In my last post, Is SEO dead? No More Gaming Google I talked about how Google weights links more heavily in search results than it used to. But well-written and focused post titles in search results are the carrot that’s going to bring the reader to your site.
Readers have the attention spans of a gnat these days, and don’t spend more than a few seconds lingering on any post or article title found in search, deciding whether they want to read the following content. It gets worse on Twitter, where you only have 140 characters to entice someone to click through.
Follow these quick and easy tips to make your post titles descriptive and memorable.
Common sense rules for good post titling
Keep it short
State your post topic in as few explicit words as possible. Using Twitter has made me a better post title writer, for several reasons:
- it’s made me think of myriad ways to shorten my post title just so it fits
- It’s made me aware of the focus of my post. If I couldn’t state the point of my post in 140 characters or less, my post isn’t focused enough.
Users will be scanning the titles to decide whether to read further, but Google is also scanning it to decide where to rank you. Why not please both and include relevant keywords?
Use specific words
Keep your writing focused by using the most specific words possible. For example, don’t say “cesspool” if you could say, above-ground pool. This is also true for post content.
Use active tense
An active tense sentence by its nature is shorter than passive. It gets you to the point faster. It’s also easier to read.
Which is easier to parse:
More Readers For Your Site Are Found By The Writing Of Good Post Titles
Good Post Titles Drive More Readers To Your Site
Put keywords close to the beginning of the post title
Usability testing has shown that people scan the first few words of a post title and decide whether to read further.
Don’t assume context
Let’s say you are writing blog posts in a series. If you entitle it, “Post #14: Good Karma,” someone reading your blog might see the other articles and understand the context, but a stranger encountering this title in the wilds of Google won’t know what the heck it means, and click elsewhere!
Common Sense Makeover
Let’s look at an example to illustrate these principles. Let’s say I’m writing an article about choosing a Twitter Client.
Bad Post Title: Make It Easy!
The word “easy” is always enticing, but this title doesn’t tell me what the post is about!
OK Post Title: Make Tweeting Easy With The Right Twitter Client
Better, it has the keywords “Twitter Client.”
Great: Choose The Right Twitter Client and Tweeting Is Easy
Great! Uses active tense, and keywords are right up front.
Extra Credit: Adding Oomph To Your Post Titles
Just like in life, shiny is more appealing than plain. Descriptive post titles can be effective, (also for Google) but boring for your readers. Last week I was trying to come up with a good post title for my blog post and went through a few permutations.
First draft: SEO is Dead, Content Is Alive
This one is fine, descriptive but a little blah.
Second draft: SEO is Dead, No More Gaming Google
This is the one we ended up going with. It has nice alliteration, and has a tinge of naughtiness with the word “gaming.”
Shiny but might be too provocative: Google Is a Demanding Bitch, What It Wants NOW
This doesn’t have the keywords of “SEO” and “content”, but if I can assume my audience knows what function Google serves, with a title like that, I KNOW it will generate clicks!
Too Much Time On Your Hands Credit: Makeover Per Audience
You can tool a post title to suit different purposes. For example, Adrian has this post title on his blog:
No Twitter for Lawyers? Hear marketing pro Larry Bodine’s Take
This post title functions well enough; it tells the who (Larry Bodine) and the what (Twitter). I think Adrian structured it in this way because Larry Bodine’s podcast is part of the post. However, there are a few ways I could rewrite this blog post for different results:
Twitter Useless For Lawyers, Says Legal Marketing Pro Larry Bodine
This is a bit provocative and makes me wonder WHY it’s useless! Also I added the word “legal,” because it makes him more of an authority for this legal blog.
Larry Bodine: Twitter Useless For Lawyers
This is shorter, and if puts the focus more on Larry Bodine.
Hope this has helped you think about ways to tune up your post titles!
Charlene Jaszewski makes her living helping people make their websites easier to use, editing books so that their ideas are crystal clear, and making marketing materials sound less markety. Wanna see stuff she’s done? Click on over to http://charlenejaszewski.com. Oh and she makes killer marshmallows dipped in chocolate.