Let’s start by saying that the following article/blog headline optimization tips are not something that I coined or created.  These are tried and tested content formulas that have been used for years.  The difference in today’s Search Engine age is that SEO (Google) has caused us to tweak the tried and true practices of years gone by.  In the past it was all about catching the eye.  Just get the person to look, or read the title, was important.  Well, guess what?  That hasn’t really changed with one exception, now we have to think about “searchability.”  We can’t just write for eye catching, eye popping headlines.   We need to think about Google’s eyes too.  Also, there’s more than just Google.  Seriously, there is.  So, let’s get into what we have to do today to optimize our article and blog headlines.  These are in no particular order.

1. Write Headlines for Scanners*

Write for the reader who scans titles just to see if the blog post is something worth a click.  This means you need to tell the reader what they’re going to get in an enticing way, keeping it as short as possible so as to make it easier to read in just a second or two.  Use words, or phrases, that invoke curiosity, wonder, and interest.  Posing questions works well.   Lists also work, especially if you’re concise, and relevant.

2. Use Keywords

We mentioned above that Google has made us change the way we write.  We now have to think about what a Google Bot is going to see when it scans our content.  We MUST use keywords in our headlines and titles.  It can make things difficult at times but if at all possible we should use a keyword rich title.  Of course the same keywords need to be in the body of your content as well.

3. Write for Humans

Ok, we just said you need to write with Google in mind.  Well, Google isn’t reading your content; it analyzes it for ranking purposes.  Now we’re saying that when you finally get human eyes on your title and content it better read well.  If it doesn’t then you’ll lose your reader very quickly and probably won’t get them back.  So, make sure your blog titles are enticing to the human eye, and that your content is well written and relevant to your audience.

4. Write for Tweetability and Retweetability**

This is something that I’ve been thinking about more and more as we create blog content for our clients.  When we write and publish a blog entry for a client we always work the syndication channels to get it out into (or onto) the web.  That includes tweeting it.

To write for Retweetability you need to keep in mind that a Tweet is 140 characters. Tweeting your blog will automatically add a shortened URL that folks will click on which can be up to 20 characters.  Retweeting adds up to 20 characters with username, the @, and the RT (with a space or two in there).  That means you need to keep your blog title around 100 characters or less.  If you want to leave room for keyword searchable hashtags (#keyword) you’ll want to make your title even shorter.

5. Include Hashtags

This may or may not resonate with everyone, and is something I haven’t even started doing yet.  I’m thinking about adding hashtag keywords directly into my blog titles.  If fact, I did it on this blog.  My reasoning is this; if I’m writing content that I want optimized for two of the largest search engines in the world, Google and Twitter, then I might as well use key optimization tactics for both.  Keywords work well for both Google and Twitter, but the hashtag is very instrumental in searching Twitter.

As you can see in my Retweet example image above I included the #SEO, #Content, and #Optimization hashtagged keywords.  You can also see that they are automatically hyperlinked by Twitter.  If you click these words you will be taken to a Twitter Search results page for that word.  Many users on Twitter, and sites across the web, use hashtag searches to find specific content to Retweet, or publish.  If you want your content to be included in this externally published content then you might think about dictating which search terms you are found for by including your own hashtags.

Blogging is an amazing way to create community, show thought leadership, prove your expertise, and most importantly be found in the Search Engines (Google loves new, fresh, dynamic content found in blogs).   Blogging can do a lot for you and your brand but it’s important to use proven search engine optimization tactics when writing your titles and headlines.

So, grab humans, grab Google, grab Twitter, and hopefully you’ll grab a reader and, better yet, a customer.  Let us know if you have any great tips for optimizing blog titles!

Here are some great sources: