Lessons Learned from SEO Tests that Didn’t “Win” – Whiteboard Friday

We all love to take risks and test new ideas in SEO. But what do we do when our strategies don’t yield the desired results? In this Whiteboard Friday, Rand Fishkin shares lessons learned from SEO tests that didn’t “win”.

Cause vs. Correlation

Before interpreting any results from a test, be mindful of the difference between causation and correlation. Just because one test yielded lower results than the other, doesn’t necessarily mean there is a cause-and-effect relationship between the two. To make sure you’re interpreting the right lessons, look for replications in the data by running another test altogether or just reversing the original test factor.

Test What You Can Measure

Before you delve into a test, make sure you have the ability to measure the outcomes. A test is only as good as its results. Evaluate the benefits of each element in the test and how they’ll affect other aspects of your strategy.

Take the Long View

When evaluating the success of a test, don’t just look at the short-term gains. Taking the time to gain a better understanding of who, why, and how your site and strategy is being used will provide greater insight into your overall goals.


SEO tests can help us to better understand our strategies and the effectiveness of different elements. After running a test, take the time to evaluate the lessons learned, even if the results weren’t what you anticipated. By understanding why a test didn’t “win”, you’ll be in a better position to spot future opportunities.