Stop guessing, how to setup an SEO Test

How to tell if the changes you make to a page or site have a positive effect to your Google rankings.


Previously we have looked at how to find pages that have an opportunity of achieving a better click through rate - but how do we track the results to see if the changes we make lead to an improvement? This is also true for page content improvement opportunities we can find.

Step forward SEO testing...

By using the numbers in Google Search Console, SanityCheck can compare 6 weeks of previous data, against 6 weeks from when you made the change and created the test. This is usually enough time to see if your change has had a positive, negative, or no real effect on the rankings and clicks from Google.

How to do SEO Testing in SanityCheck

Step 1 is to go ahead and make your change, and then resubmit the page for Google to recrawl through Search Console.

Assuming you have made a change you want to test, to create a SEO test in SanityCheck.IO follow these steps:

Click on ‘Tests’ in the side menu

Click on 'Create a new test…’ on the Tests page

Give your Test a Name, and Description so you can remember what you are testing in 6 weeks time

You can perform 2 types of test.

  1. A page based test. This is for when you are making a change to a single page
  2. A site wide test. This is for when you are making a change to an entire site, such as improving the load speed of the entire site.

If you are doing a page based test, make sure to put the full url in the Page Url field. If you are doing a Site Wide test you should leave this textbox blanks.

SanityCheck will now go and get data on how the page/site has performed over the last 6 weeks, and from the date the test was created up to 6 weeks time - the test will update every time Google Search Console does so you can see how the new changes are performing against the old version.

Above is a screenshot of a test we ran on one of our websites. You can see the blue line is the base period, and the black line indicates the test period. This change on the page was pretty successful! We only display Position and Click Through Rates for a test - I feel by just focusing on these two numbers we can remove any seasonal changes. For example an eCommerce store would expect to get a lot more impressions and clicks in the 6 weeks leading up to Christmas, than the 6 weeks afterwards - but the average position and click through rates are less likely to change with everything else being the same.

What things can you SEO Test?

Here are some examples of the kinds of things you can look to change or improve on a page and then measure the results.

Titles and Meta Descriptions

As we have said in other emails, improving your Page Titles and Meta Descriptions can really improve the Click Through Rate you get from Googles search results. As CTR is considered one of the input signals for Google RankBrain - this is something worth working on. If you have something where the Page Titles are all a similar format - such as products on an e-commerce store, it would be a good idea to test a few Page Titles before rolling out a change to all your products.

Content

Is a page low on quality content? Try improving a page by writing more in-depth content and including useful images. Once a page has been improved ask Google to re-crawl it and test the results.

Page speed

Does your page have a poor Google Page Speed Score? Page Speed has been confirmed by Google as one of its core ranking factors. Why not try improving the speed on one of your pages and measuring whether it improves the page's average position. If so it would probably be worth improving your Page Speed scores across your site.

Keyword targeting

May be you are unsure of which keyword a page should be targeting? Try testing different variations and compare results. Different keywords may rank similarly, but have different click through rates - so it is always useful testing these things.

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