Putting Your SEO Strategy to the Test

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Email marketers rely on A/B split testing to refine their future campaigns. By discovering which messages produce the best results, they fine-tune their approach with each newsletter and get closer to the moving target of the perfect delivery. With SEO content, that kind of variable testing isn’t typically possible – at least, not on your primary live site. You have two options for road-testing your SEO strategy: feeder sites and simultaneous SEO strategy tests on a single evolving page such as your blog.

Using Feeder Sites for Testing SEO Effectiveness

With weekly or monthly newsletters, your content creation team gets a chance to understand your target market and reach it more effectively with every mailing. Satellite or feeder sites are a proven method for raising your profile, and they’re an excellent way to determine which approaches get your intended audience’s attention. They’re tailor-made for variable testing.

For example, a company that specializes in installing and maintaining HVAC equipment for small to mid-sized businesses might test a site that addresses energy-efficient and cost-effective upgrades, another that focuses on long-term comfort and a third that highlights the company’s 24-hour emergency service. All three are important facets of the parent company’s value, but each site also serves as a means of testing niche keywords. By finding out what the majority of its customers want, the company’s content creation specialist can turn the spotlight on its greatest selling points while listing the others as value-added propositions.

Like all business content that bears your name, satellite domains must still have quality writing. White-hat SEO techniques never forget that human readers, not just search engines’ crawlers, visit sites. Google also takes a dim view of overdoing micro-sites and flooding the Internet with low-interest, one-paragraph pages as split-variable testing tools or link-builders. They may only contain a page or two of content, but these sites still reflect on you, so it’s vital to make sure they cast a flattering light. Feeder sites still count.

Testing SEO Strategies

The key to effective SEO A/B split testing is rigorous control over your strategy. If you throw ideas at your page to see what sticks, you may never discover whether your massive spike in readership was due to a calculated shift in SEO choices or a lucky stumble over a high-value niche keyword. You can’t make the magic happen again unless you understand how the trick was done.

The analytics your marketing and content creation company supplies are incredibly powerful tools, but to maximize their utility, a systematic approach works best.

  • Designate control and experimental groups of ideas. If you were conducting scientific research, you’d need at least two groups to observe differences between them. Let’s return to that HVAC company. If the business usually posts blog messages relating to energy efficiency, EnergyStar ratings and savings on utility bills, that strategy would serve as the control. Experimental blog posts might emphasize localization over economy.
  • Control for variables. Your HVAC company might show a spike in interest for local emergency services during a heat wave like the one the East Coast had in July, for instance. If you looked at the analytics from those scorching hot weeks, you’d assume that localization and prioritizing quick emergency service were more important than selling the economy and efficiency of upgrading equipment, but that might not be the case over the long haul. Always take other factors into account when assessing the success of a new SEO strategy.
  • Commit to a lengthy run. Data from a handful of blog posts tells you little, but analytics of a dozen or two posts will reveal meaningful shifts in response rates. As you and your content creation specialist amass information about your SEO strategy, you can refine your optimization techniques to achieve a better ROI on every blog post, static site and social media channel.
  • Be specific about your metrics. How you measure SEO success depends on what you want to gain from your content strategy. Increased traffic is only one measure of SEO success; if you’re going for higher page rank and better name recognition, it’s an important one, but longer stays on pages and lower bounce rates can mean just as much or more for mid-sized companies with an established web presence.

No matter how you choose to test your SEO strategy or what you aim to achieve with it, content must always come first. No optimization strategy works in the long term if your readers – not just search engines – don’t find your content valuable enough to read or watch.

© Business Content, Inc. 2013 All Rights Reserved.

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