Title tags are a meaningful on-page ranking factor and are among the most influential factors in determining click-through rate (CTR) from search engine results pages. Higher CTR not only drives more traffic immediately, it also improves organic rankings when combined with good on-site metrics.
Title tag CTR is also difficult to test: it requires a large number of pages that drive a lot of organic visits, and a pretty big chunk of time — usually around two months to give Google time to index all the pages in the test and then collect enough data to have statistically significant results. A tempting alternative is to use PPC ads to get quick answers about what title tag is best.
Unfortunately, testing at Wayfair.com shows that PPC ads are not always an accurate measure of what titles will perform well in the organic results. The reason is that users who click on paid ads are not a random sample of searchers; they are a biased group. We know they behave differently from overall searchers because they are in the minority of users who click on ads.
And it turns out they respond differently to titles than users who click on organic results — specifically, it appears that promotional messaging (“on sale,” “discount,” “free shipping,” “50% off”) performs far better in paid ads than it does in organic results. Titles that performed best in ads often drove organic users away.
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