At a time when companies are spending large amounts of money optimizing and split-testing content, figuring out a method to rapidly increase the number of blog post titles that you can test each week is incredibly valuable for a publisher.
FiveThirtyEight – a website that focuses on data analysis related to politics, economics, and sports – has found a way to take a single blog post and then use that post to test dozens of potential titles at a time. And they do this with only a small team of writers, a timely topic, and a simple WordPress plugin.
In this post, we’ll look at what they’re doing and how their strategy can benefit you.
The FiveThirtyEight Title-Testing Formula
While I wouldn’t say I’m obsessed, I’ve had a close eye on Twitter on the nights of every caucus and debate this past spring. Sometime during these debates, I realized that I had clicked on about 6 tweets from FiveThirtyEight during a single evening and I had to stop and applaud what they were doing – not just what they were reporting, but how they were reporting it.
Consider this blog post from March 22, which covers the primary election results in Arizona and Utah. Between 10 pm and 2 am, three writers collaborated to post minute-to-minute updates on electoral resu
lts as they unfolded. They even bantered back and forth throughout the process, sometimes treating the post more like a forum than a pointed blog post:
With every new update, the FiveThirtyEight team shared the post on Twitter as if it was a completely new post. Each tweet shares the same hashtag, but the live-blog format let them break down a single post into chunks and tweet them individually as the night’s events unfolded.
The genius part to me is that all of their tweets were bite-sized chunks of information, but all of them pointed back to the same piece of content – at least as far as Google and WordPress are concerned.
Why does this matter?
Because testing dozens of posts with 50 words of content each makes for bad UX and terrible SEO… but managing them as one big page improves both.
This simple strategy let FiveThirtyEight share 26 different updates that all linked to one URL. Each entry had its own jump link, such as this one:
And after each update, the team hard linked tweets to different post sections — each of which had their own title and description in the Twitter preview as well: