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.