The conventional method for improving Search Engine Results Page (SERP) listings often involves adhering to a set of established best practices. These best practices can either be industry-standard or internally defined strategies or a combination of both. While this approach is undoubtedly valuable, it can sometimes be limiting in terms of discovering more innovative ways to capture user attention within search results.
To address this limitation and foster experimentation, we present five steps that enable you to conduct experiments on your SERP listings and optimize them in unique and unconventional ways. Let's dive in:
Adopt a Conversion Rate Optimizer (CRO) Mindset
Conversion Rate Optimizers (CROs) approach their work scientifically. They formulate hypotheses and validate them through empirical A/B tests, which involve a controlled group for comparison. While SEO professionals may not have the luxury of conducting split tests on elements like title tags, meta descriptions, and rich result markup, adopting a scientific mindset remains crucial.
To think like a CRO without direct split testing, you should:
Formulate testable hypotheses for improving conversion rates.
Collect observations by making changes to your SERP listings.
Refine your methods based on repeated results, adjusting your approach as needed.
This scientific approach ensures that optimizations are based on data rather than mere best practices, reducing the risk of making changes that may not benefit your specific brand.
Clearly Define Changes
Start with a well-defined hypothesis. For instance, suppose you've come across a study suggesting that list-style posts tend to achieve higher click-through rates. A clear hypothesis provides a precise definition of your aim, allowing you to assess its validity accurately. Define your changes in a way that can be systematically applied across your listings.
Establish a Control Group
While you may not be able to split-test certain elements directly, you can still design reasonably controlled experiments. A control group allows you to measure the impact of changes more reliably. Select pages that won't undergo changes, creating a baseline to compare against your experimental group. Ensure that your control group pages align with the same category and criteria as your experimental group for meaningful results.
Monitor Rankings and Traffic Separately
To understand the impact of changes, monitor your rankings and traffic separately. Changes in rankings can influence overall traffic, making it essential to distinguish between the two. A strategy that results in a decrease in traffic may be due to changes in rankings rather than click-through rates. Attribution should be made only when rankings remain unaffected.
Analyze and Iterate
Once you've conducted your SERP listing experiments, allow sufficient time for search engines to update SERPs and gather meaningful traffic data. While this isn't a formal A/B test with statistical significance, you can assess practical significance. If the traffic difference between the control and experimental groups is less than 5%, and your sample size exceeds 500 visits, you can conclude that there was no practical impact. In such cases, it's time to refine your strategies for a more substantial effect.
Negative impacts can provide valuable insights about your audience, while successes can lead to further hypotheses and testing. The value of testing lies not only in improving click-through rates but also in gaining a deeper understanding of your audience, refining processes, and achieving increasingly positive outcomes.
Enhance SERP With Experimentation
Incorporating this experimental approach into your SEO strategy can open doors to innovation and ensure your SERP listings are optimized in ways that best suit your unique brand and audience.