SEO headlines are the titles of content pieces that show up as a result of a user’s search. So, when you type into the Google search bar a term you’re searching for, and Google provides you with pages of options, the clickable titles of those options are the SEO headlines.
Those headlines can make or break you, so you want to make them count.
What does that mean?
The headlines provided in the search engine results pages (SERPs) should be optimized for SEO so your page can get a better ranking and improve the organic (non-paid) traffic to your website.
If you don’t create your own SERP title, Google will likely grab whatever title you have on the actual content piece or the first H1 header within the content piece. This can create problems, so writing your own SERP-friendly headline is best.
This post will tell you how to generate SEO headlines that rank and give you templates to guide you through it.
Are SEO Titles Important?
We know the above question is redundant because writing good SEO headlines is obviously important. We’re writing a post about it, after all.
But here’s why SEO titles matter:
- Your headline contributes to your SEO ranking, which will help you show up at the top of the SERPs. Be honest: how many pages do you click through when Google gives you their best ranking choices for your query?
- When you’re at the top of the SERPs, you’re way more likely to be clicked. This provides two significant benefits: it improves your CTR (click-through rate) and your organic traffic numbers. Oh, and it gives you even more authority with Google. So, three significant benefits.
Learn more about SEO with our handy Ultimate SEO Guide: Propel Your Company’s Online Presence.
How Do I Write Great SEO Headlines?
Let’s jump straight to the big question here: How do I create these awesome SERP-friendly, incredibly clickable SEO titles (also called title tags) that grab the user’s attention and give Google the necessary intel to put you at the top of the SERPs?
Here’s how to write compelling SEO titles:
- Use your keywords in your titles (both the SEO title and the content’s page title) so your users and the search engines know what your page is about.
- Be concise and informative. Creativity is a good quality, but if your SEO headline is too clever or difficult for all your users to understand, you’ll lose clicks.
- Stay within Google’s character count (typically 55-60), so your user gets a full title. If Google has to write its own headline, it’ll generally pull it from your page, and it may be too long and get cut off, leaving your user wondering what the page is about (aka may not click it).
- Ensure your SEO title matches what the user is searching for. If your user writes in, “the difference between physical therapy and chiropractic,” and your page that offers that information has the SEO title, “5 Reasons to See a Chiropractor,” it likely won’t be clicked.
- Use engaging and powerful words that appeal to the user’s emotions (power words). These are generally adjectives and verbs that get your point across effectively and consider your page’s tone. If your page is a blog post about relieving sciatica, words like conquering, overcoming, or beating will draw attention to your page.
So, you’ve got what it takes to write an effective SEO title; you put some time and thought into it and wrote a banger. But Google changed it anyway. Why would it do that?
Here’s why Google may edit your SEO headline:
- It was too long
- It was too full of keywords and looked and sounded like spam
- It sounded too generic
If Google rewrites your headline, review what they changed it to and see if you can determine why based on what you wrote. You can always update your SEO title again if you think a retry will make for a better one than what Google wrote.
Can I Have Pro Tips to Enhance SEO Title Writing?
We thought you’d never ask.
Choose and use your keywords responsibly
Your keyword research is paramount to your success. If you’re not using the words your audience uses in their searches, how will Google give your pages to them in the SERPs?
Know your target audience (buyer persona), know what they want, write content for them based on their expectations. It’s honestly as simple as that. And you do it all by basing your content around the keywords they’re using, which MUST also be used in your SEO title.
Include those power words
The power words we mentioned above are what give your title the extra creative spark it needs. Stay within the character count, but add a word or two that provokes an emotion from the user and inspires them to click.
Use a number in the SEO title
It’s always a numbers game, isn’t it? When it applies to your content, using numbers in your headlines is often well-received (gets clicked). It gives potential visitors a sneak peek into what they’ll be getting.
And it should go without saying that your title MUST portray to your users what they’ll be getting on your page.
Put your SEO headline in question form
Not only will putting your title in question form help with voice SEO (because when people ask Alexa where the best massage therapist is, they ask it like a real question, not how you’d type it into a search bar), but it can also create a bit of drama (in a good way).
I mean, check it out: Where are the Best 5 Massage Therapists Near Me? Or: The Best 5 Massage Therapists Near Me. See?
Test your SEO titles using variations
If your page isn’t getting the organic traffic you want, go ahead and try a variation of the original SEO title. Or, feel free to A/B test your titles. This entails posting the page with two different titles to see which performs better.
Try a headline analyzer tool
If there’s one thing SEO isn’t short on, it’s tools to help make it better (here’s a list of our favorites). That includes headline tools. And there are loads of free ones.
Go ahead and test out some headline tools; it’s not cheating!
How About Those Effective SEO Headline Templates You Promised?
Below are a handful of proven SEO headline templates to make your job that much easier. Use a mixture of them; you don’t want all of your titles to read the same way!
- Number + power word + keyword + result
Example: 10 Proven Back Pain Solutions that Work Fast
- “How to” + keyword + benefit
Example: How to Get Back Pain Relief Naturally
- “Ultimate Guide” + keyword + benefit
Example: Ultimate Guide to Back Exercises for Improved Strength
- “Avoid” + negative result + “with” + keyword + method
Example: Avoid Injuries with Effective Back Pain Care
- Keyword + numbered list
Example: Back Pain Relief: 5 Safe Tips
- “How” + keyword (you can switch “how” for “what” and “why” here also)
Example: How Chiropractic Care Safely Treats Back Pain
So, there you have a few templates to help get you started with some ranking SEO titles. Use these combined with a headline tool and the other tips provided in this post to see real results in the SERPs and get the clicks that lead to the much sought-after organic traffic to your pages.
Feel free to utilize the same headline treatments for blogs, podcasts, guides, YouTube videos, etc., but note that these tips, tools, and templates are not suggested for your regular webpage titles.
Propel Marketing & Design for SEO Strategies that Work
If you’re struggling with your SEO campaign, Propel can help. We know all about content, from headlines to images to linking, our team is prepared to help you soar to the top of Google.