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SEO 21 min read

Maintain Or Grow Traffic To Your High-Potential Content: An SEO Testing Case Study

Voice Search: A Complete Guide For The Hottest Trend
Branko Kral
Director of Content and
Analytics at Chosen Data
Jillian Longo
Technical SEO
at Chosen Data
Fundamentally, SEO testing consists of experiments to find out how to improve your marketing strategies. By including testing in your comprehensive SEO plan, you can avoid unfortunate surprises, refine strategy, and scale faster. The lack of SEO testing in your organic campaigns could be costing you a hefty amount of time and money. This case study explains how you should approach the SEO testing process and why it is integral to your company's success.
SEO testing is highly important because it allows you to discover and test metrics with the biggest potential impact. Bluntly, SEO testing shows you what works. In this SEO testing case study, we dive into the steps we took to find optimization opportunities using Serpstat and the tests we ran in SEOTesting.com for a client in the health/food niche with a large monetizing blog. The metric in question here is the almighty, organic click-through rate.
First, let's lay down some basics regarding SEO testing.
Why is SEO testing important
Summarized data from SEOTesting.com, helping us get a sneak peek of both positive and negative metrics from a handful of completed tests.
A mantra we live by in our professional endeavors is: what gets measured gets done. Testing is an integral step to incorporate into your workflow when attacking new projects and tasks. It can be executed in a variety of ways, but a good place to start is to adapt, is to alter your title tags and meta descriptions on the Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP).

These updates can help match current expectations while getting higher click through rates for your content that has already been ranking. Moreover, these components are the first thing your users see before (hopefully) clicking to your website. In this case, first impressions really do matter.
SEO testing best practices
As you are executing your tests, you want to make sure you are following SEO testing best practices in order to ensure reliability. These best practices allow us to get directional data about our test results that we can act on with confidence. A few to keep in mind are:
forming a clear hypothesis;
segmenting your test groups in control and experimental groups;
sticking to your experiment duration;
making your tests repeated and reliable.
If you would like to explore a comprehensive list of SEO best practices, check out our Complete Guide to SEO Testing.

We aim to make data-driven decisions and test them before any implementation is completed. Our client's large monetizing food blog lives amidst a highly competitive digital space, and although the site currently ranks well, Google market trends for our client's industry are declining. It is imperative to optimize and make improvements to keep the visitation steady.

By using Serpstat, our goal was to find opportunity in the content that is already ranking and see what we could optimize to increase CTR. Once we gathered the suggestions from Serpstat, we tested these by using our testing tool, SEOTesting.com and see whether there are positive or negative outcomes.
Increase CTR by using Keyword Data from Serpstat
Typically known as the "problem", but in our eyes, we see these suggestions for improvement as an opportunity to improve traffic, rankings, overall visibility, and of course, CTR for our client.

Serpstat can be utilized for a myriad of things. For this specific task we honed in on our high-potential content, and identified where it could be improved to generate a higher CTR.

Diving into Serpstat
With our handful of content that had already been ranking in our test sample, we dug deeper into Serpstat and saw if there was some keyword opportunity that we were missing out on.

Spoiler - there was.

The pieces we were conducting keyword research for in Serpstat were mainly blog-style articles and recipe guides. And Serpstat's seamless UI made it very easy to identify keywords that we could use for title and meta updates to then test in our SEO testing tool. Here is an overview of the simple steps we took:
In the keyword overview tool, we typed in the keyword that each piece of content we were already ranking for. We were able to get a grasp on the search volume, competition in the keyword group, and where our content was falling in the mix.
By taking advantage of Serpstat's comprehensive SEO data, we were able to dig further into the organic keywords. We were easily able to find related keywords, related voice queries/questions, keyword difficulty, and Google's position tracking for each keyword.
Once we digested this information, we hand-selected a couple of keywords that the numbers showed would fit best for our content pieces.
How To Create A Content Strategy For A Travel Project Using Serpstat: TripMyDream Experience
The output in Serpstat's keyword overview tool after we typed in a term that one of our pages was already ranking for.
Serpstat gave us rich SERP data results and gave us suggestions as to which pages we should rewrite our title tags and meta descriptions for, and which keywords could potentially lead to a higher CTR in our test sample. We had to further optimize our title tags and meta descriptions in hopes of captivating the audience and driving them to click. This valuable data helped us hone in on the keywords that would expectantly return a higher CTR for our client.
Taking a closer look at Serpstat's keyword position tracking for keyword terms related to our original query search "how many calories on keto".
After repeating the steps mentioned above, we had a couple of terms for each piece of content that could potentially be a "golden ticket" of sorts to increase CTR for these selected content pieces. A few of the keywords we chose to test in our meta descriptions and title tags included:

