You know that Search Engine Optimized (SEO) titles improve your Page Rank (PR). You also know that they position your page higher on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).
Did you know that once your page ranks high on the SERP, well-written SEO titles can up the odds of user engagement? Since the days of print media, the best titles have earned the strongest readership. Today, you can take advantage of SEO rules to write more effective titles. Well-written SEO titles can increase your page traffic and user engagement.
Understanding how search engines read titles can help you improve your Page Rank (PR). The same concepts will help you write titles that better engage users. Not surprisingly, some of the best SEO title writing tips come from Google itself. Its Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide lists the best practices for SEO titles.
SEO for Humans
Twentieth Century novelist, John Steinbeck’s book titles might have foiled search engine algorithms. The titles, Of Mice and Men, The Grapes of Wrath, and Tortilla Flat may have ranked very low on Google, Bing, or Yahoo.
No one questions that Steinbeck wrote ingenious titles and content. His titles do not, however, describe the book content as a search engine might read it. Back then, authors wrote titles for human readers.
SEO Helps Average Writers
Today writers compose online copy for humans and their machines: the search engines. The machines scan, classify and filter the results, and users never see most online content. Search engines force copywriters and web editors to follow their rules, to rank on SERPs. Even so, they do not limit editorial creativity.
Steinbeck followed contemporary rules of writing. Likewise, earlier poets, John Donne, William Shakespeare, and John Milton, within the strict rhyme scheme and structure of the sonnet, expressed themselves eloquently. No one doubts their creativity nor expressive ability.
Few of us write with the finesse of these authors. SEO rules force copywriters to ponder before publishing. In that sense, SEO best practices, help average writers communicate better! Have a look at the rules!
SEO for Page Rank
Your website or blog content management system (CMS) has taken care of the most difficult part of SEO. If you write HTML, you must know where and how to assign, using a Meta Tag page title. However, most of use WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, or another CMS that provides an input box for the page title. In WordPress, within the page or post editor, it says, “Enter title here,” like this:
Once the writer places the cursor in the CMS page or post editor’s title box, the fun starts. From there forward, SEO gives the writer simple rules for SEO title fun and creativity!
Simple Rules for Engaging SEO Titles
Start with Google’s simple SEO title-writing best practices. Its “Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide” provides tips to help your page rank. The same tips will boost your odds of engaging SERP viewers.
Keep SEO Titles Short
Short titles have always been effective. Take a look at Packer Shoes’ home page, for example. The website creator has titled it’s its homepage, “PACKER SHOES.”
As a well-known brand, many of Packer Shoes’ visitors simply search for the company’s name. The name, as an SEO page title, has the power to engage the reader.
Editors once kept titles short to reduce pagination costs of newspapers and magazines. Today, search engines cut off long titles (< 70 characters). Make sure viewers see your full title on the SERP by keeping it short.
Short titles help human users focus on key information, saving them valuable time. If you need longer phrases, emphasize them with special font or placement. However, keep them out of page titles.
Create Unique, Accurate Page Titles
The sentence, “create unique, accurate page titles,” comes right out of the Google book. Your SEO title, on the SERP, must perk the interest of the viewer if you want to engage that viewer. If you want a click, write a unique, accurate page title.
Both the human reader and the search engine expect the title to tell them what they will see on your page. Have you ever clicked on a link only to have it take you to an irrelevant page?
Use a concise title to describe page content. Accuracy pleases both search engines and human users. The same guide states, “Accurately describe the page’s content.”
Take a look at a very simple, yet powerful SEO page title from Barbara Oliver Jewelry. “All About Rubies – Birthstone – Barbara Oliver Jewelry.” Having 54 characters, the gift seeker sees the entire title, including the business name, and exactly what he or she wants. Take a look at the snippet:
Unique Title Tags Identify Pages
Even if you have no creativity, whatsoever, at least create a unique title. CMS default titles, like, “Untitled,” or, “NewPost1,” do not help search engines rank your page. Unique title tags help both the search engine and the human user navigate your website. Both need logical, organized navigation cues, and unique page titles.
Online pencil and paper retailer, FiftyThree, blogs about its products: pencils and paper. Imagine writing a few blog posts a week, with names like, “pencil1,” “pencil2,” “pencil3 … !” Would they help customers find the post, “Free Class: Learn Data Visualization with Paper & Skillshare?” Imagine a SERP with titles like “pencil1” through “pencil984.” FiftyThree’s blog manager had the foresight to give the post a unique name.
Unique titles help search engines, and they help customers. Write unique SEO titles for user engagement.
Tips for Humans
Write to Your Target Persona
Titles, like the rest of the content on your web page, should speak to your target persona. A target persona, or ideal visitor, lead, or customer for your site, will read your titles.
SkateXS, a skateboard retailer, understands this. It provides online content for two distinct target personas. Children, mostly, use their skateboards. Parents buy many of them for their kids.
SkateXS maintains a blog with kid-friendly titles, like, “Goofy vs Regular: Beginner tips for Kids learning to Skateboard.” Parents may go right to the Parent’s Guide, full of words like “safety,” “equipment,” and “etiquette.” Research your target persona, and write to him or her to get engagement.
Think like a Journalist
“Who? What? When? Why? Where? and How?” The five “Ws” and an “H” comes right out of traditional journalism textbook copy. The answers to these questions fill traditional newspaper headlines.
The Wall Street Journal’s Business feature, “How Small Firms Can Use Pinterest and Facebook to Sell Directly to Customers,” answers most of the questions. This old journalists’ stand-by, builds strong, active titles. Try working a few of your own SEO titles to see how many you can answer to boost your odds of getting a click.
Literary experts call repeated sounds in a phrase, “alliteration.” Think about, Faucet Face, Good As Gold, Ball and Buck, and Cardinal Case. They all use alliteration to make a catchy brand name.
Alliteration works in longer titles too. “Cooking with Kutoa: Blueberry Almond Crusted Cheese Cake!” has lots of hard “C” sounds. Alliteration appeals to our emotional, instinctual side. Marketers know how emotions engage people and products.
Yes, powerful prose … more alliteration, coincidentally, … also engages internet users. For example, Dodocase’s September 9th, 2016 blog post says, “iPhone Virtual Reality Apps That Rock!” They know this title provokes action more than, “Virtual Reality Apps for your iPhone.”
Make it Worth Their Time
Write titles that point to value. Internet browsers click on titles that promise them something. They want the SERP to show them a page that offers them a return on investment (ROI). The economics of time and resources says that users will click the title that offers them the most. The title, “What Makes a Great Sheet?” on Au Lit Fine Linens’ website, tells SERP viewers that they will learn to choose a quality sheet.
Make sure to take into account Social Media Marketing (SMM) optimization when writing titles. That means keeping the title short. A Tweet, for example, consists of 140 text characters, more than Google’s Snippet title of about 70. Make it fit both.
One of Shopify’s infographics, for example, has a long, but perfectly divided title: “Advantages of B2B E-commerce [Infographic]: 10 Reasons to Make the Move from B2C into B2B and Online Wholesale.” Note that on the Facebook post, it reads as, “Advantages of B2B E-commerce [Infographic].” That not only tells, but it promises something (the infographic).