Quality is the most important criterion by which Google ranks websites in the SERPs. The more convenient, useful, and interesting a web application is, the more users turn to it. The growing number of visitors makes it clear for the search engine that the website has value and should be raised higher so that it can be viewed by as many people as possible. Being in the TOP 10 in the search results is a paramount task, as statistically, only 0.78% of users reach the second page of Google. Therefore, companies should give consideration to not only an SEO audit but also SEO testing because it directly affects the traffic and profits of an organization. Let’s figure out how it works.
What SEO testing is and why it is important
SEO testing is not much different from other types of testing. It involves searching for errors: 404 pages, broken links, irrelevant code, problems with loading pages, visual defects, and so on. All this can be found during UX testing, performance testing, or cross-platform testing. And the goal of SEO testing is to identify problems that can arise after changes in a website before they affect the quality of the web application and organic traffic.
From a tester’s point of view, the 404 error is not a significant bug: it doesn’t cause disruption of the website, and the visitor can go to another page and continue the search. But from the SEO perspective, hundreds of 404 pages can significantly reduce organic traffic. According to Google, 61% of users will leave a website if it has access issues. The search engine sees a lot of low-quality pages with duplicate content and lowers the “intruder” in the ranking.
Here’s another example of the direct impact of errors on traffic. Let’s suppose developers have updated an important page and deleted its heading – H1- by accident. And H1 is one of the mandatory ranking factors, according to which the search engine determines the page content. This is the heading of the page that users see. If H1 is deleted, this important page will simply drop out of the search results, which will lead to a drop in traffic.
From these examples, it becomes clear that any change can lead to the accidental loss of data important for SEO, which will affect the quality of the website and its ranking in the search engine. That’s why testers should devote their attention to SEO. This will allow a business to maintain an unbreakable chain:
- The higher the quality of the website that QA provides, the higher the web application is ranked.
- The higher the search engine score is, the more organic traffic comes to the website.
- The higher the organic traffic is, the more orders for products or paid services the business receives.
- The more leads the business has, the better.
No website is immune to problems with SEO. Google has over 200 ranking factors, and the search engine changes its algorithms up to 1000 times a year. You needn’t strive to please it. What’s important is to create a high-quality and user-friendly website and check it after each change in order to provide yourself with the first positions in the search results.
An SEO audit and SEO testing: what’s the difference?
Sometimes non-experts get confused about the difference between an SEO audit and SEO testing. The SEO audit is an analysis of the current state of the website manually or using a special tool. This procedure helps to discover whether the pages are indexed, whether meta tags are written for them, whether the images are optimized, etc. In other words, such research helps to identify content gaps or deficiencies in the information architecture.
SEO testing involves tracking the results after changes to assess their impact or effectiveness. A well-tuned QA (Quality Assurance) process for SEO includes:
- Benchmark testing, where two versions of the source code are compared (intermediate and production);
- Testing elements important for SEO (for example, metadata);
- Automation (using tools that collect all changes between preparation and production);
- Monitoring changes when the application is in production;
- An archive of web pages, which contains a history of changes and source code you can return to in the case of a traffic drop.
QA testing helps to identify problems with a website before a product hits the market. The practice of good QA for SEO works as a safety cable, eliminating potential problems and reducing the number of bug fixes.
How often should SEO testing be done?
SEO testing is worth doing as your website is updated. As QA practitioners note, 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.
Fortunately, this is much easier to do, since experts have access to tools that automate the process of collecting data. They identify quality control problems that need to be solved. This makes testers’ jobs much easier, as they no longer need to manually check every page, link, or image.
SEO testing helps to prevent failed migrations, fraudulent redirects, unintentional indexing, disappearing tags, and more. It allows specialists to check important elements for ranking: broken links, missing content, page load speed, missing metadata, and other issues that affect SEO performance.
With so many hands working on a website (developers, designers, project managers, and so on), every new update poses a risk. Since these updates directly affect the sales and success of a business, SEO testing should be an important part of increasing organic search traffic on Google. Therefore, as part of SEO promotion, it is worth tapping into the services of QA specialists who focus on finding defects and improving the quality of software.