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Before you start: if you’re unfamiliar with the principles of statistical SEO split-testing and how SplitSignal works, we’re suggesting you start here or request a demo of SplitSignal. 


First, we asked our Twitter followers to vote:

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This time the majority of our followers were WRONG! Read further to find out why.

But first, let’s see what SEO professionals had to say about the result of this test:

Uroš Stanimirović, Content Writer & Editor at Brid.TV:

The CTR probably decreased without a CTA in the Title tag. However, it would also depend on how relevant (and effective) the CTA was in the first place. The more relevant it was, the higher the drop in CTR would probably be.

Jason Zimelman, Director, SEO and Content Marketing at StatBid:

This probably yielded a positive result. The CTAs are duplicated across all product pages and don’t appear to have search intent so removing them shouldn’t hurt any rankings. The REI brand addition likely improved CTR.

Craig Lawson, President at ClickReady Marketing:

Should not affect rankings. However, the verbiage would have been great to add to the meta description. The CTA could affect the click-through rate. Which indirectly could affect rankings.

Follow us on LinkedIn to share your thoughts on the next test.

The Case Study

Title tags are an important part of on-page SEO because they help search engines understand the content of a webpage and its relevance to a user’s search query. They also influence the click-through rate of a webpage, as they are visible to users in the search results and can help them understand what the page is about and why they should click on it. To be effective, title tags should be clear, concise, and compelling.

The length of a title tag can affect its readability and scanability in search results. A title tag that is too long may be truncated, while a title tag that is too short may not provide enough context for users. 

To optimize the performance of the search results, it’s important to balance the inclusion of important keywords, branding, and calls to action in the title tag while also keeping it concise and readable. With this in mind, a SplitSignal customer, an outdoor recreation retailer with multiple locations in the United Kingdom, decided to conduct a split test to see if shortening the title tags on their product pages would have a positive impact on their SEO performance.

The Hypothesis

The website observed that the title tags of their product pages were frequently truncated in search results, leading to incomplete descriptions or the brand name being omitted.

They believed that by removing the call to action (“Price Match + 3-Year Warranty”) from the title tags of their product pages, they could create clearer and more readable title tags that were less likely to be truncated in the search results. 

They hypothesized that this would have a positive effect on their organic traffic, as users would be more likely to understand and engage with the content of the webpage. 

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* In the example of the control group, the brand name was truncated in the search results.

The Test

To evaluate the impact of shortening the title tags on product pages, a split test was conducted using SplitSignal. A total of around 15,000 product pages were selected as either control or variant. The page titles for the variant pages were then shortened by removing the call to action (CTA). The test ran for 22 days, during which time Googlebot visited around 80% of the tested pages. A script was used to monitor whether the shortened title tags were being displayed in the search results, and it was confirmed that the changes were being reflected in the search results.

The Results

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The results of the split test showed that shortening the title tags on the product pages by removing the call to action resulted in an estimated 6.6% increase in clicks. This increase was found to be statistically significant at the 95% level, as indicated by the blue-shaded area falling below or above the x=0 axis in the analysis. These results suggest that the modified title tag format will have a positive impact on organic traffic to the product pages of the website and that this effect can be confidently attributed to the changes made to the title tags.

Note that we are not comparing the actual control group pages to our tested pages. but rather a forecast based on historical data. The model predicts the counterfactual response that would have occurred had no intervention taken place. We compare this with the actual data. We use a set of control pages to give the model context for trends and external influences. If something else changes during our test (e.g., seasonality), the model will detect and take it into account. By filtering these external factors, we gain insight into the true impact of an SEO change.

Why

As mentioned, it’s important to carefully consider the content of a title tag in order to maximize its effectiveness for both search engines and users. By including important keywords, branding, or calls to action, a title tag can help improve the visibility and relevance of a webpage in the search results, as well as encourage users to click through to the webpage. In the case of the website in question, shortening the title tag by removing the call to action had a positive impact on SEO performance. This suggests that carefully balancing the inclusion of important elements in the title tag with the need for conciseness and readability can lead to improved performance in the search results.

We know that the original title tags with the call to action were too long, leading to truncated snippets in the search results. This can make it difficult for users to read, scan and understand the content of the webpage from the title tag, potentially leading to a decrease in clicks and engagement. However, in the case of the website in question, which is a well-known outdoor brand, the positive impact of the shortened title tags may have been strengthened by the recognition and reputation of the brand.
Another factor that may have contributed was the fact that the call to action was also included in the description of the search result, which may have made it redundant to include it in the original page title. By including the call to action in both the title tag and the meta description, the search result may have appeared cluttered and less readable to users, potentially leading to a decrease in clicks and engagement. 

The analysis of the data from the split test showed that it had a significant impact on the click-through rate (CTR) of the tested pages. However, there was no statistically significant increase in impressions compared to the control group, as determined using the SEO A/B test analyzer. Also, you can learn more about the analyzer here

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The lack of a significant increase in impressions suggests that the observed increase in clicks was due to the behavior of Google users rather than an increase in the visibility of the tested pages in the search results. This highlights the importance of understanding user behavior and what factors influence their interactions with search results snippets. By considering what users expect and find appealing, it may be possible to improve the performance of a webpage in the search results by increasing the likelihood of users clicking through to the webpage.

In summary, the results of this split test indicate that shortening the title tags on product pages by removing the call to action can have a positive impact on the performance of those pages in the search results. It’s essential to consider the length of the title tag carefully and to strike a balance between including important information and avoiding truncation in order to optimize the performance of a webpage. 

It’s worth noting that the most effective strategies for a particular website can only be determined through testing and analysis. What works for one website may not work for another, and it’s important to conduct experiments and measure the outcomes in order to gain a better understanding of what works best for a specific website and target audience. By conducting these experiments and analyzing the results, it’s possible to make informed decisions about how to optimize the website and drive more organic traffic.





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