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Tuesday Tip: Optimize your blog post titles for search, but don't be boring

By Chloe Mark | June 2017

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As a content marketer, you spend hours researching what to write about, then understanding the subject and optimizing the post. When you're finally done, all you want to do is slap a quick title on it and hit publish. But hold up: Your title is one of the most important pieces of your SEO game. In other words, an unoptimized title could mean you wasted your time writing your post as it won't be found by the right readers. So what's the best way to ensure your posts are SEO-friendly? Tuesday Tip: Improve your blog SEO with stronger titles. 

There's a lot of content out there on what makes for the best title. Some experts really push for keyword rich titles. While others point out the need for more humor and excitement in the overcrowded content landscape. 

The main conclusion we can draw is to strike a balance. With each post, aim to include a strong keyword phrase, while also getting your title to stand out.

If you can't do both within one title, attempt to have a wide-range of post types so that you're hitting on each across the board. Some of your posts, like with evergreen or cornerstone content can be more focused on keywords. Hero content or other one-off pieces can rely on fun and eye-catching titles.

Now how do you develop your title?  

For starters, let's take a look at a helpful post by Evan Bailyn of First Page Sage, "When SEO = New Revenue: A Lesson on Bullseye Keywords." 

Throughout all of his SEO posts, he's emphasized the importance of SEO-friendly blog titles. In order to create one that fits best practices, he offers up two concepts: Bullseye Keywords and Title Tightness.

Now what do these terms mean when it comes to developing blog post titles?

Part 1: Use focused keyword phrases

a. Bullseye Keywords: 

Definition: The words users would type when they are ready to purchase. 

Example: 

  • Non-Bullseye Keyword = Web design best practices for nonprofits
  • Bullseye Keyword = Minneapolis nonprofit web design agency 

As we try to attract a nonprofit client, it's not a bad idea for a web design agency like us to write about web design best practices. That both shows thought leadership and benefits our audience. However, when building up your content for SEO, we'd want to start with the posts that lead to conversions first. These posts take a search term that someone who is ready to buy may type. Then they answer that question in the content.

b. Title tightness

Definition: The extent to which your keyword phrase is clear and concisely included in your title.

Example: 

With the example above, the most "tight" title would be "Minneapolis Nonprofit Web Design Agency" as it matches the key phrase. 

The aspect to be careful with here is how natural a title is for readers. To balance title tightness with authenticity, aim for a title that sounds like you're speaking directly to readers. Something like, "Why we are the best Minneapolis nonprofit web design agency for you."

*Key takeaway

If there's anything Evan Bailyn wanted you to take away from his post, it's to keep in mind how SEO is all about giving readers what they're looking for. Google wants to find the posts that deliver what they promise in their titles, as that's what leads the readers to the content they want. Choose titles that are clear and concise, then write content based solely on that topic. 


Part 2: Be clever

But it can't all be about keywords. First off, just because titles can get technical, doesn't mean they can't be funny. Secondly, with so many posts out there, especially for high-ranking search terms, you have to step up your game to stand out. As important as search terms are, if you don't get clicks on your titles, your SEO rankings drop. 

In his post "How to Write Catchy Blog Post Titles That Get Clicked Like Crazy" Gaurav Jain discusses the importance of cutting through the noise with your blog title. 

People do judge a book by its cover and a blog by its title. A riveting and eye-catching post title is the gateway to enticing users to click so that they can quickly identify what the content is about and decide whether or not it’s applicable to them. – Gaurav Jain

Examples of Gaurav's include: 

A. Emotional words

Rather than "things, awesome, great" switch it up with words like "brilliant, incredible, painstaking."

b. numbers

Blog titles that start with a number often get clicks. Gaurav highlights what a number can do: "Cats are Wonderful Companions” vs. “19 Awesome Reasons Why Cats Make Brilliant Companions.” The former will fall to the wayside with its lack of specificity, but the latter receives attention.

C. Trigger words

These are words like "what," "why" and "how" as they spark curiosity for a reader. 

*Warning

Make sure you aren't using all of these ideas all the time. If you're constantly relying on numbers and trigger words to keep your post titles engaging, they'll lose their power as they start to blend together. 

D. FOR MORE INSPIRATION, USE tools

If the ideas above get old, try something like twelveskip.com's infographic of 74 fill-in-the-blank titles or the Blog Title Generator by iMPACT. 


Need help with striking this perfect balance? Talk to one of our content marketing experts. For more help, sign up for our weekly tip below!

Topics: Marketing Strategy, SEO, Tuesday Tip, Content Marketing, Digital

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