Friends welcome back to your SEO Blogging series! In today’s post, we’re talking all about how to write headlines that Google can easily find and that your readers actually want to read! Because that’s exactly what we all want, right?
If you’ve missed the other posts in this series, have a look because we’re breaking down all the essentials of blogging for SEO. We know the blogging is the best way to SEO success, so we want to give you all the goods to make it happen!
So far we’ve talked about why blogging is such a big deal for SEO, a creative way to get endless ideas for your blog posts, and key tips for writing great content. It’s juicy stuff that’ll make an impact on your business, so have a read!
How to Write Great Headlines
The best kind of headline is clear but creates curiosity. It motivates the reader to continue reading and shows that it’s going to be worth their time. The best headlines are also the ones that Google can find–after all most of your traffic is going to come from search engines, so help them find your article by including relevant keywords.
Read on to get more details on how to make all this happen.
Why do headlines matter?
Your headline is just a few words in front of a 750+ word post, but the time you spend on your headline will be disproportionate to the time you spend writing the rest of the post, and that’s Okie Dokie. These headlines matter!
Only 20% of your audience will actually read your post…I hate to break it to you, but it’s true! People are like hunters and gatherers when reading online: they are constantly scanning and searching for what they need, and most of the time they’re not finding it. A good headline solves their problem, catches their attention, and makes it clear the read is worth their time. Oh, and it should easily get found by Google.
That’s a lot of work for one short string of 6-10 words, isn’t it?
Write Authentic Headlines
The #1 rule of writing authentically? Be true. You’re working SO hard in business to build trust with your audience, so why would you ruin that just to get people to read a blog post? If your article needs a headline so dramatic that it’s misleading just to get people to read it, then write another article.
The best headlines have a blend of honesty and curiosity built in, or something that appeals to the reader, like emotion or motivation.
For example, here’s one we recently posted:
Let’s break this down: It gives the reader a good idea of what we’re talking about–the inner workings of SEO as it relates to one client in particular. But it also answers an important question: how does seemingly mysterious SEO work? By answering a question we know our readers are asking, and showing that we’re going to answer it specifically, we build trust and curiosity for our readers.
The takeaway here?
Avoid “clickbait”. Your audience isn’t a lake full of dumb fish easily tricked by a glittery rubber worm. Give your audience the respect of honest headlines, and you’ll be respected.
Use Novelty to your Advantage
Have fun with your headlines! Our brains looooove novelty, so be creative! Feel free fill your headlines with personality. You’ll develop a signature style with your headlines so your audience instantly knows it’s you behind the pen, AND you’ll attract attention way faster!
Your brain on novelty:
Our brains skim over things we’ve read and seen before. It’s a habit developed out of survival–things we already know about just aren’t important to pay attention to, so we focus our attention on new things to determine if they are safe or not.
When you see something new, your attention scanning behavior halts. Your brain was skimming quickly, like flipping through a magazine, but when it sees something truly out of the ordinary, BAM! That thing gets full attention.
Obviously, we don’t need to do this for fear of constant danger anymore, but our brains still do this and you can use it to your advantage in your writing.
- Put a twist on a common saying, like the one above. It’s a surprise for your brain because you think you know what’s coming.
- Use swear words strategically (if it fits your brand). These are so rare, you’ll definitely catch attention.
- Break the pattern–what’s the norm for you, for your industry? Do something different, at least every once in awhile.
Our friends at Think Creative Collective do this SO well, and we love them for it. Their headlines showcase their personality, are unexpected, AND are helpful. It’s the holy grail of headline writing.
My favorite examples of the element of surprise in headlines.
Our New Shed Might be Trying to Kill Us From Young House Love
How to work with a fucking newborn from Think Creative Collective
Each of these is great for their own reason, and I love them all. How can you add surprise to your headlines? For some inspiration on transforming headlines from basic to brilliant, check out this article on Medium.[
SEO Headline Formula
And finally, we come to the most important part of headline writing in terms of SEO. Putting in keywords and getting the length right are key for showing up well in Google, and for getting people to read your posts!
…But just one. Search engines are super smart these days and can deal sith synonyms, so you only need to put in one version of your keyword. It’s also wise to just focus on one keyword–keep it simple here.
Your headline in SEO terms is known as your title tag. The headline you show Google and the one you actually have on your page can be different if necessary, BUT only so slightly. Your title tag should be between 50-60 characters.
Headline | Your Business Name | Keyword
PRO TIP: That symbol you see in the middle there is the “pipe” and you can find it above the backspace (the key above the enter). Sure, you could use a “//” or “•”, but bear in mind that these will take up more pixel space than the “|”, and Google will display only 600 pixels, which comes out to about 50-60 characters.
So there you have it, friends! A guide to writing headlines + titles that increase traffic and boost your SEO.
What headlines can you update based on this information? Do you have any headlines that are working well for you? Tell us in the comments!