How to Understand SEO Test Methods, Even When You Don’t Feel Like it

Hansjan Kamerling
May 22
SEO tests - seo tests
SEO tests are at the heart of successful search engine optimization. These tests help gauge how well your site is performing in organic search and can guide you on tweaks to boost organic traffic and visibility.
If you're short on time, here are quick answers to common questions:
  • How do SEO tests help? They reveal what's working and what's not, so you can optimize your website's rankings.
  • What should you test? Focus on elements like title tags, meta descriptions, and content variations.
  • How often should you run SEO tests? Regularly—think monthly or quarterly.
SEO testing is essential to ensure your site ranks well on search engines and draws in the traffic you want. By continuously optimizing elements like keywords, meta tags, and design, you maintain competitiveness and adapt to algorithm changes.
Quick Guide to SEO Testing - seo tests infographic process-5-steps-informal
What is SEO Testing?
SEO testing is the process of changing a website's content and design to see how these changes impact organic traffic and visibility in search engine results. Think of it as experimenting with different ingredients in a recipe to see which combination tastes best.
Changing Content
One of the main elements of SEO testing is changing content. This can mean tweaking keywords, updating blog posts, or even rewriting entire sections of your website. The goal is to see how these changes affect your rankings. For example, if you add more relevant keywords to a blog post, does it start ranking higher on Google?
Design Impact
Design changes can also play a significant role. Modifying your site's layout, improving mobile usability, or speeding up page load times can all impact your SEO. A well-designed site not only keeps users engaged but also signals to search engines that your site is high-quality.
Keywords are the backbone of SEO. Testing different keywords can help you identify which ones drive the most traffic. For instance, you might test "best coffee shop" vs. "top coffee shop" to see which one performs better.
Meta Tags
Meta tags are snippets of text that describe a page's content; they don't appear on the page itself but in the page's code. Testing different meta descriptions and title tags can significantly impact click-through rates (CTR) from search engine results pages (SERPs).
HTML Headings
HTML headings (like H1, H2, H3) help organize content and make it easier for search engines to understand the structure of your site. Testing different heading structures can help improve your rankings. For example, using a clear H1 tag that includes your main keyword can make a big difference.
Backlinks are links from other websites to your site. They are crucial for SEO because they act as votes of confidence. Testing different strategies to acquire high-quality backlinks can help improve your site's authority and rankings.
By experimenting with these elements, you can better understand what works for your site and what doesn't. This helps you make data-driven decisions to continuously improve your SEO performance.
Next, we'll dive into the importance of SEO testing and how it can benefit your website.
Why is SEO Testing Important?
SEO testing is crucial for several reasons. Let's break it down into three main benefits: improved decision-making, better user experience, and enhanced performance.
Improved Decision-Making
When it comes to SEO, guessing won't get you far. Testing allows you to explore new ideas and strategies and see their actual impact before fully committing. This means you can make decisions based on data, not just intuition or so-called best practices.
For example, you might think that adding more keywords to your meta descriptions will improve your rankings. But unless you test it, you won't know for sure. SEO tests give you the data you need to make informed decisions.
Improved User Experience
User experience (UX) is a big deal for SEO. Google considers page experience as a key ranking factor. A great user experience keeps people on your page and coming back.
Through SEO testing, you can experiment with different UX elements to see what works best. For instance, you might test different page layouts or loading speeds. Did you know that 83% of users expect pages to load in three seconds or less? Improving page speed can significantly boost user satisfaction and, in turn, your rankings.
Improved Performance
Better decision-making and improved UX naturally lead to better performance. This includes higher search visibility, better rankings, and increased traffic.
When done right, SEO tests should improve your overall website performance and key performance indicators (KPIs). These KPIs could be anything from organic traffic and bounce rates to conversion rates and average session duration.
For instance, testing different title tags could reveal which ones drive more clicks from search engine results pages (SERPs). Or you might find that a particular meta description boosts your click-through rates.
By focusing on these elements, you can continuously refine your SEO strategy to achieve better results.
Next, we'll explore the different types of SEO tests you can run to optimize your website.
Types of SEO Tests
SEO testing isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Different types of tests can help you understand various aspects of your website's performance. Let's dive into the main types of SEO tests you can run.
SEO A/B Testing
SEO A/B testing, also known as split testing, involves making changes to a specific element on a group of pages while keeping another group as a control. For example, you might change the headline on half of your product pages to see if it affects your search rankings or click-through rates (CTR).
Example: Imagine you run an online store. You might test two different headlines for your product pages: one focusing on "Free Shipping" and the other on "Discount Prices." By comparing the performance of these two groups, you can determine which headline drives more organic traffic.
SEO Multivariate Testing
SEO multivariate testing is a bit more complex. This type involves testing multiple variables simultaneously to understand how combinations of changes affect your SEO performance.
