SEO headlines don’t compromise your posts – they empower them.
If you’re not using SEO headlines on your business blog, you might as well not use any headlines at all – which would just be weird and ungainly.
All great content is the sum of its parts – from the copy to the graphics to the design to the calls to action to the social treatment – and the conductive wire running through them is well-researched SEO. It electrifies a post and provides enough sustainable energy to help it outlast the competition in a crowded field.
Unleashing this power literally starts with the headline.
It might not be where you undertake the process – and it doesn’t have to be – but it will be what most readers will see first when they come across the finished product of that post. The catch? They might never come across it if there’s little to no SEO. Forsaking SEO headlines – out of laziness, bad planning, or even vanity – can dismantle the whole operation. All of that work you did to craft a strong how-to article or a list of best practices is in danger of going dark.
We’re here to help you avoid any such outages.
Deciding what you want to convey with SEO headlines is the first step when you’re ready to write them for your company’s posts.
For us – both on behalf of the clients whose stories we help tell and for the purposes of our own blog – that decision comes down to three factors (note: the examples below aren’t from clients’ sites, but we do have a business relationship with a couple of these companies):
1. Most importantly, a keyword that will attract the target audience and keep them reading
Example: “A No-Fail Process For Writing Landing Page Copy That Converts,” from Unbounce
2. Relevance, utility, and authority on the given subject in just a handful of words
Example: “Everything You Need to Know for the Perfect Event Marketing Plan,” from CoSchedule
3. Some combination of a compelling angle, an intriguing turn of phrase, and/or the promise of an entertaining, funny, and informative read
Example: “The Best Hot Chocolate in Boston,” from Wistia
Can you spot the keywords in the above examples? Do they irreparably damage the integrity or awkwardly jam up the flow of those headlines or of the content itself?
(Wistia, who sells video hosting to businesses, isn’t going to gain a ton of targeted traffic from the “best hot chocolate in Boston” keyword, but this post was a part of their entertaining – and humanizing – “Non Sequitur Fridays.”) We did something similar with our Best Ice Cream in Rhode Island post. Sometimes you just gotta have fun!
Satisfying these criteria is achievable, painless, and will help ensure immediate readership, as well as longevity for your posts. Future content creators might even link to your shizz!
Also, we keep these qualities in mind with SEO headlines:
Vocabulary: Mix it up, with road-tested winners like “how to,” as well as more evocative ones like “supercharge.” Eg: “How to Write SEO Headlines That Supercharge Your Content”
Word Count: Stay under 10 words when you can. Eg: “How to Write SEO Headlines That Supercharge Your Content”
Character Length: The sweet spot is around 55. Headlines in the vast majority of Google results top out at 60 characters. Eg: “How to Write SEO Headlines That Supercharge Your Content”
Syntax: Keywords belong as close to the beginning of your titles as possible so that they don’t get chopped off in search results. Eg: “How to Write SEO Headlines That Supercharge Your Content”
SEO Headlines in the Age of the Social Media Audience Grab
A quick story from my work in journalism, a story that many – if not all – reporters have experienced at some point in one form or another.
I remember doing a big interview with a director – not dropping any names, but it rhymes with Barren Baronofsky – and then agonizing over word choice in the headline or lead. I was pumped about the piece. I wanted it to have a lasting impact! So, I went around the office asking other editors for their advice on how to package it. One crusty veteran shook her head and waved me away.
“Next week,” she scoffed, “it will be lining some spinster’s bird cage.”
I slumped my shoulders and trudged away, struggling to hold in the tears … and a decade later was working in content marketing.
[Tweet “Don’t let your blog posts be the lining of some spinster’s bird cage.”]
If I had known then what I know now, I would have SEO’d that interview like a maniac – along with its headline, its subhead, and its photo captions – while conceiving and scheduling dozens of Tweets for it over the course of the next year. I would have teased the piece online a week in advice and then run an extended version. I probably would have won a National Magazine Award, possibly have gotten a couple of books under my belt by age 30.
Let’s see a parakeet drop a deuce on that.
Today, both publishers and companies with original content campaigns who are thriving excel at writing SEO headlines that they can then integrate into their social media strategies. You can have more fun with social, take more chances, try new things, experiment with the Upworthy formulas, because you’ve established a solid, renewable energy source with your optimized evergreen post.
Are you allergic to SEO headlines? In need of some blogeopathic remedies? Check out our services and let us know if we can help!
This article was written in 2016 and has been updated.