How to test SEO and why
Companies need to constantly improve in order to prosper in the software development market. New players enter the competition every day, offering a wide range of software development services. In order to stand out in this stream, be noticed by potential customers, and be able to effectively convey information about themselves, companies need to take the first positions in the search engine results pages (SERP). This is achieved by applying SEO and SEO testing.
Like most working methodologies, technical tools, and programs, a particular SEO strategy can be either effective or ineffective. Using an ineffective strategy results in a website that is poorly optimized and unattractive to web crawlers.
The performance of the software is checked via testing. Can quality assurance be applied to a website’s SEO in the same way?
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a set of activities and processes, the task of which is the internal and external improvement of a website to increase its visibility. In other words - raising a website’s positions in SERP for certain user queries.
An average user usually doesn’t scroll beyond the third page, so primarily the websites included in the TOP 30 can count on visibility. And this means that the higher the position of a website is, the more likely it will be seen by potential customers. Thus, SEO is a set of measures aimed at increasing traffic.
Most businesses strive to increase organic traffic - the number of users who go to the company's website on their own, for which there is no need to pay. Effectively established SEO is the key to a rise in organic users who can become the company’s clients and hence to an increase in its profits. This is relevant both for small companies that are just building up their client bases and for large corporations that want to increase their profits.
Therefore, the main tasks of SEO are the following:
Search engines like Google, Yahoo!, and Bing use special tools (or crawlers) to crawl web pages. Moving from one website to another, crawlers collect information from these pages for further analysis. Then, the collected content is analyzed by algorithms that are developed using hundreds of different parameters. The result of this analysis is the decision on which pages will appear on the top and which on the bottom of SERP for a particular query.
The parameters used by search engines can be divided into several groups:
These parameters are great in number, and each group has its specific coefficient of significance for different queries. In addition, it should be borne in mind that search engines make changes to their algorithms after a certain time.
The task of search engine algorithms is to display, first of all, relevant authoritative pages and provide users with the information that answers their requests most accurately. Knowing the parameters according to which these algorithms operate and understanding their significance, it is possible to effectively optimize the website and its content. This will help the company's website rank higher in search results and be visible to users.
Well, the simplest and most obvious answer to this question - if your SEO is poorly configured, clients either don’t come to you, or their number is insufficient, or they are not the type of clients you need. What’s more difficult is to determine what the problem is and fix it quickly.
There are three key parameters that you can analyze to discover the effectiveness of your website's SEO:
Website ranking by keywords
Regular monitoring of the website's position in the list of search results for keywords should become part of your promotion strategy. In order to see the current situation, such an analysis should be done at least once a week. If pages with keywords are in the TOP 10 of SERP, your SEO is configured correctly.
Backlinks are links that lead to your website from pages of other resources. The number of backlinks indicates the popularity or significance of the website. They are important for SEO because search engines are more likely to trust pages that have a lot of quality backlinks from reputable resources. Search engines consider these websites as more relevant and are more likely to rank them in the TOP results for a search query. At the same time, it is necessary to mention that the use of this parameter is relevant only with 100% organic link building.
Thus, tracking the number of backlinks also helps to estimate the effectiveness of your SEO. Incidentally, the best way to get more backlinks is to post interesting and informative content on your website.
The main goal of applying website optimization is sales. On the one hand, they are driven by the correct SEO configuration, on the other hand, by the efficiency of the sales department. If a company's website attracts many users but they are not converted into customers, there are flaws at one of the levels.
SEO is the result of the work of several specialists or teams. Under the guidance of a Product Manager, an engineer develops a product, a Content Manager writes an article about it, a Marketing Specialist creates a promotion strategy, a Designer selects a visual, etc. Such a large number of interactions, on the one hand, and the presence of strict requirements of search engine algorithms, on the other hand, requires the process of configuring the website’s optimization to be as accurate as possible and exclude errors.
Content and website specialists seek help from their company's testers or order quality assurance services from software testing firms.
Why should SEO be tested? First of all, to avoid the so-called "404 errors", when users go to broken pages. The user doesn’t receive information, leaves, and the chain is broken. It is important to promptly prevent such scenarios, as similar cases cause a negative reaction among users. They may never visit the website again, remembering their unpleasant experience.
Along with that, an important aspect of effective website operation is the convenience of the interface. If a visitor didn’t manage to find the necessary information on the resource or contact the business through the feedback form, it is likely they will never return to the website. That’s why testing such things is of high importance.
Another opportunity that SEO testing provides is checking the correctness and effectiveness of titles, meta titles, meta descriptions, and keywords. It is better to run the test beforehand and make sure the selected descriptions are appropriate than get poor results after posting content on the website.
SEO testing can also include user A/B testing. Defining the audience is important for both sales and marketing. This allows a business to draw the necessary conclusions, correctly configure the website for the target audience of the company's product, and hence optimize costs.
The majority of development and QA teams haven’t incorporated SEO into their strategies yet. Perhaps they haven’t realized how much SEO can affect the efficiency of processes and the business as a whole. However, as practice shows, fixing errors during development is much cheaper than fixing them at the stage of implementation.
It should be mentioned that identifying SEO bugs is quite difficult - they may not affect the overall functionality of the website. It takes time for the search engines to re-index the website after bugs are found and fixed. If an error is not instantly eliminated, the website will no longer be included in the first search results. Subsequently, traffic will start falling, followed by a decrease in the company's profits. Even after the problem is resolved, returning the number of website visits to normal will take time.
SEO and QA teams should join forces and spend time on the development of a strategy that will help to generate sufficient traffic and attract new customers.
This is important for large websites that regularly add or change content. Search engines analyze such websites every day. This gives teams very little time to troubleshoot problems.
With SEO testing, bugs can be quickly detected during the development phase and without additional costs. Thus, using well-established QA of SEO will help to reduce the number of fixes in the future. Based on already conducted tests, the business can draw conclusions and build a global SEO testing strategy.
Today, any software testing company can offer different approaches to organizing the process of testing a website’s SEO. One of them is automated SEO testing. In what cases is this option preferable?
Firstly, when a website is complex and includes large data arrays. With such a volume of information, it is difficult for a manual tester to discern and evaluate all the details and find a potential error.
Secondly, when the data on a website is updated frequently. It is much more convenient to provide testing templates, according to which the testing will be carried out over and over again when updating and adding information.
Thirdly, automated tests allow you to quickly get the results you need. If it is essential to solve the problem rapidly, this option for organizing the QA process is preferable.
Experts predict that, in the near future, SEO testing will become a compulsory condition for the effective operation of websites and successful marketing strategies. Regardless of what type of testing is used, high-quality SEO will certainly affect the quality and amount of traffic coming to the resource. As a result, companies will be able to improve the ranking of their websites in search engines, increase their traffic, receive unpaid organic traffic, and increase profits.