What difference does Search Engine Optimization really make? Is it worth spending the time and money on SEO? From experience it is obvious that SEO is an effective activity however I thought it’d be fun to compare two identical websites; one with a bit of SEO performed and one with very little SEO.
I have set up two websites which will have the same content, structure and underlying technology. The basics of the experiment are thus:
Objective: Determine what, if any, Search Engine ranking benefits basic SEO affords a website.
Method: Set up two identical structured websites running on WordPress. The content will be identical aside from the SEO elements listed in the Limitations below. The websites will be hosted in the U.S.A. and will be configured on the same time-zone.
Measure: The number of visitors referred by Search Engines in any weekly or monthly measurement period.
Limitations: SEO activities on the optimized site will include; meta tags, ‘pretty’ URLs, updated Sitemap.xml, sitemap page on the site, robots.txt, some link promotion (in the form of my adding the link to a very few external Sites), Social Network bookmarking and sharing icons available, use of Creative Commons licensed images, pinging of ping-o-matic and enabling Feedburner PingShot, adding Website to Technorati and MyBlogLog, adding Site to DMOZ.org (well, attempting to anyway), ‘related articles’ links on each Post.
As both Sites will have the same content there is the possibility of being penalized by the Search Engines for having duplicate content.
The names of the two websites are:
http://www.jacks-travel.com : Non-optimized Travel Information Site.
http://www.harrys-travel.com : Optimized Travel Information Site.
I’ll post updates as to the ‘going-ons’ of the SEO experiment …