Writing Search Engine Optimized Headlines That’ll Make Google Swoon

by Trevor Willingham, Copywriter - 03/30/16

So, you want to make Google fall in love with you? Who wouldn’t? It’s smart, influential, and worth billions of dollars. Most importantly, it can influence whether or not your writing ever sees the light of day. So, where do you start?

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Begin by getting to know Google a little better. Nearly every aspect of your digital content can be tweaked to improve search engine optimization (SEO)—a method that helps Google and other search engines measure your content’s worth. However, in Google’s eyes, some of these factors are more attractive than others.

All about That Headline 

With nearly every style of writing, a well-crafted headline will be crucial to your work's success.

“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy,” said advertising executive and businessman David Ogilvy, who was known as the “Father of Advertising” prior to his death in 1999. “When you have written your headline, you have spent 80 cents out of your dollar.”

The strength of your headline is no different when it comes to search engines such as Google. Your headline is one of the first things Google will see and the search engine will judge you accordingly. Fortunately, there are ways you and your headline can make an excellent first impression.

Say All the Right Things 

Not to be insensitive, but Google already knows the words it wants to hear. It’s just waiting for you to say them. Those words are keywords—the most common terms or phrases people use when searching for information. Learn what keywords are popular for your topic and make sure your headline displays them with pride.

For example, if you find multiple keywords that go together (a keyword phrase), keep them together. You also want to place keywords near the beginning of your headline so readers can spot them easier. This interesting comparison of PlayStation 4 headlines can show you how keyword placement and usage can affect standings on Google searches.

If you’re not sure what words are important, numerous free keyword tools are available at your disposal.

Be All Brains

Google isn’t looking for tall, dark, and handsome. Nor does it have a sense of humor. Google is looking for one thing: intellect.

So don’t spend all your time trying to cram your headline with attractive alliterations or perfect puns. In the digital domain, your headline’s primary goal is to inform readers about what they will learn if they continue reading.

Make Friends with Google's Friends

To impress Google, you’re going to need to impress Google’s friends. Which, in this case, is the entire world. No pressure.

People use search engines for all sorts of purposes. No matter the reason, there will be thousands of content options to choose from. To compete, your headline must do everything that it can to address their needs in a way that’s simpler, more informative, and more interesting.

Note: “Simpler” doesn’t require shorter headlines and “more informative” doesn’t require longer headlines. The trick is finding a balance of something people can digest quickly but that will leave them with a good idea of the article’s context.

Be Mysterious

This doesn’t mean you should start wearing shades indoors and keeping your hands inside your jacket pockets. You just need to make sure your headline sparks curiosity in the reader.

Google ranks content in many different ways, including number of clicks and the average time readers spend on your page. Headlines that make readers want more will cause them to click through, or stay on the page longer to get their answer. More clicks and a lower bounce rate means Google will start to “think” higher of your content.

What We've Learned 

In the quest to capture Google’s affection, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. There are numerous factors to take into account and even more competitors. But don’t let that get you down.

You headline may just be a single piece of the convoluted puzzle, but it’s a big piece. Getting a strong start on your headline will put you in good position to capture Google’s attention. Who knows, you may even become Google’s No. 1 choice … at least for that one search.

Do you need engaging content that will help your website appear higher in Google searches?

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Topics: Search Engine Optimization

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