Google tends to reward articles that rank high on the social sharing agenda. This means that when you are writing headlines, they need to be ones that will be caught up and become viral on social media. For people to engage with your content, it has to be useful, newsworthy, sensational and compelling. Buzz-worthy headlines that also direct people towards life improvement will show up more readily on search engine page responses.
There are a number of considerations you should take into account when formulating headlines for SEO and to get them shared around on social media platforms. Have a read below at the top ways to crease the best possible headline:
Tip #1: Understand Your Audience And What Drives Them
Understanding your readers means really wanting to engage with the things that matter to them, and how to best improve their lives. Understand who they are as people, and what kinds of problems that they have, and what kind of information would make their lives easier. Marketing Insider Group recommends looking at all of the demographic information around your target group, and seeking ways to respond to their dilemmas.
You will always create share-worthy content when you solve a problem. Are you writing for stay-at-home-mothers, same-sex couples, students, double-income-no-kid-couples, seniors, college students or families? Understand what type of daily lives these people have, and cater to what matters to them.
Let’s take an example from a wedding directory website, when the website creates content that satisfies needs of their audience, i.e. a blog that lists a number of ways to save money on catering for their weddings. Brides and grooms will share this around, and the site will get backlinked. The headline for such an article would immediately grab their attention, and work to a formula that has proven effective for a long time.
Tip #2: Formulas For Writing SEO Headlines Help Create Share-Worthy Content
Formulaic articles that have worked in engaging a lot of attention that OnCrawl recommends includes:
The secret to
Reason it works: the readers believe they are going to discover some privileged and exclusive information, and it is compelling.
Example: The Secret to Social Media Marketing
How to (specific task) that (rewarding benefit)
Reason it works: provides a reward for the reader, and helps the reader to go through the process of making something easier for them. Engages them, particularly when asking for comments and audience dialogue.
Example: How to Bake a Cake that your Children will Love
How to (desired result) without (painful objection)
Reason it works: people want to get an easy reward for something that they do, and want to avoid too much pain and sacrifice in the process of getting what they want. Think about diets. People don’t like diets per se, they are too restrictive.
When something is offered like losing weight, and still allowing for indulgent treats and to trick the mind into thinking that something is simple, you are creating an attitude of success. People want simple, easy and convenient, and to avoid pain and self-discipline. Content that delivers this gets shared. The headline just promises what the follow up is.
Example: How to Lose Weight Without Going to the Gym
(Do something) like (world class example)
Reason it works: you are offering to the reader that they can be as good as a particular expert on something, and create in them a mind for success and positive thinking. This compels readers on, because to be successful like another great thinker creates credibility within their social circles. Success is often emulated and refined, not created originally.
Example: Cook Dinner like a True Masterchef Winner
What you need to know about
Reason it works: if people subscribe to a certain blog, or have an interest in a particular field or a niche, this kind of headline creates a spark that the person will require this knowledge in order to avoid being seen as ignorant on the topic.
To stay ahead of information in a particular field is to be cultured. People were often maligned for being ignorant of current events prior to ongoing social media evolvement, however now with the mass media having less cultural effect, people are tending towards only paying attention to the things that truly interest them.
Example: What you Need to Know About the Latest Developments in Sun Care
Tip #3: Keywords Must Be Included in Headlines To Be Ranked
Relevance is key when Google sends bots out to scour internet sites. SEO content must be relevant to the search terms. Google Keyword Tool aids in helping to create a series of keywords relevant to the topic, and provides the number of organic searches for a particular keyword/content set.
When writing headlines, ensure that you consult a good keyword research tool. Make sure that when people are searching for information on Google, or other search engines, that your results are the ones that are displayed. You can do this by ensuring that the most relevant keywords are embedded in your headline.
Tip #4: Writing Styles Will Create Compelling Headlines
Consider the type of content that you are creating. Is this simply informational content, or is it controversial? The type of content that you are writing determines how you will provide the treatment, or the evocation of the emotion in the writing style.
Adjectives that provoke certain types of reactions in the reader will engage them, and ensure that they pull into your content. By immersing your headline with powerfully emotive adjectives, you will pepper your content with high rankings.
Some power words include:
These types of adjectives set up a mindset in your headline, and following up with the content that is consistent with the headline will create a smooth flow, and ensure that the article gets shared. Inviting reader engagement will also increase social media shares.
Awaken emotions in people with your headlines, and get them feeling something within your first few microseconds. Grab their attention through their emotional filter, and bypass all of their rational type of thinking where they skip over your article. This is what journalists have been trained to do when they write headlines for the mass media.
Tip #5: Avoid Over-used Clickbait That Bores And Confuses
Clickbait cesspools such as Upworth, Lifehack and other sites where the same type of article is generated relentlessly (i.e. ten ways to make a cheese sandwich), feed the masses vanilla bland content and audiences have become jaded.
Traditional quality journalism focuses on these types of headline creation techniques, according to Salma Jafri on Search Engine Watch:
- Short and punchy headlines (five words or less)
- Information rich
- Starts with keywords
- Understandable (even out of context)
- Consistent with readers expectations
These are the hallmarks of traditional journalism training. Compare this with unprofessional novice writing, where the headlines are a mish-mash of over-used clickbait:
- Long, rambling and difficult to comprehend
- Emotion rich
- Few or no keywords
- Predictably without context
- Reliant upon emotional triggers
This type of writing is regarded by anyone who has a decent education as unreliable source material, and questionable in nature. It is generally pop-culture driven, without any type of authority or factual basis, and follows trends that fade.
It is important to evoke emotion, but to do so with a sufficient foundation. Intelligent readership is ranked higher on Google, and will last a lot longer on search engine rankings rather than being bypassed.
Tip #6: Ensure That You Write Headlines For Humans Not Ranking Bots
In order to engage audiences, and have content that is presented to people on search engine pages, you have to write headlines that resonate with people. If you are simply writing articles that will cater to search engine spiders, the content will be disregarded.
Before a lot of refining of Google and other search engine algorithms occurred, keyword stuffing and repetitive content appeared on websites in order to artificially inflate the rank of the page result.
When people read the article, they found it difficult to understand, bland and the resultant feedback to search engine programmers was that they needed to start filtering out poor quality results. Quality content, written that is consistent with the headline that has been placed on the site will keep the reader engaged.
Google measures the amount of time that people spend on a webpage. This means that the right headline, that is forged alongside exceptional and engaging content with significant factual basis and authority will be included in higher page rankings. Write for people, and treat your audience intelligently.
Tip #7: Finding the Balance Between Humanity And SEO
Writing quality headlines that are full of information and deliver what the audience expects must be balanced with the presentation that takes SEO into account. Readership will jar if they same keyword is presented over multiple times and it makes for a bad experience. Conversely, an article written with a series of synonyms to avoid keyword stuffing, yet repeats the same type of information will equally be as frustrating.
Finding the balance between excellent writing, engaging content and designing the presentation of the article for Google Web Spiders is a fine act of decisiveness. The Balance indicates that writing for your readers is critical, but having the technical aspect integrated of optimising the article is equally as important.
An article that is not flowing with the keyword (or keyword set) that is relevant to the title will not deliver on reader expectation, and it will also be disregarded if it fails to adhere to rank criteria. Fusing both sets of technical optimisation and readership is an art form.
There are lots of ads on the internet and mass media for businesses to create their own websites; this may seem like the perfect answer to an expensive endeavour, but that is a total fallacy. In order to have a business succeed on the internet, it needs traffic. The only way to organically create that traffic is by having a professional SEO company give you that service.
We welcome your thoughts on writing headlines. What have you experienced in writing content for your website? Let us know in the comments below, we would love to hear from you.
Charlotte is a digital marketing and communications practitioner working in our Sydney office. She takes on a range of roles relating to SEO and has a keen interest in studying the SEO industry and its future direction, particularly in relation to content marketing. Charlotte takes her writing very seriously and always seeks ensure the content she produces is of a high standard of quality.