  • Keto milk substitute
  • Keto milk
  • MCT oil dosage
  • How many calories on keto
  • How many calories should I eat on keto

With SEO testing best practices in mind, we needed a hypothesis that will provide for an actionable SEO test that is specific in both what we want to do,and what effect we think it will achieve. By analyzing our SEO data in Serpstat, it yielded a plan for what steps to take to improve content in order for us to reach its full potential on the SERP. Now, for our hypothesis:
By systematically adding these researched keywords to the respective piece's titles and metas, we should see increases of organic CTR by approximately 15-25 percentage points. In turn, this will lead to higher average positions and organic click through rate.
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The resolution: run CTR tests using SEOTesting.com
With our handful of content pieces, our strategy encompassed optimizing our titles and metas with the stellar keyword opportunity we found in Serpstat.com. We determined this strategy by referring back to our SEO testing best practices, knowing that adapting title tags and meta descriptions would be a profitable introductory step to increase organic CTR. Since our client's website is in the food/diet niche, there were important actions for us to take aside from us simply planting the keywords into our current title tags and meta descriptions. It was imperative that we tailored our approach to this site for the target audience. With saying that, with our list of keywords, we had to keep some important things in mind when we approached our CTR optimizations for each set of keywords we found:
Is the term high-volume or long-tailed and lower volume?
Is the term a voice search query?
Will this variation of the keyword fit the current pages content?
All of these questions we asked ourselves affected how we wrote our titles and metas to ensure that we were making updates as valuable as possible. Looking at trends in the suggested keywords we gathered, it works well to provide a useful portion of the answer to the user's question on the SERP, but create a curiosity gap to entice the user to click.

In our own experience with CTR testing, two weeks seems to be a minimum duration of time to run SEO tests. Although, if you are able to execute testing for a longer duration of time, that is always welcomed as it allows you to gather a larger sample size of SEO metrics to influence your results. For our tests, we decided to run them for a 26-day period. With saying that and SEO best practices in mind, it is important to compare your test CTR to a control CTR of the same time frame. Therefore, we compared our test to the same amount of time (26 days) before we began testing.

SEOTesting.com allows you to setup SEO tests quickly and makes it simple to pick control groups in order to get as close to split testing as possible. Now, if our test in our testing tool comes back and says that we didn't see any significant improvements, we go back to the drawing board and iterate until we do see significant improvements. Then, once we know what works for our client and target market, we can implement these tactics on a larger list of content pieces.
Run SEO tests using Serpstat API
Editor's note:

To make sure that your site is running like clockwork, you need to perform regular SEO audits. You can use the opportunities of Serpstat API to automate your tasks, make it easier, and not waste your time. Whether you are an advanced API user or no, it is simple and clear and will help you perform site audits, especially if you need a swift analysis of the site for errors.

Site audits are essential because they examine the overall state of your site. They may find technical issues in your site structure, pages that should be closed from indexing or that have canonical URLs, images that don't have alt tags, or have irregular file sizes. Serpstat SEO Audits can even show you content gaps or missing info.

An SEO test is necessary for tracking results since a change has been made. You should often look to do an audit and run SEO tests on the fixes the audit suggests. This way, you can estimate the effectiveness of the suggested changes.

You can search for technical issues on the site through the Serpstat API and receive a JSON format response. By the way, the audit documentation is based on Postman, a free program for launching API.
How To Automate Searching For Technical Issues: Leave All Your Work To Our API
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Results from our testing implementation
Eager to analyze our results from SEOTesting.com, we were able to identify which keywords would generate the highest CTR for the pieces in our test sample from our results. Our first test is for a page that details a guide on low-carb milk substitutes.

