Case Study: Split Testing Shows the Best Place for Content on Category Pages

By EXCLUSIVE Insights Team
TOPICSFeatured, Organic Search, SEO

Q: Where’s the best place to put content on my website’s category pages?

We get this question about basic SEO strategy with some frequency. Today, we answer it with data-driven proof!

First off: Keep in mind that this is category-page content. It’s category-specific. It is not content on a homepage, a product-detail page, or a blog. This is the SEO-optimized information about the category and the story you have to tell about the organized collection on the page. Think: “Our men’s t-shirts are super-soft organic cotton. They fit true to size . . . “

We typically see category-page content placed “above the fold” (the area visible without scrolling when you’re on a page) perform better than content found lower on the page (with exceptions). But above the fold means something very different today than it did when it referred to newspapers (Stories considered less important went to the bottom, below the fold.) What’s above the fold on a graphic designer’s desktop monitor is very different than what’s above the fold on that same designer’s phone. Today, above the fold generally means as high as possible without burying the lede or causing distraction or illogical flow. 

For these reasons, we recommend that your website be mobile-first, responsive, employing headers properly, and QA’d on all popular devices. We also generally recommend splitting category-page content so that some is above and some below the images. This increases the chances that a skimming user will read at least some of your content. This strategy also prevents content blocks or image grids from pushing products or copy too far down the page. 

These beliefs and recommendations come from our 24 years in the digital marketing and eCommerce space. We have a lot of experience and knowledge accrued from our decades growing businesses. We also love data and we believe that business decisions should not be based on gut feelings or whims but on proof.

Pre-Test: The Client and The Tools

With the SEMrush SplitSignal tool, we tested our category-page content recommendations using technology that would give us proof. We were able to do this with one of our long-standing clients, Unique Vintage. UV has been an EXCLUSIVE client since 2013. They’d already participated in an A/B test that proved how a single meta-tag addition increased organic traffic by 21% and boosted expected sitewide revenue by 5% within a year. With those results derived in less than one month, Unique Vintage was definitely game for some more split-testing to help them unlock more of what attracts shoppers and makes them click and buy.

The Test: Category-Page Content: Too High, Too Low, Just Right.

  • Hypothesis: Placing content toward the bottom of a category page has little or no impact on SEO performance versus splitting the content above and below.
  • Test: Move the content currently above the products on collection pages to the bottom of the page, as seen below.
  • Run Time: 21 days (01/21/21 to 02/13/21)
  • Test Size: 342 pages (179 variant, 163 control)

Category content SEO

The Results

The variant pages where content was moved from the top to the bottom dropped 4.8% in organic traffic. The projected range for the drop was 1.6% to 7.9%. 

Key Takeaways

The data confirmed that category pages with content above the fold perform better for this website than those with all content below the fold. Now, before you think that was a given, consider the fact that Unique Vintage’s live category pages were not entirely consistent. Some had content above and below the images, others had it just below. Thus, the results of this test dictated whether or not UV should change their content placement. Pretty important.

Next Steps

After the test period, we reviewed all category pages and identified those that didn’t have content implemented above the fold. Given that pages of this layout experience received nearly 5% less traffic than pages with content above the fold, we updated all category pages to ensure that there is a paragraph of SEO-optimized, user-valuable content above the fold and above product images.

The Final Word: We’ve Only Just Begun!

We love working with Unique Vintage and helping them optimize their website, their user experience, and their super-cool business. The two split-tests we’ve run for them so far (meta-tag additions and category-page content placement) delivered revenue-driving actionable insights clearly and quickly. UV will continue testing with EXCLUSIVE and SEMrush using the SplitSignal technology. We can’t wait to find more revenue-drivers for Unique Vintage.

How can we help your eCommerce business? Contact EXCLUSIVE for your free eComm analysis.