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Archive for the ‘Titles’ Category

Neorenaissancedoor

A good title invites. Like a house with high curb appeal that pulls house hunters inside, a great title draws people to your post and can turn an also ran blog post into a bestseller — sometimes by changing a single word. Good titles give your posts curb appeal that will arouse a reader’s curiosity and invite them to look inside to discover what comes next.

SEO adds the house number to the curb appeal of the title. A great title that might arouse a reader’s interest is useless if it’s lost on the Internet. The SEO component puts titles into the search engine results pages (SERP). The best titles get the best page rank — at the top —  and like the eye level shelves on a magazine rack, entice a reader to choose.

What if you have the right address and the house is shabby, paint peeling, shutters askew and an unkempt lawn? Not an inviting picture. A house hunter might stop, but it’s unlikely they’ll bother to get out of their car if the house isn’t inviting. A person searching for information on the Internet isn’t likely to click through from the SERP to your post if the title is shabby.

A title is an invitation to the dance, an invitation to come and visit your blog. What if potential readers pass up the dance because the partner lacks sex appeal?

Quality Internet content demands quality titles. SEO alone can’t do it. Titles that appeal to readers aren’t enough by themselves. You need both to succeed on the Internet.

Good titles aren’t clever or cute. That never works. Good titles are searchable and memorable. SEO keywords bring visitors because they match what Internet visitors are looking for, but without the curb appeal of human curiosity, few visitors will stop to read the content behind the title. The anatomy of a good title is a careful balance between the need to be found and once found, irresistible enough to stop a visitor in their tracks and compel them to stay and read your post.

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Think like a reader

When you craft a title, hang that writer’s hat where you can find it when you need it, but think like a reader. Thousands of people are out there on the Internet searching for the information you have to offer them. The job of a good title is to capture their attention and get them reading.

The best way to do that is to take off your writer’s hat and climb into the heads of your intended audience.

Join the conversation

Think about this for a minute. We all carry on conversations with ourselves. We worry about the state of the economy and how we’ll make ends meet. What are we cooking for dinner tonight? Whose turn is it to pick up the kids after soccer practice? Did I lock the front door? Our minds are constantly abuzz with internal conversations, concerning things we care about.

Readers have these same conversations with themselves and if you want their attention, you must join their conversations. Seek resonance with your readers. When your title resonates, it joins ongoing conversations. You’re guaranteed to connect and get their undivided attention because your title addresses their concerns.

Suppose you (the reader) are a frequent flier and you came across this title: “What never…ever to eat on an airplane!” This title is one of the best headlines ever written for a direct mail package.

Now, this title was written before the Internet was born and doesn’t address the SEO issue, but it probably got your attention and stimulated your curiosity; especially if you’ve ever flown on an airplane.

If you were writing a piece on the subject of public speaking, you might come up with a title like this one: “How to overcome your fears of public speaking.” This title joins the conversation of someone searching for help, someone worried about the talk they are scheduled to give in the morning and there’s a good chance they’ll want to know more because you’ve struck a chord.

Reader resonance keeps you in tune

We’re writers, but never lose sight of the fact that we depend on readers. Think reader resonance. Climb into your reader’s mind when you craft your titles. When your title is in tune with how a reader thinks and searches, you have a much greater chance for search hits and a good title that will compel the reader to jump in and read your post. That’s the point after all….isn’t it?

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The Grammar of SEO Titles

Grammar? Wait — come back! I didn’t mean to scare you off like that. This isn’t your stern English teacher talking. Grammar just happens to have a few neat analogies for explaining how to craft an effective title.

A sentence is a complete thought. A title should be complete and able to stand on its own — just like a sentence.

In The Elements of Grammar, Margaret Shertzer describes the parts of a sentence.

“The subject of a sentence is the person, object, or idea being described. The predicate is the explanation of the action, condition, or effect of the subject.”

It’s not too much of a stretch to describe an SEO title using the same terminology. The subject of the title is the keyword phrase, the predicate explains and completes the thought. The keyword phrase as the subject of the title should come first. The title’s predicate assures a complete title that can stand on its own.

  • Subject + Predicate = Sentence
  • Topic (SEO keyword phrase) + Energetic verb = SEO effective and engaging title

A well-chosen title is complete because it identifies the topic clearly. The SEO-friendly subject focuses your title and your verb choice adds energy. This is how you appeal to both audiences, SEO bots and your audience of readers.

Compare this before and after title fix:

  • Poorly formed title: What NOT To Buy At A Dollar Store
  • Well-structured title: Bargain Shopping: Dollar Store Deals To Avoid
  • While the meaning of the first title is clear to a person reading the title, too much is implied and the first six words are not SEO keywords. The only keyword in the entire title is Dollar Store
  • The topic is really about bargain shopping and what not to buy at the dollar store.
  • The second title immediately has Bargain shopping as a keyword to be scooped up by the web spiders. Dollar store (and perhaps deals) will also be scooped up as SEO keywords.

Want more? Here’s a link to a great SEO article! —SEO Tips That Make Sense

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