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Running SEO Experiments

SEO, otherwise known as Search Engine Optimization, is the art of making a website appear higher within search engine results pages. There is considered to be over two hundred ranking factors which influence how highly a website can appear within search engine results and the methods for achieving higher rankings are constantly changing and evolving. Search engines factor their rankings based on an algorithm that continually gets updated to enhance its capabilities and relevance while also attempting to combat people who are trying to game the system.

More About SEO

SEO became big in the mid 90’s when a company was under pressure from their client. The story goes that the company was contracted to build a website for the famous band Jefferson Starship and one of the developers received an irate phone call very early in the morning from the band’s manager. The manager wanted to show someone how cool the band was because it has a website but he couldn’t remember the URL, so he tried to look it up in a search engine. He didn’t see the website as high as he wanted within the search engine results and became incredibly embarrassed in front of his associate. As a result, it became the company’s priority to master the art of making a website appear higher within search engine results and SEO was born. SEO was a lot easier back in the mid 90’s than it is today. All the company did was keyword stuff the words ‘Jeferson Starship’ in small black text over a black background and the rankings soared to number one.

Since the 90’s there have been a lot of Search Engine Ranking Services which have come and go and it’s exploded and become a huge part of any marketing teams talent stack.

SEO Experiments

From the incredibly easy methods that used to rank websites up to the way that the landscape of SEO is today, a lot has changed. Gone are the days where you can safely keyword stuff a page and its meta tags, send mass amounts of spammy and irrelevant backlinks to a page with exact match anchor text or use those infamous Paul and Angela links. Because of the evolving nature of search engines, people have to resort to performing SEO experiments in order to see what works and what doesn’t. Here are some SEO experiments that have been tried and are still being used today.

Content Hijacking

There was a major algorithmic update which was supposed to kill the method of people stealing other people’s content and using it for themselves but there has been some instances of duplicate content outranking the original source. Some people will steal mass amounts of content and paste it onto their website and start ranking for it seemingly because it’s not a carbon copy of the original website and has content from many other websites so it ranks for a lot of terms. You could also use an expired domain with good metrics to try and outrank the original too.

Google Plus Ones

With the advent of Google Plus a few years ago, Googles very own Social Network, many people thought that Google would decide to give preferential treatment to itself and favor websites which have social interactions from its network. Some people have reported that they thought their rankings went up a bit while others stated that it didn’t do anything. Either way, it seems to be conclusive that more +1’s do not = higher rankings.

Negative SEO

While a bit of a taboo subject in the world of SEO and also considered the most scummy tactic there is to gain an advantage, some people have tried to use negative SEO on their own websites to create a positive effect. The nature of a negative SEO attack is to send incredible amounts of spammy links, usually with exact match anchor text, to a website which will then tank its rankings because of the mass influx of links in a short amount of time. Some people had their websites rankings obliterated from these attacks while it created a reverse effect on other websites and increased their rankings.

This is believed to be because an algorithmic update was programmed to recognize negative SEO and not acknowledge its dirty nature. An SEO experiment, in this case, was as a result of this, people decided to neg SEO their own websites to see if they could receive the positive benefits that may happen.

Social Media Signals

Signals that your website is popular and getting shared a lot on Social Media is believed to be a ranking factor within search engines. While it is still believed that this does have a positive effect, most people now use social signals for helping websites and pages to get indexed faster.