One of the most important elements on a webpage is the page title. The aim of the page title is twofold: one, is to allow the search engines to know precisely what the page is about which allows for better classification within their indexes, and two, it should entice the visitor to click and read further.
Unfortunately, often these two things are at odds with one another…
There is often a tug of war going on in the struggle between optimizing your SEO title tags and the need to create a killer headline that gets massive numbers of clicks. This is a genuine concern, and often the answer lies in what your main goal is for the page in the first place.
While at first blush the symbiotic relationship between title tags and headlines can seem at odds, but you have to be able to find a happy medium. Understand first that one without the other leads to failure is a good first step.
Let’s consider both needs and see where they intersect.
What goes into a good SEO title tag?
The properly SEO’d title tag is going to be around 64 characters, and have the page’s primary keyword near the beginning whenever possible. That’s not much space to work with, so we’ve got a challenge right from the start.
What’s also important to Google at present is the intent of the search query. What is the searcher actually searching for? Google is getting better and better at reading this, and you need to write with this in mind.
If there is room, you can include additional keywords or LSI phrase, or modify the phrase in hope of ranking for corollary terms, for instance “best blue widget for sale today”. There are around 5 possible keyword phrases in there, in addition to the main term. You get the idea. But your intent should be to make it make sense.
What makes a good page headline?
The purpose of your page headline is to get the reader to read on. Period. Nothing more. It should have elements of curiosity, emotion, and compel the reader to want more information, which of course you will then provide.
You’ll want it to be short, memorable, and contain your pages primary keyword.
Satisfying the needs of the reader is your primary goal here, and if you can do that in a short, pithy way so much the better.
“How to write a novel in 30 days and stay married.” This is a title you might click through to read. It makes a promise, delivers urgency and hints at humor.
Finding the sweet spot
Many times it’s a choice you have to make: is this piece designed to rank well for the ages, or is it something that you may be using socially, or driving paid traffic to. It’s not that you can’t have both, but sometimes the intersect between SEO and enticing titles is quite small. Knowing your purpose for the piece will help you choose which route to take.
Usually the happy medium lies with keeping the reader in mind at all times while including the main keywords for the page. If page titles are written solely for the benefit of the search engines you can run the risk of over optimizing your page which we know can be detrimental for your SEO anyway. When you write for your reader, albeit with some strategic SEO in mind, you will reduce the risk of over optimization and keep the title in line with the page theme. Balance achieved…