SEO Split-Testing [Case Study] “Replacing ‘You’ll Love in 2021’ with ‘Online’ in the Title Tag for Category Pages”

Brian Moseley

Sep 01, 20213 min read
SEO Split-Test Replacing “You’ll Love in 2021” with “Online” in the Title Tag for Category Pages

Before you start: what do you know about SEO split-testing? 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 how adding a cocktail emoji 🍸 to the title for recipe pages of a marketplace site would impact organic traffic.

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Follow us on Twitter to participate in the next poll @SplitSignalhq

44% of our followers guessed it right, the test result was positive.

Read the full case study to find out why.

The Case Study

Hello again, SEO friends! Do you have title tags on your website? Have you read SEO articles proclaiming that a certain title tag length is better than another? Read on, as we decided to test a theory on an actual ecommerce website with real revenue implications, and we’ve uncovered something we think you’ll find compelling!

Firstly, there are a few things you should know before we get too far into this case study. This particular test involved a national native ecommerce seller of discounted products for the home. More specifically, the test was run across a sample of approximately 5,000 department, category, sub-category, and brand pages, with the control totaling around 45,000 pages.

The Hypothesis

This particular website had meta/page titles formatted in a manner similar to the following:

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We had the hypothesis that shortening the overall title tag, as well as removing the year, would have a positive effect on the aforementioned pages’ ability to rank, and naturally, the sidecar benefits of improved ranking — increased impressions and click-through rates.

The Test

We used our client-side SEO testing tool, SplitSignal, to remove the trailing copy after the product description, as well as the vertical pipe “|” separating the brand name. In the above, it would be the “Product Name You’ll Love in Year | Brand Name,” which we replaced with “Online at Brand Website” to get the following:

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The Result

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SplitSignal ran this test over 28 days and what we found was a statistically significant, POSITIVE result for the client. More specifically, there was a 10.5% increase in organic traffic to the test group, when compared to the control over the same time period!

The results quite clearly speak for themselves. We observed statistically significant increases (outside of normal seasonality) in average ranking, impressions, and click-through rates! We pulled the evidence into Google Data Studio to give you a look (please note the overall downward trend is seasonality — and in all charts, the blue line is the test group, the turquoise line is the control group).

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Explanation

It can be hard to believe sometimes. The simplest changes can still have significant impacts. While we believe content is king, tried and true principles of SEO still make a big difference in your efforts.

Are you still being told SEO changes can take months and months? Some can, but this was quick. The above experiment took very little time to form a hypothesis, implement the test in SplitSignal, wait a few weeks for the results, and get an easy change to implement sitewide. Shazam!

Wait, what? Google often ignores meta titles and opts to choose their own page title, so how can the page title still be this important? You may be asking yourself that very question.

Because it is. I realize that’s a terrible answer, but honestly, the data doesn’t lie.

This particular test focused on removing the irrelevant copy from the page title and was more marketing copy than anything else. By removing it, we feel it made the copy more topically focused and relevant to the content found on the corresponding pages, making it more relevant to not only the user but to Google.

And Google rewarded this change with a lift in all the important organic traffic numbers as already mentioned above.

Now before you go and shorten all your meta titles, or start messing with your own titles, remember, this test is isolated to this particular web property, and you should also test changes to your own titles before implementing across an entire website.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments or share your opinion on your favorite social media channel.

Have your next SEO split-test analyzed by LOCOMOTIVE Agency.

Author Photo
Brian MoseleyGo-To-Market Lead for SplitSignal — Semrush’s new SEO split-testing tool which helps growth marketers understand which on-page SEO changes will drive the most organic traffic.
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