Headline Split Testing for WordPress
If you’ve been blogging for more than five minutes, you’ll understand the value of a good headline.
Your headline is what every single potential reader sees before they decide to read your content, and its ability to draw attention will to a large extent define how successful your article is.
Writing good headlines is something of an art form – something that takes time to learn; something that is never truly mastered. Having said that, there are ways in which you can boost the effectiveness of your headline writing skills.
Today, I am featuring a plugin that has the potential to not only do that, but also increase the overall click through rates of your blog posts.
Headline Split Testing
Title Split Testing for WordPress is a brand new plugin, having been released mere days ago, and has just 62 downloads to its name at the time of writing.
When it comes to brand new plugins (which I keep a daily eye on), you get a very mixed bag. I tend to put them into one of three categories:
- Completely useless (the majority)
- Some promise
- Pretty darn good
- Plain awesome
After a little tinkering, I placed Title Split Testing for WordPress in the second category. The idea is great, but the execution is just okay.
Let’s take a closer look:
The above is essentially all you see from the plugin. On the Add Post/Page screen, a meta box is added directly below the headline, in which you can place an alternative headline. The plugin will then dynamically serve up the variations to different readers, and track the click through rates.
You can test up to 10 headlines (although why you would want to test that many is beyond me). Once you have attracted a healthy number of clicks, you can then make a decision as to which headline you will go with permanently. So not only can you boost click through rates by picking the most effective headline, you can examine the headlines you have used and analyze why the winning headline was more effective than the loser(s) (and vice versa).
Bugbears and Issues
There are a few things about Title Split Testing for WordPress that I’m not keen on. First of all, and this is a real pet hate of mine, the plugin gives itself its own main menu in the sidebar:
Most of you probably won’t be as irritated by that as I am, so let’s move on. The plugin registers an enormous number of views per headline – way in excess of actual traffic numbers. The FAQ explains this phenomenon:
The plugin measures the number of “Views” based on the number of times a link to the target page is displayed on pages viewed by your visitors. Sometimes there can be multiple links to a post or page on the same page (such as footer and sidebar links), aswell [sic] as links that do not include the actual post title such as “Read More” links. All of these links are counted as “Views”.
We have found that for the majority of websites this does not have any siginifcant [sic] effect on determining the winning headline.
I’m not convinced, and would be intrigued to see how the proprietary systems used by big online publishers handle this issue. I suspect that the developer has run into a bit of a wall regarding this issue, so has chosen to dismiss it as not being a problem.
Finally, the display is hardly pleasing to the eye. The meta box in the Add Post/Page screen could do with cleaning up, and some kind of reports screen might be nice (perhaps a quick way to compare and contrast competing headlines and their associated click through rates?).
Worth a Try?
Ultimately, I consider this a great idea, implemented in a rather slapdash manner.
However, this is a brand new plugin (from a brand new developer), so it may well be that it gets a lot more care and attention in the coming weeks and months. I hope that it does, because it has a lot of promise.
Creative Commons photo courtesy of secretlondon123