What is a mini SEO case study?
As the name implies, this is a simplified case study that focuses on a single part of your overall marketing efforts.
Let’s look at the concept and how to create case studies in more detail.
What We’ll Cover:
- The 5 parts of an effective SEO case study
- Measure CTR
- Measure the impact of moving to HTTPS
- Measure the impact of backlinks
- Auditing your site before a case study
- Additional strategies that work
Your marketing strategies are only as good as the testing that validates them. That’s why you need to conduct a mini SEO case study.
If you’ve ever conducted split testing, then you’re already familiar with one example. The big difference is that the kinds of studies we’ll look at here start with a falsifiable hypothesis.
The 5 Parts to a Great Mini SEO Case Study
Luckily, there is a very simple template that you can easily follow to produce your own SEO case studies.
Let’s break down the template into bite sizes to better understand how the process works.
There are five parts to a well-rounded mini SEO case study:
- Hypothesis – Before you begin, you will need tostart with a hypothesis about how a particular change will impact your metrics.
- Strategy – The strategy is the change that you’ll test. It can be anything that you believe will affect your stats.
- Execute – The execution phase is when you formally roll out the change. You should also wait some time while the change formally propagates and so you can get a measurable sample size.
- Measure – Once your change has been in production for a while, it’s time to measure your results. Here, you’ll use analytics tools to gather key stats from your case study.
- Results – This is the phase where you compare your metrics after the change to your metrics before the change. Then, you can determine whether or not the difference validates your hypothesis.
If that seems like a lot of scientific mumbo-jumbo, don’t worry. We’ll take a look at some concrete examples below.
In reality, though, it’s very simple.
Start with a hypothesis. For example: “Our landing page conversion rate will increase by 1% if we change the color of the CTA button to blue.”
Then, you roll out the change. In this case, your development team would change the color of the CTA button to blue.
After that, it’s important to give your change enough time to gather a good sample of data. At a minimum, you should let the change go on for a week. If your landing page doesn’t get much traffic, though, it might be a good idea to let it run for a while longer. before analyzing the SEO study.
You can use this calculator to get the sample sizes you’ll need for testing.
Once the testing period has elapsed, check your metrics. Use Google Analytics or whichever tool you prefer.
Then, compare your key metrics from after the change to the same metrics from before the change. In this case, you’d compare the conversion rate of the landing page from the time after you changed the color of the button to the rate from before you changed its color.
If you notice that the conversion rate from after the change is at least 1% higher than the conversion rate from before the change, then you’ve just validated your hypothesis.
It’s that simple.
Remember, though: make sure that your hypothesis is both falsifiable and quantifiable. In other words, make sure that it’s something you can either prove or disprove with your test. Also, make sure that your goal has a definite number attached to it (in the example above, the number is 1%).
Your Case Study Should Measure the CTR
When looking at any SEO case studies, you should take a long hard look at your website’s click-through rate.
Let’s say you have engaged in some content marketing effort, and you’re not getting a very good click-through rate (CTR) on one of your articles. It ranks well on Page 1 of the results list, so you’re not sure why your CTR is suffering.
You check Google Search Console and find that the click-through rate on the article is only 5%. You’d like to get it higher.
After you look at the article, you notice that the tile is kind of bland: “Here’s How to Use a Plunge Router.”
You believe that if you change the title to something that’s more interesting, you can increase conversions by 20%.
You come up with a more intriguing title. It will be “7 Ways a Plunge Router Can Make You Look Like a Woodworking Pro.”
So here’s the hypothesis: A better title will increase the CTR on this article by 20%.
You start by changing the title. That’s easy enough to do since you’re using WordPress. You can just edit the title in the back end of the CMS.
Then, you wait a few days for Google to index the change.
After that, you give the new title a couple of weeks before gathering statistics. That way, you can get a large enough sample size.
Once your testing period has ended, you check the metrics. You find that the new CTR is 18% higher than your old CTR.
Although that’s a significant improvement, it’s a little shy of 20%. So your hypothesis has been disproven.
Your Mini SEO Case Study Should Measure the Impact of Moving to HTTPS
Now, let’s move on to another SEO case study example.
Let’s say your website is still using the unsecure HTTP protocol. You believe that if you move to HTTPS, you’ll gain more visibility in the search engine results pages (SERPs) and increase traffic by at least 10%.
That’s an understandable hypothesis because Google tends to reward websites that use HTTPS.
Also, you know that Google Chrome will soon start warning users about sites that aren’t secure. You don’t want potential customers to get anything resembling a warning when they visit your site.
So your strategy is that you’ll move to HTTPS. Your hypothesis is that doing so will give you a 10% increase in traffic.
The execution here is a little more difficult than in the previous sample. To move to HTTPS, you have to purchase a certificate from a trusted authority. Then, you have to configure your web server to use that certificate.
That takes some time.
However, you have a great development team and they get it done in less than a week. Now, you have to wait for a month or so while your website runs with the new protocol. That way, you can get a good traffic sample size.
Once a month has passed, you check the metrics of your SEO case study. You find that your HTTPS traffic is a full 13% higher than it was when your website was using HTTP.
Measuring the Impact of Additional Backlinks
When looking at SEO case studies, you can’t forget about the importance of backlinks.
When you conduct your mini SEO case study, you notice that some of your great content isn’t ranking that well in the SERPs. That’s surprising, because you know for a fact that it’s quality content.
Maybe the problem is the lack of backlinks?
You hypothesize that if you add five quality backlinks to one of those articles that isn’t ranking well, its rank will increase by 20 positions. Currently, it’s sitting at 59.
But how will you get those backlinks? That’s where strategy comes into play.
You decide to go with guest-blogging. That way, you have complete control over where the backlinks appear, and you stay in white hat SEO territory. No Google penalties.
During the execution phase, you reach out to webmasters that you know and ask them about guest-blogging opportunities. Happily enough, you find five that are willing to let you write blog posts for their websites.
You crank out some great content for each site and wait for the articles to post.
Then, you give Google a week or so to “register” the backlinks. During that waiting period, you’ll check some of your tools to see if they’re picking up on the backlinks as well.
Once you’re confident that Google has passed some link juice to the article, you check its rank. You find that it increased 21 positions to 38!
Auditing Your Site Before Implementing A Mini SEO Case Study
Before you dive off into the deep end and start creating SEO case studies, you should first perform an audit on your website.
There are several ways you can do this:
- Content – Take a long, hard look at your web content. Is it truly good for your site? Does it need to be revamped with long-tail keywords? Are there new insights from your audience that should be taken advantage of?
- Internal Links – Are you using links to navigate through your site? If not, then you should be. Internal links keep your viewers on the site longer. You want them to fall down the rabbit hole.
- Editing – If there are any elements on your site that are not helping, get rid of them.
Strategies That Work
There are many ways to go about performing a mini SEO case study. Here are a few to consider:
- Long-tail keyword research
- Optimizing for mobile users
- Use a custom CMS
- Integrate a site-wide keyword strategy
- Remove/merge old sections to support current keyword strategy
- Take advantage of social media sharing for content outreach
- Answer industry-related questions in blog posts
- Add call-to-actions (CTAs) to every blog post
- Use historical data analysis to better understand your audience
Now that you know how to conduct a mini SEO case study, take some time to think about a few hypotheses that you’d like to test out on your own website.
Then, follow that up with formal execution. Finally, test your hypotheses against the measured results, and you will have completed your first SEO case study.