Most of us don’t have the volume of search engine traffic to be able to make many meaningful tests of different page titles, which provide the ‘headline’ in Google’s natural (or ‘organic’) results. But we can learn from those businesses which do. One interesting recent piece of research suggests that on Google’s results pages, different rules apply to search ads at the top and the ‘natural’ (free) entries below.
“Users who click on paid ads are not a random sample of searchers”, says the report. “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.”
Now, some people use their AdWords ads to test out page titles. This is a reasonable technique. But the research suggests that they shouldn’t assume the same results will work for their page titles too.
The conclusion is that for your general product pages, don’t try to be too clever or too pushy. Indeed, the report’s author goes as far to suggest that in sales, it’s “incredibly difficult” to beat a simple title formula of ‘Product | Supplier Name’. Of course, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t focus more on the benefits in the headline on the page.