I wrote a little over 10,000 SEO-friendly headlines the past few years for tweets or articles and read many, many more, so I can usually instantly tell what a headline should look like and what headlines will utterly fail (from a SEO-perspective).
Writing For Search Engines – A Pragmatic Approach
Many freelance writers are proponents of creating content for audiences and not search engines, which I agree upon, but sites that only have a few thousands readers cant rely on that alone. As a business owner you have to be more pragmatic and you need to find a way to get more eyeballs to your content to increase your revenue, else the ROI will be too low and the entire business will never make a profit. That will result in a lower budget, fewer articles and you are helping less people than you actually could. So optimizing articles for search engines and regular readers is a win-win for readers and your business.
As an employer I made this mistake last year, when I failed to consequently address this issue. You have to keep reminding your writers that this is something they have to keep in mind or they will use too much figurative language in headlines or the article itself. It will kill your ROI.
How Can Writers Come Up With More Pragmatic SEO-Friendly Headlines That Also Engage Readers?
Just an example of what I would do. Here’s a headline that I like but that could be improved to engage search engines:
“How To Invest Into Stocks For Eternal Income”
.. that’s a really great headline, but could be improved to get both the attention of readers and search engines.
1. I go to Google and enter the headline like this “how to invest .. income”.
2. Then move the cursor between invest and income, hit space and Google will throw out a couple suggestions like “How to invest in real estate for income or how to invest a million dollars for income”.
3. This should give you a basic idea of what people are looking for.
4. Ok but that’s not what the article is about so I will look for a synonym for “Eternal” e.g. “steady, constant, etc” could be used for this particular headline.
5. People search for “how to invest for steady income”.
My initial headline would then be something like:
How To Invest Into Stocks For A Steady Income (Using XYZ) (where XYZ could be “tricks”, a specific method, etc)
I like the old headline a lot because it’s creative but Google does not know that eternal in this case would mean something like “steady / regular”. Google is capable of understanding synonyms, but eternal is too metaphorical. Full-time writers tend to use a lot of figurative language that Google does not fully understand yet.
Another Method To Come Up With SEO-Friendly Headlines
Then there’s another trick… you create a new Chrome user and download the extension https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/user-agent-switcher-for-c/djflhoibgkdhkhhcedjiklpkjnoahfmg
Then enable it and add a useragent MYBOT or whatever you like. This will create a useragent Google does not know. Don’t pick one of the existing, you need to create your own.
Now go back to Google and try entering “how to invest” again. Instead of only 4 suggestions you will get a lot more and can target phrases that other sites have not covered before which will be easier to rank high for!
Why Should I Use SEO-Friendly Headlines?
Why use a headline people actually search for? Because it works and chances are it will get you more shares because it’s easier to scan than a headline that uses figurative language.
You see figurative language makes us think. Keep it simple, anything too fancy will decrease shares.
Find Adjectives To Underline You Have Something Worth Sharing
Instead try to find adjectives and adverbs that could be beneficial.
For example: “Killer”, “Ultimate”, “Best”, “Free” are usually keywords that will increase the odds of getting likes. Some people apparently don’t even read the article itself, they will share solely based on your headline and “25 Killer-Ways To Create Residual Income Online” works better than “25 Ways To Create Eternal Income”.
You are underlining that you found something that is worth noticing and sharing. People will love you for that if you can back it up with good content. If your content stinks, people will remember, so use it sparingly and only when you have something that is really worth sharing.
There are a few other strategies I use to come up with headlines that actually get traffic, so stay tuned for more updates. I’m not even a very good writer nor a native speaker, but still get thousands of views, imagine what YOU could do with a proper SEO strategy! Exactly.
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