Example: You could test different combinations of headlines, images, and calls-to-action (CTAs) on your landing pages. Maybe one set of changes leads to more time spent on the page, while another boosts conversions.
Note: This method requires significant traffic to yield meaningful results, so it's best suited for high-traffic sites.
Before-and-After Testing
Before-and-after testing is straightforward. You record your SEO performance metrics before making a change, implement the change, and then measure the same metrics afterward.
Example: Say you want to improve the readability of your blog posts. You might simplify the language and structure of a few posts and then compare the metrics (like bounce rate and session duration) from before and after the change.
Caveat: This method isn't foolproof. External factors like seasonality and algorithm updates can skew results.
SEO Serial Testing
SEO serial testing involves making a change to an entire type of page across your website and then observing the results.
Example: If you decide to add the current year to the title tags of all your blog posts, you would track the SEO performance of these pages over time to see the impact.
Note: Results can vary widely. Some pages might see a boost, while others might not change at all. External factors can also influence outcomes.
Understanding these different types of SEO tests can help you choose the right method for your specific needs. Next, we'll look at how to run these tests effectively on your website.
How to Run SEO Tests
Running SEO tests might sound daunting, but breaking it down into simple steps makes it manageable. Here’s how to do it:
1. Form a Hypothesis
Start by forming a clear hypothesis. Think of it as an educated guess about what change you want to make and what result you expect.
[Change] will lead to [Effect] on [Types of Pages]
Adding short descriptions will lead to a 10% improvement in organic traffic on patio furniture e-commerce category pages.
2. Choose Your Pages
Select pages that get a decent amount of organic traffic. You need enough data to see meaningful results.
  • Go to Google Analytics: Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages
  • Filter by organic traffic and the types of pages you want to test (e.g., pages with /blog/ in the URL)
  • Choose pages with at least [x] sessions
Alternatively, use Ahrefs’ Site Explorer:
  • Enter your domain into Site Explorer
  • Go to the Top Pages 2.0 report
  • Filter for pages with at least [x] amount of traffic per month
  • Use the Include filter to find pages you’re interested in
3. Pull a Random Sample
You’ll run an A/B split-test, so you need a random subset of pages to change. The rest will be your control group.
  • Import your dataset (URLs, etc.) into Google Sheets
  • Highlight all the data
  • Right-click and select “Randomize range”
This randomizes the order of URLs. Use a percentage from the top as your variant group.
4. Decide on the Test Duration
The duration depends on how much traffic you get and how many pages you have. It could range from a few days to a few months.
  • High Traffic Sites: Shorter test duration
  • Low Traffic Sites: Longer test duration
5. Track Results
Use tools like Google Analytics and Position Tracking to monitor the performance of your control and variant pages.
Metrics to Track:
  • Organic traffic
  • Click-through rates (CTR)
  • Rankings
  • Engagement rates
6. Make Changes
Based on your hypothesis, make the necessary changes to your variant pages.
  • Title Tags: Change keywords or add power words
  • Meta Descriptions: Make them more compelling
  • Content Length: Increase or decrease word count
7. Check Results
After running the test for the decided duration, analyze the data.
Questions to Ask:
  • Did the change lead to an increase in organic traffic?
  • Are there significant differences between the control and variant groups?
  • Google Analytics: Compare traffic and engagement metrics
  • Position Tracking: Monitor keyword rankings
8. Implement Findings
If your hypothesis is validated, roll out the changes to all relevant pages. Ensure the changes maintain user experience and align with your site's overall design and goals.
9. Monitor and Iterate
Keep an eye on performance after implementing changes. Be ready to iterate based on new data and evolving search engine algorithms.
Continuous Process:
  • Regularly monitor key metrics
  • Stay updated with search engine algorithm changes
  • Be agile and ready to adapt
By following these steps, you'll be well on your way to running effective SEO tests that can significantly improve your site's performance. Next, we'll dive into some practical SEO testing ideas and examples to get you started.
SEO Testing Ideas & Examples
1. Title Tags
Testing title tags is a simple yet powerful way to boost your SEO. Think of title tags as the first impression your site makes in search results. A well-crafted title can significantly increase your click-through rate (CTR).
Example: Test different title tags for your product pages. Try variations like "Buy Affordable Laptops" vs. "Top-Rated Laptops for Sale."
Why it works: Users are more likely to click on a title that speaks directly to their needs or interests. Testing helps you find the most compelling version.
2. Meta Descriptions
Meta descriptions are the short snippets that appear under your page title in search results. They can make or break your CTR.
Example: Experiment with different meta descriptions for your blog posts. Compare "Learn How to Bake a Cake in 5 Easy Steps" vs. "Discover the Secret to Perfect Cakes Every Time."
Why it works: A compelling meta description can entice users to click on your link over others. Testing lets you see which descriptions drive more traffic.
