SEO Knowledge Bomb Podcast | SEO Video Show Recaps

Nick Swan 🧪SEO Testing

January 09, 2024 Paul Andre de Vera
SEO Knowledge Bomb Podcast | SEO Video Show Recaps
Nick Swan 🧪SEO Testing
Show Notes Transcript

Nick has been building websites doing SEO and online marketing since 1998.
Most of the time he has been working on his businesses and writing articles about SEO
In 2017, he started building his internal tool to help with archiving Google Search Console data, which has ended up becoming
Please welcome the founder of, Nick Swan!

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Hey everyone, it's me Paul back again with another SEO Knowledge Bomb! Today I had the pleasure of chatting with Nick Swan, the founder of Nick has been immersed in the world of SEO since 1998 - crazy right? With over 24 years of experience under his belt, I knew he would be dropping some serious knowledge bombs.

Let's dive right in. First off, Nick gave us a history lesson on the early days of SEO. Back in 1998, Google didn't even exist yet! At the time, keyword stuffing was the name of the game when it came to search engine optimization. Nick got his start building websites and doing SEO work for his brother's business. He quickly realized he had a knack for it and found it to be really enjoyable - like a fun game trying to reach the top of the leaderboard on search engines.

Once Google came onto the scene and began dominating search, SEO changed quite a bit. No more keyword stuffing! Nick had to adapt and learn new strategies like building high quality links and crafting content to match user intent. Resources like SEO forums, blogs, and Moz really helped shape his knowledge in those early Google days.

Let's fast forward to today. In 2017, while working in the coupon and discount codes niche, Nick started building an internal tool to help archive and analyze Google Search Console data. And that's how was born!

Now onto the good stuff - all the SEO testing tips Nick dropped in our chat.

First, what exactly is SEO testing? It's making some sort of change or modification to a page, then analyzing performance data before and after that change to see the impact it had. This could be something like updating page titles, refreshing content, tweaking internal linking, adding structured data, etc. Anything that could potentially impact rankings or click through rate from the SERPs.

One of the most common types of SEO tests is a time-based test. This is where you compare metrics like impressions, clicks, and position for a page over a set time period before the change to the same length period after. Nick recommends testing over at least a 6 week time frame, but the more data the better.

It's important to watch out for external factors that could skew results, like algorithm updates or seasonal fluctuations in traffic. One way Nick suggests mitigating seasonality impacts is by doing year-over-year testing - comparing September 2022 to September 2023 for example.

When analyzing the data, don't just look at top level metrics like clicks or impressions. You need to dig deeper and look at the full story behind the numbers. For instance, if impressions increase but click through rate drops, it could simply mean you're now ranking for more lower intent queries. The increase in impressions is actually a positive sign in this case.

Beyond time-based testing, Nick also talked about some other cool test types:

  • Group SEO tests: Making a change to multiple pages at once and aggregating the data. Helpful for larger website changes like a full content refresh.
  • URL switch tests: Useful when you want to rename a URL and redirect it. Compares metrics before and after the 301 redirect to the new URL.
  • SEO split testing: Splits a group of similar pages into a test group and control group. Makes a change to just the test group pages, then compares performance between test and control groups.

Nick shared some great advice on what types of things you should actually test. Some top options he recommends are:

  • Page titles and meta descriptions - Test different formats and lengths
  • Content refreshes - Show the impact of updating stale content
  • Internal linking - Prove value before committing to a large scale linking project
  • Structured data - Start with a small batch of pages first
  • New page templates - See how new designs impact SEO before site-wide rollout

And remember, tests that show negative results are just as important as positive results! It's all about learning.

Nick also tipped us off on some optimization best practices he's seen work recently:

  • Shorter, simpler page titles
  • Remove dates from titles if content is old
  • Add video to supplement website content
  • Specialize your SEO skills based on your interests and background

So there you have it - a condensed version of all the SEO testing wisdom Nick dropped in our chat! Hopefully you picked up some useful tips and tactics to start experimenting with on your own sites. As SEOs, we should always be testing and learning. Data-informed decisions for the win!

Alright, that's a wrap for this episode. Big thanks again to Nick Swan from for sharing his knowledge. Have a great rest of your day and I'll see you again next time!