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Wax Marketing Blog

Grab attention with great headlines

Photo from fOTOGLIF

By Beth Graddon- Hodgson

Any journalist will tell you that a headline; a simple few words, holds as much importance as the body of an article. When writing a blog, the headline or title is of equal importance. However, the approach needs to be different, because you’re not just looking to grab the attention of readers; you need to do that while grabbing the attention of search engines!

Like most aspects of blogging, you’ve got to consider search engine optimization. In writing, this means incorporating keywords. This is essential in the body of an article too, but there is a difference since, with a title, you’ve only got, say, 4-6 words to work with as opposed to a 200 word article.

It’s a lot to consider, right? You’ve got to incorporate essential keywords while making the headline sound snazzy. You can’t always do both 100%, but you can try because they’re each important and here’s why. Keywords will help people find your blog article, but it’s not likely to be the only search engine result. An effective and eye-catching title will encourage readers to click on and read your article, instead of the others that appear.

In the next post, we’ll go into more depth about keyword usage, but essentially, the words used in your headline should be based on common sense and Google AdWords results. When you come up with a title that you think may work, run some of the words through AdWords and check out the Approximate Average Search Volume (Google keyword tool). This will tell you how popular the terms are in user searches.


When creating your title, you’ve also got to consider the audience you’re trying to reach. This week for an environmental blog I took a local issue and with the title, gave it global interest. I could have called this article “Newmarket OSPCA Kills Animals with Ringworm” but instead I chose the title “Canadians Step Up for Animal Advocacy: Protesting Unreasonable Animal Euthanization”. The keywords, while specific, will reach a greater audience since they won’t strictly attract those looking for information on the Newmarket OSPCA. The keywords used are also highly searched. I could have chosen a title like “Killing Animals Sucks!” It might grab the attention of existing readers to a blog; but that’s where it will start and stop because it won’t fare well with search engines.

For those used to writing print headlines –  keep some of the rules in mind. But do remember, you’re working to catch much more than the eye of a reader!

Beth Graddon-Hodgson is a professional writer/blogger and the founder of WriteSourcing a professional blogging, writing and editing service. You can read her posts on blogging for business here at the Wax blog every Tuesday.

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11 Comments

  1. Missy @ The Marketing Mama
    Posted on May 18, 2010 at 5:49 am

    Great post – I’ve started paying a lot more attention to my headlines when I realized how much more search engine traffic I get because of it.

    I usually head over to google insights to try out a few different key words to see what will be more popular. Just this morning I was stuck on writing a headline that would be interesting and snag some good search terms. I ended up with “Skype: The new playdate” after seeing that Skype (the main platform I was writing about) was a much more popular search term than video conference or web cam. Time will tell how wise of a choice that was.

    p.s. would love to see links in your post for “AdWords” and “Approximate Average Search Volume”

  2. Netbook Guru @ Netbook Softwares Says :
    Posted on May 18, 2010 at 9:19 am

    I have been trying a number of campaigns to increase visitors on the website.

    I have noticed that website owners using the Blog tend to gather more visitors. But my questions is that how are content compared to innovative topics?

  3. George Says :
    Posted on May 18, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    If you want some great headlines, go to digg.com. The most “dug” stories are usually those that also have killer headlines.

  4. bonnie Says :
    Posted on May 19, 2010 at 7:21 am

    Missy;

    Thanks for the suggestions on links I’ve added them to the post.

    B.

  5. Beth Graddon-Hodgson
    Posted on May 19, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    Thanks, Missy! You also make a good point – even the best research doesn’t guarantee a headline will hit big..sometimes not all stats make sense with the methods you’ve used. But better to try and see the benefits! You can also change the title if you’ve given it a good run and find it’s not doing what you’d like.

    Netbook Guru – not sure I understand your question 100%, can you clarify? If you click on “Guest posts by Beth Hodgson” on the right, you’ll find a couple of posts about choosing your topic and writing content.

    George – looking at any top hits, even in search engines can provide examples for headlines, but I personally don’t think that you can rely too strongly on looking at other structures. With anything for a blog, you really need to cater to your audience. Everything should be individualized for the best outcome, and that applies to keyword usage too! Something that works with one blog, doesn’t always work with another which is why overtime you can improve your strategy to get more traffic!

  6. Criminal Justice Degree Says :
    Posted on May 19, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    I like the way you make your point with the image at the top. It seems like two of the main titles that catch the eye are related to humor and controversy. It hurts my literary side to have to change titles to suit the needs of SEO.

  7. free sms online
    Posted on May 20, 2010 at 6:31 am

    Thanks this is a wonderful article very helpful indeed!

  8. Alex @ Zahnbleaching
    Posted on May 20, 2010 at 9:15 am

    I often struggle big time balancing SEO benefits with making it a catchy headline.

    Most of the time now I just try to get the “money post” headline very balanced in both aspects and with other normal posts I focus on a fresh headline instead of optimization for search engines.

    Btw what is a good length for a headline? It happens pretty often to me that Google cuts them of in the search results

  9. Brady
    Posted on May 20, 2010 at 11:26 am

    I actually have been submitting articles to news sites as of late, and this particular snippet of advice has been very helpful TY

  10. Beth Graddon-Hodgson
    Posted on May 22, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    Criminal justice degree – as someone who transitioned from print journalism to almost exclusively online content, believe me, I relate!

    Alex, that’s a great question! Google does cut their visibility, but still picks up all of your keywords so for SEO length isn’t so important. I really have a hard time coming up with a good rule for this one. As a general rule and something I have often seen discussed – keep it under 8 words, and if it’s long, they’d better be relevant and carefully selected to justify that length!

    Brady & free SMS – thanks for reading!

  11. Using keywords in your blog posts | Wax Blog
    Posted on May 25, 2010 at 4:29 am

    […] last week’s post about writing headlines we touched a little bit upon keyword usage and the tools that are available […]

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