The Rarity of the Shared SEO Experiment
I’ve heard from a number of superstar SEOs that experimentation is the cornerstone of successful search engine marketing. Considering the competitive nature of this field, the results of such testing are often held close to the vest. It’s not everyday that you get to see a search marketer’s detailed testing process and findings laid out for the masses. But that’s just what Matt Ridout did earlier this week.
On the SEOUnique Blog, Matt shared a little experiment with us. Using a test site that has apparently been around for at least three months, he says he:
- Optimized the Meta data.
- Included keywords and phrases within the page content.
- And optimized the images (presumably addressing the ALT text, file name and surrounding text).
After improving those three basic SEO issues, Matt sat back and watched his rankings dance. He recorded the SERP positions of his keywords before making the changes and then once a week for six weeks. He then plotted his findings on nifty graphs and proceeded to share them with everyone interested — like me and (at the moment) 47 other impressed Sphinn members.
Let me quickly outline his findings as the experienced search marketers reading this are probably already aware of what goes down.
- During the first two weeks, there was a gradual increase in rankings for most keywords.
- The third week of the experiment brought a dramatic rankings drop for 85 percent of the keywords.
- By the fourth week, 70 percent of the keywords did a 180, surpassing their baseline rankings.
- There was little movement in rankings during the final two weeks of the experiment.
(Another aside. The graphs were a bit confusing to me until I realized, thanks to commenter John Spickler, that a drop in rankings is visualized as an upswing on the graph and a rise in rankings appears to be a dip in the graph. Makes sense considering high rankings are represented by low-value numbers, like the number one.) [He should have plotted them as negative numbers so he didn’t confuse
me people. –Susan]
I’ve never conducted an SEO experiment myself so I was delighted to come across a study like Matt’s. In the time that I’ve become a student of the industry, I’ve seen few case studies. Conferences are always good for a couple, but other than that, I continue to collect my industry knowledge from the news, vague secondhand accounts and the occasional example of an outlier that has dropped off the face of the SERPs. I can understand why the Colonel keeps his secret recipe secret, but I often wish that wasn’t the case in the search world.
Imagine if this cryptic attitude was the norm in the realm of science. Think of all the findings that no one would know about. Even scarier, think of all the developments that would have never happened (shoulders of giants and all)! How far could the industry have advanced by now if openness didn’t put someone at a disadvantage?
Am I naïve? Is my science comparison completely off base? Is secrecy the real reason I don’t see more case studies? Where do you go to get your information?. If you know where to find case studies or where an Internet marketer is giving it all away, I’m all ears.