7 Ways to Split Test Your Blog Post Titles (for More Traffic)

Houses lining Damrak canal in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Houses lining Damrak canal in Amsterdam, Netherlands

I’m often amazed at blogger ingenuity.

I wish I could take credit for much of what I do, but I can’t.  Most of what I do is a result of reading about blogging by other bloggers.  I’ve also bought my fair share of excellent courses.

I try a lot of things that makes sense to me.  I avoid a lot of advice too if it doesn’t pass my sniff test.  Anything that is attempting to game search I avoid.  I’ve done that years ago and it didn’t end well (for me and millions of other website owners).

Once in a while I read about something that is super smart and makes total sense.

Split testing blog titles in Google search is one such example.  When I learned about that, I knew it was a great way to increase traffic quickly with very little work.  All that you need to do is set up a split test (30 seconds), wait a couple of weeks, and choose the blog post title that performs best.

What is blog title split testing?

It’s using software that displays different titles in the SERPs and tracks the clickthrough rate (CTR).  CTR is the percentage of clicks you get.  For example, if you get 18 clicks for every 100 impressions in the SERPs, that’s an 18% CTR.

While split testing one blog post won’t make a huge difference.  When you do this across hundreds of blogs posts, even a small percentage improvement can generate a lot additional traffic.

However, many of my tests don’t result in a small improvement.  Many result in huge improvements.  Likewise, many titles I test perform worse, which is also helpful. This helps me figure out what types of titles to avoid.

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Here are a few examples of test results:

Blog title split test results examples

Although it says “insignifant” I concluded the volume of impressions and clicks were sufficient to come to a conclusion.

As you can see, the improvements from this smattering of tests range from a paltry 7.14% to a whopping 162%.

FYI, I have many tests that resulted in a lower CTR.  It’s not as if every test is a winner.

The long term benefit of this, aside from more traffic and perhaps higher search rankings (due to better SERP CTR) is that I will know what types of titles perform best and which to avoid.  This way I can write better titles as I publish new content.

Now to the point of this article.  What are your software options for split testing blog titles?

Here they are.

A/B Rankings

A/B Rankings is a paid service that allows you to test and change the title of your page. It accomplishes this by using a JavaScript snippet to replace your page title and meta description with alternative versions. The title and meta data are the first thing potential clients see in search results, and the most important elements to A/B test.

IMPORTANT: This is the software platform I use.  It actually split test titles in the SERPs (not just on your blog).  For the money, features, ease-of-use and performance, AB Rankings is the best blog title split testing software platform.  I use the Agency plan so I can run split tests across up to 10 websites.

The importance of being able to directly test the headlines that appear in Google’s results cannot be overemphasized. Because of the way A/B Rankings makes changes directly to your site’s HTML, your changes appear directly in search results. This sets the software apart as an excellent choice for optimization, both for search results and on-page conversions.

Read my full A/B Rankings review here.

Clickflow

Clickflow is an A/B testing service that emphasizes its time-saving capabilities. In addition to changing your page’s title and meta description in the SERPs, Clickflow allows you to test groups of pages at once. The results of your tests are automatically recorded, and displayed in a revenue calculator that shows how much the increased traffic will improve your company’s actual profits.

Clickflow is a useful tool, but is not designed for startup businesses. The website suggests investing in Clickflow after you are consistently generating 25,000 visits from organic traffic each month, and after you have figured out your main marketing strategy. However, if your business has already reached a mid line level of success and you are looking to further optimize, Clickflow is a surprisingly robust option. It also makes a great choice for an SEO company looking to optimizing an existing client site; Clickflow works well with legacy platforms, and provides statistics in a way that will convince clients to invest in further optimization services.

IMPORTANT:

  • I used Clickflow and it works great.  The only problem is it’s way too expensive; far more costly than AB Rankings.
  • Like A/B Rankings, Clickflow split tests blog titles in the SERPs (this is relevant because other options below do not split test in the SERPs and only split test on your site… which is pretty much useless).

YoRocket

YoRocket is a WordPress plugin made to improve and test blog titles. Once installed on your site, the plugin rates each of your blog post titles for effectiveness, and suggests alternatives that may have a better click through rate. These alternatives are based on features such as character count, passive or active voice, and even how personal the headline sounds, all calculated by YoRocket’s engine. You can also test two titles against each other; the plugin will tell you, by click through percentage, which one has performed better. These features are all performed in WordPress’s back end, so you don’t need to leave your site to view data or make changes.

Although not as full-featured as some of the alternatives, YoRocket is a direct solution that works particularly well for small or new blogs. The post title isn’t just changed on the blog page; it’s also changed in Google search results. As such, this plugin is best for authors who have existing and effective on-page content, and simply need to improve the rate at which visitors click the title and actually view the page.

