First, we asked our Twitter followers to vote:
Here’s what other SEO professionals have to share about this test:
Without any second thought, I’ll go for 2nd option “after,” with an h3 tag. But if there is any possibility in the hierarchy, then use h2 instead of h3, as the product title is an important tag.
I would never say no to adding h3 tags
I’m on team h3!
But always checking intuition with experimentation.
Why not use H2? WooCommerce categories use this by default. H3 would be a downgrade 😃
Follow us on LinkedIn to share your thoughts on the next test.
The Case Study
As an SEO, you want to give search engines the right signals and help them understand which content and topics are important on the page. If you’ve been writing or optimizing content from an SEO perspective, you’ve probably already thought about the most optimal heading structure for certain content elements. Google recently reaffirmed that to understand what a web page’s content is about, they look at different things, such as headings, to figure out what is actually being emphasized. Proper use of HTML heading tags can make content more meaningful. In return, it helps search engines understand the page and its purpose a little better.
Headings are defined in the HTML of a web page via <h1> to <h6> tags. They provide hierarchy and help users and search engines read and understand textual content. Headings show which parts of your content are important and how content elements or sections are connected. As an SEO, you want to use meaningful headings to indicate important topics. In terms of hierarchy, <h1> defines the main and most important heading. <h6> defines the least important heading.
For one of the largest ecommerce parties in the Netherlands, OrangeValley wanted to test if adding headings to the product names of the listed products on eCommerce category pages would have a significant impact on organic traffic.
Research showed that websites tend to use different HTML formatting for their product listings. Some use heading tags, such as the <h2> tag:
And some choose to markup the product name within a <span> tag, for example:
And there are many variants in between, so we wanted to validate whether changing HTML markup with heading tags could significantly impact.
The website in question formatted the HTML of their product names as follows.
The products listed on an eCommerce category page are the primary content that users come to the website for. Since this is important content, we wanted to emphasize it. We hypothesized that adding <h3> heading tags to the listed product names would have a positive effect on organic traffic to the tested pages.
We used SplitSignal and a small custom script to set up the test. 600 category pages were selected as either variant or control through stratified sampling. We kicked off the test and ran it for 21 days. We determined that Googlebot visited 95% of the tested pages.
After 21 days of testing, we reviewed the results. We saw that the traffic to the variant pages outperformed the modeled control group, meaning the test is positive. Adding <h3> heading tags to the product names resulted in a 4.3% increase in clicks to the tested pages.
After 12 days, we were able to determine that the increase that we saw was significant. When the blue shaded area performs below or above the x=0 axis, the test is statistically significant at the 95% level. This means that we can be confident that the increase we are seeing is due to the change we have made and not to other (external) factors.
Note that we are not comparing the actual control group pages to our tested pages. but rather a forecast based on historical data. The model predicts the counterfactual response that would have occurred had no intervention taken place. We compare this with the actual data. We use a set of control pages to give the model context for trends and external influences. If something else changes during our test (e.g., seasonality), the model will detect and take it into account. By filtering these external factors, we gain insight into the true impact of an SEO change.
We know the user’s search intent; users who land on a category page expect to see a list of products related to their search query. We also know that Google uses textual content in elements like heading tags to find out what the web page is about. By emphasizing this primary content (products listed), we could indicate its importance, improving relevance in our response to the search queries of users.
Data analysis shows that this test affected impressions and clicks to the tested pages. The tested pages performed significantly better on both metrics.
Category pages of an ecommerce website are often the biggest traffic drivers. Seemingly small optimizations can have a big impact because of the scale at which these pages perform. So as an SEO, you need to think about and experiment with different elements that make up a category page.
Split testing makes it possible to test planned changes at a very detailed level to ultimately find the best possible answer for both users and (search) engines.
Keep in mind that something that works for one website may not work for another. The only way to know for sure is to test what works for you!
Have your next SEO split-test analyzed by OrangeValley Agency.