Would you like to see more organic, sustainable traffic coming to your blog? Visitors that not only peep in for a one-hit wonder post but stick around, read more posts and hopefully decide to sign up for your free optins? These folk are the juice of every successful blog that’s monetizing, which is music to our solopreneur ears! There an art to hooking them in and it’s called writing a killer SEO blog post title that entertains, educates or informs – or all three.
If your blog is seeing only minimal traffic, there’s a fix. And even if not an overnight fix, it’s a vital step in the right direction. It’s called SEO, and it can leave even the most creative entrepreneurs and bloggers among us lacking in, well, creativity. Yet, I argue, SEO is actually very creative process – and fun – that can get the growth in visitors our blogs deserve.
Why is the Blog Post tile so important?
I like to start top down with a post title that is crafted with SEO in mind – not every post of course, but around 75% or so. Because if you create SEO-friendly blog post titles, the rest of your post content and its SEO will flow effortlessly.
A no-brainer, of course. But you’d be surprised just how few of us started out blogging knowing this, let alone implementing it. Many of us simply write for ourselves, completely forgetting our audiences and what they are likely to be searching for. And we have little idea of what words or search terms they type into Google to find the answers they need.
You need to ensure your blog post title is as SEO perfect and as captivating as possible before you hit publish. Change your mind after posting and you will totally screw up your permalinks and your SEO. Move, delete or rename the permalinks of a post and your visitors might see 404 Page Not Found error messages. This can hurt your search rankings. You will need to create 301 Redirects on any posts you change the permalinks of to ensure they redirect to the new one. This can scare the daylights out of the non-techie blogger!
While plugins can get you out of that hole and do the 301 redirects for you, it’s simply best practice to think of SEO when you craft that post title first for several more reasons.
Here, I set out how to create those killer, SEO blog post titles and we delve into Google Keyword Planner which sounds, I know, a tad boring. But, they are invaluable tools in helping you define and hone a post that brings firm results in reaching your ideal, target audience.
Follow these steps and SEO will be as easy as saying 301!
Part 1: Research
Does your audience want your content at all?
The age-old blogging question of build it and they will come, or find your audience and give them what they want. Of course, it would be a very dull world if we only served up what we know people are searching for.
I am not suggesting we pack away our creativity forever, and write formulaic posts aimed only at writing for SEO. Of course, we need to have a personal voice and outlook. But, if we’re to get some traction on our blog, we also need to have a handle of what kind of pain points our target audience is looking for solutions to.
To do this, we need to do our homework. Luckily, we’ve free tools to hand to research our audience and find out what kind of queries they are typing into that search bar. Here are my top ways to work out if my post is going to help anyone.
1. Ask your Audience
If you have active social media, you can ask there. Start by popping a visual on Instagram with some text overlay on your potential post topic. Spark the discussion by asking a question in your comment. On your Facebook page / group prompt your current audience to respond. For example, if you were writing about self care, you could ask what are the top 3 issues that stop people from making time for themselves even when they have some downtime. Or, if you’re blogging about veganism, perhaps ask what are the key problems split vegan cum non-vegan families have in creating meals to satisfy the needs of all family members.
But what if you don’t already have an active fan club on social media? I hear you! Don’t panic, because there are plenty of ways you can hang out passively and find out what your target audience needs resolving.
First up, join and hang out in Facebook groups relevant to your niche. For starters, try my suggestions for Awesome Facebook Groups for Bloggers and Solopreneurs. A 20-min breeze down the various threads and using the internal Facebook group search tool can be a mine of great blog post ideas for weeks to come. The beauty of these groups is that people are wonderfully open and chatty and use their everyday lingo to spell out what they’re having trouble with. Plus, you’ll have some tips for how your content is going to help with those answers.
The final word on groups: many groups I belong to have set promote yourself days which you could use later on to promo your blog post. I find I gain huge numbers of new subscribers that way. Check the group’s rules of course before you promote yourself or your services/products.
2. Use Google Keyword Planner
[UPDATE: 18-08-16: Google has changed the planner so I will update this with another post giving alternatives ]
Google Keyword Planner which lies within Google Adwords campaign manager is a free tool. It’s designed to help online advertisers define, budget and buy into relevant ad keywords for their business. Now, we’re going to use the tool not with the end goal of buying ads but to see what kind of search terms our audience is typing in. It’s incredibly easy to use and is what a hell of a lot of online marketing agencies use (for free) yet charge clients, blinding them with SEO and the science of Google tools!
I’ll take you step by step through how to use it to research terms for your posts. Let’s start with an example of a blog post on vegetarian recipes for family meals.
i) Sign into Keyword Planner here with your google account.
ii) From the top menu, choose Tools>Keyword Planner, ignoring all else on the homepage.
iii) