Great headlines are essential for SEO
When you get right down to it, SEO is all about people.
And people love a good headline! We are much more likely to click on a search result if there is a tantalizing headline. A great headline is a promise to your readers. It promises that the answers to their questions lie beyond this search page and are found on your website.
Your SEO headline, or title tag, is your best chance to get a visitor to your web page through a search results page. Why? Because that clickable headline is your best opportunity to convince people to visit your web page.
5 tips for headlines that get clicks
Did you know that the New York Times and other media giants test their headlines? We can learn lessons from watching what is successful for others, and write headlines that are more likely to get clicks from the beginning.
1. First impressions count
Your headline is not just a sales pitch to visit your page. It is the first impression a person will have of your information. The headline sets the tone, and leaves a lasting impression. Make sure your headline creates the right first impression for your readers.
Be honest with your readers in your headline about the information that follows. If your headline is written just to get clicks but doesn't deliver what you promised, you will lose trust and credibility.
Use your best keywords first. Make some time to research keywords before you begin writing. Even a short research session could result in some great headline starters. Use the best keywords that describe the content on this page first in your title tag. Any keywords you cannot use in your headline can be saved for the headings on your page. Keywords grab attention, and help people quickly find the information they want.
You will never get a second chance to make a first impression.Will Rogers
2. Goldilocks your headline
Title tags can be about 60 characters long. Take advantage of that space. Headlines that are too short do not give enough information. Long headlines get cut short by the search engine results page. Your headline needs to be long enough to introduce the website visitor to the information they will find on the page without being so long it gets cut off. "Philosophy" is too short, and does not give your visitor enough information. "You Are the Center of Our Financial Investment Philosophy" gives enough information without being too long, gives context to "philosophy" and involves the reader.
3. How to & why
We can't all be experts on everything. What do you do when you need to know how to fix your toilet or how to use chopsticks? Most of us use our favorite search engine to get our "how to" questions answered. By "us" I mean people, because it is a world-wide phenomenon. We are naturally curious creatures and search engines combined with the massive amount of information available online can give us the answers to all of our questions... almost.
In fact, we are counting on people to remain curious and ask questions. That search leads to people finding our answers to their burning questions — and we need to have a great headline to get them there.
4. By the numbers
Take advantage of numbering your information lists or how-to steps if this headline style is a good fit for the information you are sharing.
- Can the information on your page be presented as a list?
- Can your information be broken down into steps describing how to do something?
"How to" style articles are often a good fit for titles with numbers, but there are many other types of information that can be displayed using this technique. Your headlines can use patterns for headlines that web traffic likes to follow:
- "10 New Music Videos You Don't Want to Miss"
- "11 Tips to Give Your Family the Perfect Thanksgiving Day"
- "8 Ways to Make 20XX Your Healthiest Year Yet!"
- "3 Epic Road Trips Every Foodie Should Take This Year"
Headlines with a specific number of items or steps have a higher chance of capturing your attention. There are reasons why lists are attractive to readers, but to meet our goal we can focus on the fact that data proves this technique works. It does not seem to matter how many steps there are, people will still be attracted to the information because it is defined from the beginning. Not sure if you believe it? Try searching "101 ways to improve" and check out over 3.5 million titles your search engine will return. There is something for everyone.
Headlines with numbers are popular, but not a one-size-fits-all solution. Numbered lists and steps will not work for every article or blog post you write, but keep this headline tip in mind for the content that lends itself to this style. Even when a list or steps make up your page content, you might find a different headline inspires readers to visit your page more than a numbers-related headline.
Tapping into your own energy to inspire readers can be difficult, but it can make the difference between a technically correct SEO title tag and a compelling headline. Use your passion to inspire others to want to read what is waiting for them beyond your headline. Whether you have an excellent idea or important information to share, people will key into your emotion whether it is excitement, concern, enthusiasm, or joy when you share it with them. Help your readers connect with your idea or feel the importance of the information with carefully chosen words that inspire.
Be careful not to confuse inspiration with hype. Your headline is a promise to your reader that valuable information follows. Hype might get readers to your page, but they will lose trust in you if your headline was all hype and there is no delivery of the promised valuable information.
Check it before you publish it
When you have chosen a headline to use for your title tag, review it. Let your mind focus on other ideas or activities for awhile, then ask yourself these questions to see if your headline meets these goals:
- Get reader attention: Does the headline begin with attention grabbing keywords?
- Technically correct: Does the headline fit in the space allowed for SEO title tags?
- Establish reader trust: Does the headline capture the essence of the information on the page?
Avoid misleading headlines by asking people what kind of information they would expect to get with a headline like the one you have chosen. Be open to new ideas if your headline doesn't convey what you expected.