Page Titles vs Headlines
For potential readers, your headline is the first and perhaps only impression you will make. Without a compelling headline it is likely that most people will not even read the rest of your article.
Search engine’s perspective
Most search engines place more weight on the page title then any other on-page element. By not understanding how to best utilise the page title may be missing out on a great deal of search traffic and hindering your rankings for desired keywords.
Many purists believe you should always write your headlines with the reader in mind, and not worry at all about search engines. While I agree with that idealistically, for the smaller players it is simply not realistic or feasible to be able to discount or not optimize for search traffic.
This post is not about how to write a good headline, but how to write a well optimised page title to make the most of search results. It is important to understand both the human and search aspect of headlines to maximise your conversion rate, for further reading on how to write compelling headlines checkout this post.
Why is the Page Title so Important?
When writing your page title consider the following points to get the most out of your headlines:
- The page title is the first thing visitors will see and the link they will click in SERPS to arrive at your site
- When people link to you, they will often use the title as the anchor text. This is why you want to ensure it is keyword rich, so that you will rank higher in search results for those keywords
- For non-competitive terms, a page title alone can land score you top results. Chris and I conducted an experiment for a phrase ‘free blank resume’ with almost 1000 daily searches. With no content and just a link, Superuser achieved the 1st rank in google au search results.
- Think ‘what sets me apart?‘ Ranking on the first page is an achievement, but remember you are still competing against 9 other results. Your goal is to give search engines and readers an idea of what your page is about. To set yourself apart consider using the following techniques:
- Use clear language
- Have a call to action
- Ask a question
- Endeavour to have keywords in the title but still be relevant, captivating and differentiate yourself from the competition
- Ensure your brand is in the title
What Makes a Bad Title?
The worst thing you can do is have no page title at all, however you should also avoid the following:
- Using salutations or home page
- Welcome is currently indexed 30 million times, Home over 15 million
- Having the same title as your homepage
- Using untitled
- writing exclusively for search engines
Researching Page Titles
Another great strategy is to do some keyword research on the topic you are writing about before you post. There are many great free tools such as the Google keyword tool.
For example I changed the original headline I wrote for this post after doing a quick keyword search on the term ‘page title’. As you can see in the below picture while September was a bad month, there is an average search volume of 2900 for an exact match on ‘title page format’. Not bad considering I was originally going to have ‘Page Titles’ and no mention of the word ‘format’.
There is no such thing as a perfect title but by following the above guidelines you can ensure you don’t negate plenty of organic search traffic while still hooking in your readers with a compelling headline. Above all think ‘attention conservation‘, sure do as much as you can to accommodate the search engines but ensure you balance this with a headline that will intrigue and not confuse your potential visitor.
photo by insightimaging