to create winning strategies. So, it’s less about technical aspects and more about mindset. It’s not possible to run really good experiments without embracing Error Culture. Remember Thomas Edison: “The light bulb was an invention with 1000 steps. I never once failed at making a light bulb. I just found out 99 ways not to make one. I know of over 3,000 ways [that] a light bulb does not work. “
You need a problem to solve
Edison had a problem he was focused on solving (creating light mechanically), he wasn’t focused on the solution, the bulb was just one of a thousand possible solutions. This is one important aspect that makes Thomas Edison a great inventor and innovator, because innovation is about the problem and not the solution!
People usually focus too much on solutions that aren’t very good. Because they aren’t focusing on the problem, they don’t see too many alternative solutions. So, from a technical perspective, running SEO tests can be very easy, but from a creative perspective it’s complex and whoever runs the highest quality and quantity of experiments will be the leader in their market.
Create a hypothesis
Let’s say your problem is that you appear on the third page of Google results for an important keyword. Hypotheses are some of the possible solutions.
To create a good hypothesis you should understand a little how a scientific method works:
First of all, you need data. Of course, your position on Google search results is a useful metric, but there are other possible and better metrics for generating data.
Here a some of the metrics we use at Conversion Agency:
- Bounce rate;
- Content retention;
- Session duration;
- Conversion Rate (micro and final conversion)
- Estimated traffic (Semrush, Ubersuggest, etc.)
Now you need to describe your hypothesis with good data. For example: my “How to format an iPhone” content is on the third page of Google. The Time on Page is only 1 minute, and reading retention until the end of content is about 10%. For a benchmark, good Time on Page is about 5 minutes and retention rate is about 25% (you can obtain this metric with scroll rate from Microsoft Clarity and you can use our free Retention Analysis spreadsheet).
Using our Retention Analysis tool, you can see the data below:
The big metric to focus on is the Relative Bounce Rate. In this example, the content block “Give it a try” and “Introduction” are blocks with low retention rates and high bounce rates.
Let’s say your hypothesis is: remove the Introduction and get straight to the point, invert the “Give it a try” and “Alternatives” blocks. If this experiment is successful, the hypothesis is that you should go to the second page of Google, increase Time on Page to 3 minutes and Retention to 20%.
Gotcha! You have a hypothesis of what should be done and the expected results. Now all you need to do is run your experiments and manage them. Remember, as we said, that the biggest companies run thousands of tests per year.
Running your tests
Running an SEO test is very easy. After you’ve created the hypothesis you need to implement the optimization and wait around 28 days to see the results. When an experiment is finished, they have 3 possible results:
Whatever the result, you should generate knowledge about what you learned from running these experiments. We’ll talk about this below, but now we should talk about experiment management.
SEO Experiment Management
As you need to run dozens of experiments simultaneously, it’s necessary to use a tool or a methodology to manage all these experiments. But the news is that we at Conversion Agency have created a free Notion template where you can manage all your experiments using a simple kanban interface. You can make your copy here.
Generate new knowledge
Last but not least, the most important part of any experiment is what you’ve learned from each test you’ve run.
Here we need to open a parenthesis to say that when running experiments you shouldn’t be looking only to increase your results, but generate innovation so you can get exponential results. They’re almost the same, but they’re different approaches.
To develop innovation, you have to embrace the culture of error, that is accept that most of your tests you run will generate bad or inconclusive results. Some will produce even worse results, but it’s great, because now you know what doesn’t work! Those that produce good results should be empowered.
To get the best outputs, you should generate knowledge and document each of your tests. You can do this through our simple tool SEO Experiments by Conversion.
Want to learn more about SEO Testing? Read this complete guide.