SEO Experiments – When Testing Trumps Following Rules

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June 5, 2024

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SEO Experiments – When Testing Trumps Following Rules

The Thrill of Defying Conventional Wisdom

As an SEO consultant, I’ve always had a rebellious streak. While others in my industry dutifully follow the latest trends and algorithm updates, I can’t help but wonder – what if there’s a better way? What if the “rules” we’ve all come to accept aren’t actually the keys to success?

This mindset has led me down some unconventional paths, and I’ve learned that sometimes, the most valuable insights come from challenging the status quo. In this article, I’ll share some of my most illuminating SEO experiments and how they’ve shaped my approach to driving traffic and rankings.

Bucking the Keyword Density Myth

One of the first SEO “rules” I decided to put to the test was the idea of keyword density – the notion that your content needs to hit a specific percentage of target keyword usage to rank well. I’d heard it a thousand times: “Your keyword density should be between 1-3%!” But something about that just didn’t sit right with me.

Our agency decided to run an experiment, creating two almost identical pieces of content – one that strictly adhered to the 1-3% density guideline, and another that used the target keyword more freely, without worrying about ratios. To our surprise, the “rule-breaking” version significantly outperformed the “optimized” one in terms of rankings and traffic.

The takeaway? Keyword density is far less important than crafting natural, engaging content that speaks directly to your audience’s needs. By focusing on that, rather than arbitrary percentages, we were able to create something far more compelling and valuable.

The Power of Counterintuitive Content

Another area where I’ve found success in bucking conventional wisdom is with content topic selection. The typical advice is to stick to subjects that are directly relevant to your industry and target keywords. But what if you could attract an even wider audience by exploring unexpected, related angles?

That’s exactly what we did for one of our clients, a Manchester-based SEO agency. Rather than churning out yet another piece on “the latest Google algorithm update,” we decided to get a little more creative. We noticed that a lot of our target audience was also interested in psychology and human behavior – so we created an article exploring the fascinating psychology behind why people click on certain types of online content.

The results were astounding. Not only did this “off-topic” piece rank highly for our client’s core keywords, but it also drew in a whole new segment of readers who were intrigued by the unique perspective. By being willing to think outside the box, we were able to expand our reach and deliver far more value to our audience.

Embracing the Power of Experimentation

These are just a couple of examples of how my team and I have challenged SEO conventions and reaped the rewards. But the real takeaway here is the importance of an experimental mindset.

In an industry that’s constantly evolving, rigid adherence to “best practices” can actually hold you back. The most successful SEO professionals are those who are willing to question the rules, test new approaches, and embrace the unexpected. After all, that’s how we uncover the insights that will truly set us apart.

So, the next time you’re tempted to follow the herd, I encourage you to stop and ask yourself: “What if there’s a better way?” You never know what kind of SEO magic might be waiting to be discovered.

ProPublica’s investigation into the lack of side-impact testing standards for children’s car seats serves as a powerful reminder that just because something is considered an “industry standard,” doesn’t mean it’s the best or safest approach. By challenging the status quo and putting their own testing protocols to the test, manufacturers have been able to cut corners and put children at risk.

Similarly, in the world of SEO, we can’t afford to blindly follow the rules laid out by Google and other industry leaders. Their guidelines are a helpful starting point, but true innovation often comes from those who are willing to experiment and find their own path to success.

So, the next time you’re tempted to play it safe and stick to the script, I encourage you to remember the wise words of Albert Einstein: “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.” It’s time to get creative, test the boundaries, and discover what’s possible when you refuse to play by the rules.

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