Test #1
Keyword: keto milk substitute
A summary of our results for test #1, including clicks per day, impressions per day, average position, and click-through rate for the keyword "keto milk substitute".
Just by skimming our summarized metrics, it was easy to see that there was more red than green for our test results. We could say that testing this term didn't quite have the increased CTR we were looking for. In closer investigation of our CTR results, we could analyze what went wrong during our testing period.
CTR test results for test #1 with a decreased overall organic CTR using the keyword "keto milk substitute".
The resulting trend in the line graph above for the term "keto milk substitute" was reminiscent of an uneventful rollercoaster ride (which is okay!). This negative test is just as valuable as a positive test. The largest losses for this specific keyword were between days eight and ten. Overall, our CTR dropped from 16.10% to 14.44%, leaving us with a decreased CTR of 10.31%. However, we fortunately had a couple of terms from Serpstat that we believed could yield a high-potential organic CTR for this page. Without hesitation, we went ahead and tested another term, "keto milk".

Reiterate test #1
Keyword: keto milk
A summary of our testing results for the reiteration of test #1, including clicks per day, impressions per day, average position, and click-through rate outcomes after optimizing with the term "keto milk".
Positive CTR test results for the reiteration of test #1 using the keyword "keto milk".
In the reiteration of test #1, we saw that the higher-volume keyword without the modifier "substitute" performed better over a 26-day period in terms of organic CTR. On approximately half of the days in our time frame, our Test CTR performed better than our Control CTR. Overall, our organic CTR increased by 41.02%.

Test #2
Keyword: mct oil dosage
CTR test results showing an increase in average organic CTR for test #2 using the keyword "mct oil dosage".
For test #2, our results were overwhelmingly positive. On all days, but one, our Test CTR was greater than that of our Control. Overall, organic CTR climbed from 12.94% to 23.17%, making the overall percent increase in CTR a whopping 79.06%. Due to these positive results, there was no need to perform a second iteration of test #2.
A summary of our testing results for the second implementation of test #2, including clicks per day, impressions per day, average position, and click-through rate outcomes after optimizing with the term "mct oil dosage".

Test #3
Keyword: how many calories on keto
CTR test results for test #3 with a decreased overall organic CTR using the keyword "how many calories on keto".
In the first implementation of test #3, we used the keyword term "how many calories on keto". Our test results were negative and showcased our organic CTR dropping from 28.62% to 27.66%. We turned to the list of terms found in Serpstat for this page, and reiterated test #3 using the query "how many calories should I eat on keto".

Reiterate test #3
Keyword: how many calories should I eat on keto
Positive CTR test results for the reiteration of test #3 using the phrase "how many calories should I eat on keto".
In the reiteration of test #3, our CTR grew from 20.85% to 24.56%, with a percent increase of 17.79%. Using the keyword term "how many calories should I eat on keto" somewhat exemplified the impact of Google's BERT update, a pivotal moment in the digital marketing realm. The BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) update allowed Google to adapt to the AI-centered world we're living in, and better-understand natural language; therefore, it made sense that this longer-tailed voice search query yielded a higher organic CTR.
What You Need To Know About Google BERT Update
With these clear testing results from our repeated CTR tests, SEOTesting.com helped us grasp an idea of what can be implemented for future campaigns. We should see decreased time to high-quality traffic now that we took the time to act on results we saw from testing.
The benefits of a test-driven SEO approach and key takeaways
In the SEO industry, research, analysis, and testing are vital to any successful organic campaign. When budgets are tight, but there is a need to continue generating demand, testing your tactics on a sample of content provides the utmost clarity in decision-making. When budgets are generous, SEO testing helps ensure that no dollars go to waste and you scale as far as possible. As SEOs, it is our duty to test, adjust, test again, and repeat this process until we get an outcome that satisfies us and our clients. It is vital that we make data-driven decisions in order to reap any benefits from our hard work. This may seem simple, but these basics lay the foundation for SEO for a reason.

Testing minimizes unpleasant surprises, helps you scale faster, refines strategy, and accelerates the approval process.

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