{{ searchResult.published_at | date:'d MMMM yyyy' }}

Loading ...
Loading ...

Enter a search term such as “mobile analytics” or browse our content using the filters above.

No_results

That’s not only a poor Scrabble score but we also couldn’t find any results matching “”.
Check your spelling or try broadening your search.

Logo_distressed

Sorry about this, there is a problem with our search at the moment.
Please try again later.

Multivariate testing is one of the most powerful tools available to online publishers. But many of them don't use it for various reasons, from lack of knowledge about multivariate testing to lack of simple testing solutions.

At a weekend hackathon event, a couple of developers decided to change that by building a Headline Split Tester WordPress plugin that gives WordPress publishers the ability to set up A/B testing of their post headlines.

One of the developers explained on his blog:

When you set the alternate headline, we will A/B test your original headline and your alternate headline until one is deemed the winner (most clicks out of X total impressions shown).  Then we show that headline going forward.

Simple? Yes. But that doesn't mean WordPress publishers can't benefit from using the same sort of tools larger publishers increasingly use.

One of those large publishers, The Huffington Post, was actually the inspiration for the plugin. As the plugin's developers note, the average blogger or small online publisher may not have the resources, knowledge or desire to implement similar A/B testing using solutions like Google Website Optimizer, which may be free and relatively easy to work with, but require some technical skill and labor to implement.

If it becomes popular, the Headline Split Tester plugin will probably be the first introduction many publishers, particularly smaller ones, have to multivariate testing. But there's no reason the relationship should end there.

There's plenty of opportunity to extend the functionality currently offered. For instance, testing could be conducted across multiple groups, with each group consisting of traffic from unique sources (eg. organic search, social networks). There's the potential to integrate testing with data from third party services offering APIs (think analytics and advertising platforms). And, of course, split testing could even be applied to post content itself. As Joshua Benton at the Nieman Journalism Lab notes, there's another, more sophisticated WordPress multivariate testing plugin in development as well.

While there is some debate in old media circles about this sort of thing, at the end of the day, when done thoughtfully, multivariate testing has the potential to help publishers produce better, more relevant content. And that's good for everybody.

Patricio Robles

Published 25 November, 2010 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2380 more posts from this author

Comments (8)

Comment
No-profile-pic
Save or Cancel
Avatar-blank-50x50

Gabriele Maidecchi

Not the first time I read about this plugin in the last couple of days, but there's a doubt I still have unresolved: is this gonna affect SEO negatively?

over 5 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Jon

nah it'll be sound Gab. Take it easy.

over 5 years ago

Joe Friedlein

Joe Friedlein, Director at Browser Media

We are big fans of multivariate testing and massive fans of Wordpress but are not wholly convinced by the logic of split testing titles for posts - is it not going to cause all sorts of issues with the permalink? We can only assume that you will have to choose one permalink to use as it would be problematic to use different urls for the same content. It is also important to establish what you are actually testing - if it is ranking success, then having a post title that is different to the permalink (assuming the permalink stays the same) is surely likely to be less successful that a post that has the same keywords in both the title and the permalink? Would be interested in exploring it in more detail but can't help feel that this is going to potentially cause confusion. Happy, as always, to be proven wrong.

over 5 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Outi-Maaria Palo-oja

One stupid question: Does Google and others impose a penalty for publishing the same content under two different titles?

over 5 years ago

Jean De Clerck

Jean De Clerck, Manager at Conversionation

One way to know: test :) Will report soon.

over 5 years ago

Jean De Clerck

Jean De Clerck, Manager at Conversionation

Tested. It's quite simple and basic. It shows the two headlines and the one that gets most clikcs "wins" (you see the data of how many times each times each headline has been clicked (to see the clicks of headlines of older posts that you want to test, it will obviously count from then on, after installation). Permalink doesn't change. However, and this is reason why I uninstall now and won't test SEO impact: when the alternate headline shows, all "likes", tweets, stumbles etc. dissapear, for instance in Topsy and Digg Digg.

So: still work to do. Nice initiative though.

over 5 years ago

Johan de Keulenaer

Johan de Keulenaer, Senior Director - Business Consultancy at These Days

Good thinking, why didn't we think about that before :-) Nice! @JP: Curious about your findings.

over 5 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Outi-Maaria Palo-oja

Thanks Jean for testing. Good to know that counting of tweets etc. starts from zero with alternate heading.

over 5 years ago

Comment
No-profile-pic
Save or Cancel
Daily_pulse_signup_wide

Enjoying this article?

Get more just like this, delivered to your inbox.

Keep up to date with the latest analysis, inspiration and learning from the Econsultancy blog with our free Daily Pulse newsletter. Each weekday, you ll receive a hand-picked digest of the latest and greatest articles, as well as snippets of new market data, best practice guides and trends research.