3. Content Variations
The length, format, and comprehensiveness of your content can impact your rankings and user engagement.
Example: Test long-form content (2,000+ words) against short-form content (500 words) on your product pages.
Why it works: Some topics may benefit from in-depth articles, while others might perform better with concise information. Testing helps you understand what your audience prefers.
4. Link Placement and Anchor Text Variations
Where you place links and the text you use for them can influence user behavior and conversions.
Example: Test different link placements and anchor texts in your blog posts. Compare "Click here for more details" vs. "Learn more about SEO best practices."
Why it works: Effective link placement and anchor text can guide users through your site more efficiently, improving engagement and conversions.
5. Schema Markup
Schema markup helps search engines understand your content better, which can improve your visibility in search results.
Example: If you own a restaurant, add schema markup to display reviews and menus directly in search results.
Why it works: Enhanced listings can make your site stand out in search results, increasing your click-through rate.
6. Image Optimization
Optimizing images can improve your image SEO, making it easier for search engines to find and index them.
Example: Test giving images on your site descriptive names, like "blue-running-shoes.jpg" instead of "IMG1234.jpg."
Why it works: Descriptive names help Google understand what your images are about, improving their chances of appearing in search results.
By implementing these SEO testing ideas, you can make data-driven decisions that enhance your site's performance. Next, we'll answer some frequently asked questions about SEO tests to help you get started.
Frequently Asked Questions about SEO Tests
What are SEO tests?
SEO tests are experiments designed to understand how changes to your website affect its visibility and ranking on search engines. These tests can involve altering various elements such as keywords, meta tags, HTML headings, and backlinks to see what impacts organic traffic.
Imagine you're running an online store and want to see if changing the title of a product page improves its ranking. By conducting an SEO test, you can gather data to determine if the change results in higher visibility and more clicks.
How to run SEO tests?
Running an SEO test involves several steps:
  1. Form a Hypothesis: Start with a clear idea of what you want to test. For example, "Changing the meta description will increase the click-through rate."
  1. Choose Pages: Select the pages you want to test. Ensure they are relevant to your hypothesis.
  1. Pull a Random Sample: If you have a large site, pick a random sample of pages to test your changes on. This helps in getting unbiased results.
  1. Test Duration: Decide how long you will run the test. It can range from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the change and the traffic volume.
  1. Track Results: Use tools like Google Analytics to monitor the performance of the changes. Look for metrics such as organic traffic, click-through rates, and rankings.
  1. Make Changes: Implement the changes you are testing on your selected pages.
  1. Check Results: After the test period, compare the performance of the changed pages to the control group (unchanged pages). Assess whether the changes had a positive, negative, or neutral impact.
How do I check for SEO?
To check your SEO performance, you can use various tools and methods:
  • Google SEO Analysis: Use Google Search Console to analyze your website's performance. It provides insights into how Google views your site and highlights any issues.
  • SEO Scan: Tools like Adaptify.ai can scan your site for SEO issues and provide a comprehensive report.
  • SEO Score: Many SEO tools provide a score that reflects your site's optimization level. This score can be a quick way to gauge your SEO health.
  • SEO Issues: Look for common issues such as broken links, missing alt text for images, and slow page speed. Tools like Google's PageSpeed Insights can help identify and fix these problems.
By regularly conducting SEO tests and checking your site's SEO, you can make informed decisions to improve your site's performance and achieve better search engine rankings.
In the changing world of SEO, staying ahead requires a robust strategy and continuous testing. This is where Adaptify.ai steps in. We offer automated SEO services that take the guesswork out of the equation.
Our platform is designed to handle every aspect of your SEO needs:
  • Strategy Formulation: We start by crafting a tailored SEO strategy based on your unique goals and industry insights. This ensures your efforts are both targeted and effective.
  • Content Creation: High-quality content is the backbone of any successful SEO campaign. Our team produces engaging, optimized content that resonates with your audience and ranks well on search engines.
  • PR Link Building: Building a strong backlink profile is crucial for improving your site's authority. We employ ethical and effective PR link-building techniques to earn high-quality backlinks.
  • AI Integration: Leveraging artificial intelligence, we automate various aspects of SEO, from keyword research to performance monitoring. This not only saves time but also enhances accuracy and efficiency.
  • Comprehensive SEO Solution: Adaptify.ai provides an all-in-one solution, ensuring every facet of your SEO is covered. From technical audits to on-page optimization, we handle it all.
By using Adaptify.ai, you can expect a more efficient and effective SEO process. Our automated tools and expert team work together to deliver results, freeing you up to focus on other critical aspects of your business.
Ready to take your SEO to the next level? Explore our services and see how we can help you achieve your goals.
Hansjan Kamerling
Co-Founder of Adaptify, I specialize in SEO for marketing agencies through automation.
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