Crafting the perfect headline for blog articles or meta tag SEO page titles is more fun than kneading a handful of silly putty. The title begins life as an amorphous blob containing a target keyword we want to focus on, nestled within a jumble of words. Trying to get our target keyword into the title, in the right place and making the title meaningful is quite a challenge. The title needs to be molded into shape so that it conveys the topic succinctly and includes our chosen keyword within a coherent sentence.
The title of a webpage, especially for blog posts, is not only crucial to encouraging visitors to read the page once they are on our website, but it’s also vital to getting visitors to our website in the first place.
Sometimes I’ll spend hours trying to craft the perfect headline for an article. I want the article to grab a person’s attention within 2 seconds. In order to do that, often I’ll spend a lot of time researching in Market Samurai (affiliate) the types of phrases and keywords people type into Google. This keyword research does 4 things for me.
- Pinpoint the *best* keyword to focus on for SEO purposes,
- Get an idea of the competition I should expect from my keyword use,
- Find related topics/keywords that I can discuss in articles,
- Frequently while researching one topic, I find myself getting off course but discover new topics for new articles.
More often that not, the research effort pays off when search traffic starts flowing in.
Crafting the perfect headline is not only essential for getting search traffic to a website but it also makes tweets and status updates far more sharable. The same logic applies to Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising, such as the Google’s AdWords program or Microsoft’s Bing Ads.
SEO Page Titles For Better Click-Through Rates
In the code of a website, we have a meta tag called
title. Google uses this tag as the headline of search results and it is the first, and perhaps only, impression we make on a prospective visitor. Without a compelling title that turns a vagrant into a reader, the rest of our words may as well not even exist.
Would you click on a search result listing like this one? Bad SEO page titles are bad, mkay? However, we can see there are 3 fundamental elements to the search result – title, URL and description.
While all three elements are important in their own right and shouldn’t be neglected in your search engine optimization efforts, I want to focus on the title. I believe it’s the #1 most important meta tag and getting it wrong can cost you valuable search traffic.
The title is essential to attracting the right audience and that audience will likely be searching for something very specific. We aim to capture them by utilizing the best keyword phrase in our headline and main copy of our page.
According to some of the best copywriters, you should spend half of the entire time it takes to write a piece of persuasive content – on the headline. I’ve read this a few times and I believe it’s true if you’re about to spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on a marketing campaign. In the context of website titles or blog posts, I’d suggest tweaking your headline for a good 20 to 30 minutes after you already have your keywords known. Return to your headlines and titles after a few days and tweak them again with fresh eyes.
Let’s look at how bloggers, copy writers, magazine editors and salespeople write great headlines.
When in doubt, start with How, Who, Why, What, When …
One of the most famous ‘How’ headlines is How To Win Friends and Influence People (affiliate). This headline structure is powerful because directly after “how to” is a benefit – win friends. Then after “and” is another benefit. The subtle relationship between the 1st benefit and the 2nd suggests that if you can achieve the first, you can automatically achieve the second.
How about some more …
- How to Save Money and Retire Rich.
- How to Travel Central America on $17 a Day.
- How I Improved My Memory in One Evening.
- How a New Kind of Clay Improved My Complexion in 30 Minutes.
- How an Obvious Idea Made Me $3.5 Million.
- How Moving to Melbourne Improved My Sex Life.
- How Doctors Stay Well While Treating Sick People All Day.
- Who Else Wants a Great Website Themes?
- Who Else Wants More Fun and Less Stress When on Vacation?
- Why Some People Almost Always Make Money in the Stock Market.
- What Everybody Should Know About Writing Great Headlines.
- When Doctors Have Headaches, What Do They Do?
Then there’s lists, which always work great.
- Do You Recognize the 7 Early Warning Signs of High Blood Pressure?
- 11 Ways to Beat the High Cost of Living.
- Five Familiar Skin Troubles.
- Free Book Tells You 12 Secrets of Better Lawn Care.
- 8 Things You Can Do This Weekend to Repair Your Credit.
- 23 Things You Should Never Pay For.
- Eleven Secret Techniques That Make Bloggers Money.
- Lose 35 Pounds in Only 7 Weeks.
- How to Shave 5 Strokes Off Your Golf Score in 3 Days.
Remember, our titles should contain our primary keyword phrase that we want to rank for in search results. For example, let’s craft a headline to include the keyword phrase ‘homemade dog food recipes’. How about:
- 5 Homemade Dog Food Recipes That Improve Your Pet’s Health.
- Homemade Dog Food Recipes For Under $5 a Day.
- How I Pamper My Poodle With Homemade Dog Food Recipes.
- What Every Pet Owner Should Know About Homemade Dog Food Recipes.
Once you get the hang of it, it’s quite easy.
Old SEO Methods – Who Needs ‘em?
You’re probably aware of the meta tag
keywords. This tag was once the darling of SEO best practice. Just include your keywords in the HTML meta tags and boom! You’d rank in the search engines for those keywords. Well, obviously those days are gone and the
keywords tag is completely ignored by the search engines.
Keyword over-stuffing has also fallen out of practice. It used to be common for titles to read:
Keyword 1 | Keyword 2 | Keyword 3 – Website Name
Google prefers to see a structured, meaningful sentence for the title.
SEO Title Best Practice
- Title should be a coherent short sentence.
- Primary keyword should be at the beginning of the title (or close to it).
- Title display in search engines is limited to 70 characters.
Great For Social Media Too
Absolutely everyone should have social media sharing buttons on their blog. Putting SEO aside for just a moment, your page title continues to hold significant importance when a visitor wants to share your page on their social network. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn – whoever – uses the title tag from your page as the status update, as can be seen in the image above.
Another important part of showing up in the search results is to include your target keyword phrase in the body of your page content. Google scans pages of your website to determine the topic. They don’t just look at the
It is not recommended to over-stuff your content with your keyword phrase either. Google is very good at detecting when you are trying to manipulate search results and you may be penalized for it. Google recommends that you write content for the reader, not for the search engines. Good advice.
Tell us in the comments, how long do you spend crafting your headlines? What are your best titles?