IMPORTANT:

  • I tried YoRocket and it didn’t work for me.  There may have been a conflict with a plugin, but since A/B Rankings worked perfectly, I couldn’t be bother to troubleshoot the plugin conflict.
  • YoRocket, if it works for you, also split tests blog titles in the SERPs.  Conceptually it’s great.  As a plugin, it works in the backend of your website which is not as convenient as A/B Rankings or Clickflow.  You must go into each post separately to set up a split test.

Thrive Headline Optimizer

Thrive Headline Optimizer is another WordPress plugin that allows you to split test multiple headlines. Unlike YoRocket, Thrive’s optimizer doesn’t actually change the title in Google’s search results. Instead, it allows you to split test as many headlines as you can think of, and then keep the one that delivers results. The plugin also offers detailed reports of any tests conducted and will let you bulk test multiple pages at once. Users can decide all of the details, including what metrics they want to test for, how many tests to run, and how those tests are conducted.

Thrive’s optimizer really shines on the customer support end. The license comes with extensive tutorials, a community forum, and a year of free technical support. As a bulk headline tester, the plugin is perfect for an author with an extensive backlog of posts to optimize and who wants to maintain control over the process, but who hasn’t used this type of software before.

IMPORTANT:  I like some of Thrive’s products, but this one doesn’t help much because it only split tests blog titles on your site for website visitors.  It does NOT split test in the SERPs.

Nelio Software

Nelio Software is a full-featured A/B testing package for WordPress. Unlike some of the other plugins listed here, Blog title split test results examples jan15-min. When you want to test blog headlines, the software asks for alternatives of the post headline, image, and description. These alternatives are then run and compared for the defined testing time. The report contains click-through data for all alternatives, and if applicable, will designate a clear winner with a #1 badge.

Nelio has a focus on conducting A/B tests in a way that won’t negatively impact your search results. A large part of this is completing an experiment quickly and applying the new result as soon as possible, so that Google users are seeing the same content they previewed in the search engine. Nelio’s software guesses how long a test will take, and also notifies the user if insufficient data has been gathered to complete the test.

Overall, Nelio is an effective piece of software that works for many different types of business. The broadness of features makes it a little much if you only want to split test titles, but if you are ever planning on expanding your A/B optimization, Nelio is a great place to start.

IMPORTANT:  This does not split test in the SERPs (it’s like Thrive Headline Optimizer).  However, you can split test many parts of each page so if you’re looking for a more comprehensive split testing tool for your entire article or landing page, this is a good option.

Optimizely

Optimizely is an extremely extensive piece of SEO software that does everything from running experiments to adding recommendations for specific users. As a headline A/B tester, Optimizely might be a bit of overkill, but the analytics features it offers seem quite worth it.

Should you use Optimizely for your headline testing process, you can expect the standard process of adding alternatives and running an experiment to see which headline gets more clicks. Experiments are run through the Optimizely Stats Engine, which claims to deliver faster, more accurate results. Of note are the always-valid results, which lets you see a preview of the test before it is completed; the results are given immediately, and improved in quality with each new visitor to the site.

With so much focus on the different A/B features the program can offer, it’s easy for headline testing to go forgotten. But the headline is the first thing a visitor sees, even before they’ve visited the site; as such, even a large-scale software like Optimizely makes sure your headline gets the attention it needs.

IMPORTANT: Does not split test in the SERPs, but offers a lot of other split testing features you might find useful.

A/B Press Optimizer

A/B Press Optimizer is another WordPress plugin that focuses on optimizing your blog posts. One of the Press Optimizer’s primary features is its unlimited nature; you can run as many different tests you like on as many features as you like, and stick with the ones that work. A/B Press Optimizer also offers real time reporting, letting you see experiment updates while a customer is on your site. And finally, the software lets you schedule an experiment, so you can test different headlines during a period you know your blog will be particularly active.

Like many of the options listed here, A/B Press Optimizer is concerned with what happens while a customer is on your site, and not inherently how they got there. Although it doesn’t apply changes directly to Google search results, it supplies quite a bit of user demographic information. It also works seamlessly with your existing WordPress theme, meaning it won’t break your website every time your make a change. Overall, the A/B Press Optimizer is a strong competitor for the larger optimization software companies, with all of the necessary features, plenty of data, and none of the flack.

IMPORTANT:  Does NOT split test titles in the SERPs; only on your site.

Is split testing blog titles worth it?

Yes, on so many levels.  Here are benefits of split testing blog titles.

  1. More traffic:  If you increase SERP CTR, you get more traffic for every 100 impressions in the SERPs.
  2. Better search rankings:  I have no proof, but I’ve read that this can happen and that is if a blog post performs well in the SERPs, Google may bump up its rankings.
  3. Learn what types of titles work:  I don’t intend to use A/B Rankings forever.  Once I get a sense of what types of titles perform best across all my sites, I’ll just use those titles as I publish future content.  At some point there won’t be much else to test.

IMPORTANT:  One very important thing to keep in mind when setting up your tests is to ensure you don’t change your main keyword(s) in the title.  This could have a disastrous effect by losing rankings in the SERPs, which is an outcome you definitely want to avoid.

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