Cup of coffee on a table. Photo by Danielle Macinnes

WordPress split testing headlines is an experiment that tests an original headline (the title, excerpt, and featured image of a post) and one or more alternatives of that headline in order to determine which version is more effective in improving your WordPress site.

The Nelio A/B Testing plugin will perform the experiment and return real data that will clearly show which headline version is better at attracting more visitors to your blog. A/B Testing will give you confidence that each change made to your WordPress site is generating more revenue, more subscriptions, and more clicks! Start split testing your post headlines after you have installed, activated, and configured your A/B Testing plugin.

Instructions for Headline Tests

Once you have installed, activated and configured Nelio A / B Testing, follow these instructions to create A/B tests.

Create a New Split Test for Headlines

  1. Under the Nelio A/B Testing menu, click on Tests to view and manage your tests.
  2. Click the Add Test button at the top of the screen.
  3. A pop-up window will open with all the types of tests you can create. Each of them has a name and an icon.
    • Click on Headline.
Selector of test in Nelio A/B Testing.

Name and Define Your Test

First of all, give a descriptive Name to the test you want to create to help you identify it in the future. In addition, on the right sidebar, you will find three additional tabs:

  • Status & Management, where you see the status your test is currently in (DraftReadyScheduled, or Paused) and options on when it should start and end,
  • Description of the test, where you can indicate what you are testing and what you intend to achieve with it,
  • Test Scope, where you specify which pages of your website are affected by this test and which by default indicates that the variants will be visible on all pages of your website. If you want to limit its scope to certain pages, you have a form to define the URLs in which the test should be executed.
Naming a headline A/B test with Nelio A/B Testing.

How to Create the Variants to Test

An A/B test of headlines consists of testing different versions of the title, excerpt, and featured image of a post. Its aim is to discover what combination gets more readers interested in reading it.

Select the Post to Test

First select the post to be tested (called “Control Version” or commonly “Version A”). To do this, you either choose it from the list of options that appears by default, or you look for it by typing its title, its URL, or its identifier.

Selecting headline to test with Nelio A/B Testing.

Once selected, the title, extract, and featured image of the selected post will be displayed. This is what we call the headline.

Selecting the headline to test with Nelio A/B Testing.

Create New Variants

Then create a “Variant B” (or more than one variant, if you wish) of the previously selected headline:

  1. By default, each variant created will be an exact copy of the headline to be tested.
  2. Set the new Title, Excerpt, and Featured Image.
  3. If you want to create more than one variant, click on the New Variant button at the end of the section.
Definition of variants of a headline A/B test with Nelio A/B Testing.

How to Define Your Conversion Goals and Actions

The headline tests have an implicit goal: that the visitors will read the post of the headline shown. In this case, then, a test page visit is counted every time visitors have seen the headline under test, and a conversion is counted every time the post in question is visited.

Headline test conversion goal and actions with Nelio A/B Testing.

How to Start the Test

Once you have fully defined your test, you will see that the status of the test will have passed from Draft to Ready. At that point, you can Start it so that your website visitors can see the different variants that you have created and Nelio A/B Testing will start tracking their actions.

Start an A/B test with Nelio A/B Testing

Start your test

To start a test, check that it is Ready and, if it is, click on the Start… button in the upper right corner. If it was not ready, you can hover the mouse over the information icon that appears next to the Status to see why your test is still a Draft.

If you do not want to start the test directly, but want to leave it scheduled for a specific date, specify it using the Start field in the Status & Management section.

Once the test has started, the plugin will show you its results page and you will see that the status changes to Running.

Important: tests cannot be edited once they are active, but you can pause, modify them and restart them so they continue to run. Of course, depending on the modifications you make, your partial results may be invalid after restarting the test. If that is the case, it is best to start a new test, duplicating the previous one.

Choose the end mode in an A/B test.

When do you want to end your test

You can also define when you want the execution to end, indicating the End Mode of the test:

  • Manual: the test will stop when you click the Stop button, in the list of tests or on its results page.
  • Duration: the test will stop automatically after the indicated time.
  • Page views: the test will stop automatically after reaching the total number of visits you have specified.
  • Confidence: The test will stop automatically when a winner is found in the first goal with the specified confidence level.

How to See the Progress of a Test and Its Results

In the menu option Tests you can see the list of the tests created, the status they are in and the date of their last update. At any time you can see the results of a test that is started or that has already ended by clicking on the View Results link below its name.

Status of the results of an A/B Test.

Summary of the results

In the right sidebar of the results page you will find the Summary of your test with the following information:

  • Status icon. This icon helps you quickly identify the progress of your tests. It is initially in yellow, indicating that there are not enough visits to determine a winner. If the icon changes showing a clock with a heart, there is a possible winner, but statistical confidence is low, so things can still change. Finally if a green icon is shown (with a medal), we have a clear winner. If the icon is red, no alternative is better than the original.
  • Some metadata about your test. Specifically, you can see the status of the test, how long it has been running, when it started and how it ends.
  • The description and scope of the test are also included, if applicable.

Test Progress

The results page shows, in turn, the following information on the progress of a test:

  1. Test Name
  2. Evolution with the conversion rate of the control version and all variants, as well as the total number of conversions and visits to the tested posts.
  3. Two additional graphs showing the conversion rates of each alternative and its degree of improvement over the original, respectively.
  4. For each of the variants of the test we will see a thumbnail image, if available, of the custom post type under test, the number of visits it has received, its number of conversions, the resulting conversion rate and, for all variants other than the original, the degree of improvement that they have with respect to the control version.
  5. Finally, a summary of the conversion goals and actions of the test is shown.
Evolution of an A/B test with Nelio A/B Testing.

Improve Your Web Conversion

You can end a test manually at any time by clicking on the Stop button found in the top right corner of the results page. Remember that a test can also end automatically if the condition indicated in its end mode is met.

After completing a test and to improve the conversion of your website, click on the Apply button of the winning variant (if it exists) and the content of the original post will be replaced with the contents of the winning variant.

Results of an A/B test of headlines with Nelio A/B Testing.

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