SEO is not usually associated with QA testing. In fact, at most companies, SEO analysts and QA testers work completely separately in different departments. While we’re not advocating for QA testers to replace SEO specialists, it can be extremely beneficial for QA to learn the basics of SEO — and incorporate this knowledge when testing websites.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimization. In a nutshell, the purpose of SEO is to have your website page(s) rank as highly as possible in search engine results.
For example, say that you have an e-commerce site that sells Lady Gaga merchandise. Ideally, if someone Googles “Lady Gaga t-shirt,” your page would be the first result. (Just make sure you’re not sold out — Lady Gaga fans don’t mess around.)
There are a number of strategies for achieving higher ranking with SEO. Some of these include:
Writing quality content that’s appealing to read. This will result in more traffic (people love sharing!). It will also result in more time spent on the page (which search engines take into account, referred to as “bounce rate”).
Using targeted keywords. For example, if you’re hoping to rank highly for the keyword “pop culture merchandise,” you would want to include that on the relevant page on your site. (We’re simplifying things a bit here. But let’s just say that attempting to rank highly for a keyword and not including it on your page isn’t going to help!)
Optimizing page setup. For example, making sure that every page has a good meta description (the description that shows up under page title in search results), images, and the ideal number of heading tags.
These tactics can also change on the fly, as search engines like Google update their algorithms.
Why Should QA Care About SEO?
As mentioned, it wouldn’t make sense for QA to completely take over SEO duties for a company. The QA team has their hands full with writing test cases, executing tests, and reporting bugs. SEO professionals have spent years staying up to date with search engine algorithm updates, best practices, and more.
But QA testers can learn the basics of SEO, and use this insight to further improve the quality of the site. After all, QA’s job is to identify issues — and if a page has bad SEO, many would not consider it to be high quality.
How QA Can Incorporate SEO
There are some pretty simple ways to check for potential SEO issues. For example:
- Meta SEO Inspector. This free browser extension does the heavy lifting for you, and automatically give you feedback on potential SEO issues with meta data and/or HTML tags.
- Yoast plug-in for WordPress sites. If QA has access to the WordPress dashboard, they can see SEO problems with the built-in content analysis this plug-in provides for every page.
- Learning basic SEO guidelines. For example, if a page has no images or is slow to load, it’s less likely to rank highly in search results. (QA testers can also then identify loading issues with performance testing.)
It’s best to check with the product or project manager(s) on a team before you start creating Jira QA tickets for SEO issues. But many will be happy to have yet another great benefit from the QA team. Improving SEO can be the difference between reaching hundreds vs. thousands (or millions!) of users.
The Bottom Line on QA and SEO
Keeping an eye on basic SEO quality doesn’t have to add a ton of time to a QA tester’s day — and a little knowledge can go a long way. While it may never be a central part of the QA profession, SEO can be a welcome addition to a web tester’s tool belt.
Need some SEO analysis in your QA process? Check out our QA testing services. And if you’re looking for a full-on SEO team, we can also refer you to our favorite firm.