Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can be a wormhole. The further you go down it, the more tools and analytics and best practices there are to sort through.
If exploring the depths of the SEO universe isn’t your thing, don’t worry. You can still do some simple things to boost your Google rankings.
One thing you must do is think seriously about your blog post headlines. Google uses your headline to determine what your post is about, and it gives headlines some hefty SEO weight.
That means your headlines should be clear, concise, keyword-rich and targeted.
If you’re going for SEO traffic, then before you write one word of your blog post, you should know what the headline is going to be. What is the topic? What keyword phrase are you targeting? What have other people written on it? What results does Google serve up for those exact keywords? How can you create an even more valuable, more focused post than what’s in the top spot?
With some headline research, you can save time and energy and, ideally, get Google to love you.
Back that up with quality content and you’re on your way.
Here are 6 headline hacks to help you boost your blog’s SEO.
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1. Longtail Keyword Phrases
Don’t worry about getting found on Google for a single word or two, such as “coworking” or “office rental.” There’s too much competition for those phrases—you’ll get buried in the search results. Instead, focus on longtail keyword phrases, such as “Dog-friendly coworking space in Santa Cruz,” or “Private office rental in Elk Grove.”
This way, you narrow your target to attract exactly the market you’re going for and increase your chance of getting onto the front page of the results, which is exactly where you want to be.
2. Write How People Search
Google’s job is to serve up the best results possible for each search, and Google’s algorithms are very good at doing that.
Rather than static searches, such as “dogs Santa Cruz coworking,” the search engine increasingly aims to return results in the way that people generally search.
For instance, if someone enters “What are the best dog friendly coworking spaces in Santa Cruz,” Google wants to serve them up the answer closest to their query. Knowing this, you can frame your blog post and headline around the keyword phrase: “Best Dog-friendly Coworking Space in Santa Cruz.”
3. Put Your Keywords at the Beginning
Google gives more weight to the words at the beginning of a headline, so make sure your keyword phrase is as close to the beginning as possible. Compare the following for someone trying to get listed for the keywords “install solar panels.”
A Beginners Guide to Install Solar Panels On Your Own
Install Solar Panels in 10 Simple Steps
In the first example, the keywords are late in the headline. In the second, however, they are at the beginning of the headline. If someone searches “How to Install Solar Panels,” your post stands a much stronger chance of being a result.
4. Get to the Point
Don’t be clever, or poetic in your blog headline. Get to the (keyword-rich) point. There are places for vague headlines and cryptic titles, but your blog is not one of them.
If your goal is to be found by Google, be clear what your post is about and get those keywords in there. You can get clever and poetic in the post, if you’d like, but make sure your headline reflects exactly what the post is about.
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5. Learn to Love Lists and Numbers
The web is overflowing with listicles—numbered lists of content—because they work. Lists are easy to scan, easy to read, good for sharing, and easy to reference later.
Look at the top Google results for just about anything, and you’re likely to find listicles in or near the top spot. Embrace lists to drive traffic and boost your SEO.
6. Create How-To Posts
Like lists, how-to posts are reader-friendly and therefore, search engine friendly. Way back in 2014, I wrote a post for Shareable titled “How to Live Off-the-Grid in a Tiny House.” It’s gotten hundreds of thousands of unique visitors and continues to get thousands of hits every month.
That particular post works well for a number of reasons, including hitting the longtail keyword search. Combined with the how-to element, it’s a magnet for traffic. When someone searches “How to live off the grid in a tiny house,” what post do you think is at or near the top of the results?
I remember the moment I realized the importance of headlines. I was a newbie freelance writer and a colleague told me that, unlike the old days of media when the article was written and then a title created, we were now writing headlines first.
My mind was blown. And his insight was absolutely true. With the massive amount of content online, we want to make it as easy as possible for people to find what they’re looking for.
Writing clear headlines is a great way to do this.
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