When you spend a lot of time crafting a blog post in hopes of attracting a high social media click-through rate (CTR), and good SEO results, you might find yourself discouraged if the results are not what you had expected. A simple tweak of your blog headline can make a huge difference in your social CTR and SEO results, so before you give up, read on to learn more about optimizing headlines.
Start With Your General Topic
Let’s use a running blog as an example. In this scenario, you are creating posts, as a running enthusiast, that appeal to fellow runners.
One of the first things you should do is pick the keyword on which you will focus your writing. As a runner, writing about shoes, you decide on ‘running shoes’ — it makes sense, right? Unfortunately, this keyword is probably too generic for your blog, as it will have a tough time competing with larger blogs and e-commerce sites. You need something more specific, or long-tail.
A long-tail keyword is a phrase your visitors are more likely to use when they are getting near a purchase. While ‘running shoes’ may be a jumping-off point, what, exactly, are you trying to sell or advertise? That should be your long-tail keyword. It is the difference between something so general that anybody could talk about it, and something highly accurate, about which you are knowledgeable, and for which your clients are searching.
Using Keyword Research to Create Specific Headlines
How can you find a good, specific, long-tail keyword? Let’s go back to our running blog example. When you decide on ‘running shoes,’ try running it through a keyword research tool like the Moz Keyword Explorer, or Google Keyword Planner.
When you input ‘running shoes’ to a keyword research tool, you will find that it is just too common. While it may have a high potential for click-throughs, it is also used at a large volume around the web. Given that you know your blog is smaller, you can easily see how it would be a challenge to stand out from the crowd using ‘running shoes’ as your target keyword.
You can use a tool like Ubersuggest to drill down into a long-tail keyword. This simple to use and easy to understand tool takes your general keyword and gives suggestions for lesser-used, long-tail phrases that would work better for your purposes. In this case, you’ll see the phrase ‘running shoes for flat feet,’ a perfect long-tail suggestion that will fit into your blog organically.
We pass “running shoes for flat feet” through the Moz Keyword Explorer and find it to be much less difficult yet still full of potential. We’ve found a winning topic, but we’re not done yet.
Reviewing Existing Content for Information Gaps
You’ve selected ‘running shoes for flat feet’ as your long-tail phrase — perfect! Now you need to do a bit of work, reviewing what is already out there on the web to see what has been missed and what unique insight you might be able to bring to the table. Run your long-tail phrase through a Google search, and a Twitter search, to see what existing content pops up.
– The Best Running Shoes for Flat Feet
– Choosing Running Shoes for Flat Feet
– Flat Feet: Running Shoes Buying Guide
– Best Sneakers for Runners with Flat Feet
– Checklist: Choosing Running Shoes for Flat Feet
With further research on each topic, you find that the highest ranked blog post for best running shoes for flat feet is from 2009, and because it focuses on specific shoes (so do most of the other articles), it is apparently dated. This represents a gap in information that you can use to target current searchers — and you can also address the fact that a particular article will be dated, soon. By writing about the best running shoes for flat feet, and sharing general things to look for instead of specific brands and shoe models, your content will last much longer.
As the Chinese proverb states:
With Twitter, you see that many tweets are using the word “find” which indicates it could be an excellent choice for your blog headline as it is, of course, a popular keyword in connecting with ‘running shoes for flat feet.’ Put together; this information shows you how to craft your headline to attract people, and that it can be shared on social media channels, to an audience looking for that kind of information.
Experimenting with Headlines
You have most of the pieces of the puzzle now, but need to put them together. Remember that a good headline attracts both search engine hits and social media click-throughs, ensuring that your content is viewed and shared, and remains on top of other similar content. This is why it is so important to test out potential headlines.
A headline analyzer can help you in finalizing your headline before you start writing. Using a tool like the coschedule headline-analyzer, you can punch in potential headlines and see how they rank. From character count to emotional language, the analyzer finds all the strengths and weaknesses of your headlines. You can try a few options, consider the different types of posts you can utilize, and see the final score:
Headline – Score
· Buyer’s Guide: Best Running Shoes for Flat Feet – 58
· Discovering the Best Running Shoes for Flat Feet – 66
· What are the Best Running Shoes for Flat Feet – 71
· How to Find The Best Running Shoes for Flat Feet – 75
As you can see from the score, ‘How to Find the Best Running Shoes for Flat Feet’ ranks the highest, contains your entire long-tail keyword, describes the context of your article and answers the question people are already posting on social media. This is your optimal headline.
The Effects of an Optimal Headline
Because you have taken the time to research your options, you know that your chosen headline will be effective on social media channels and return SEO results. Instead of guessing as to why any given article is succeeding or failing, you can gain a deeper understanding of how headlines and keywords, used optimally, impact your social media and search engine results page presence. While it may be more challenging than making something up on the fly, an optimal headline is worth the extra time.
This article is by guest author Chris Hornak, who has been developing digital marketing campaigns for over a decade. He is the CEO and Owner of Blog Hands a service that helps businesses and agencies develop content to tell their story. In his spare time, he loves to play video games and spend time with his friends and family. You can find Blog Hands on Twitter or Facebook.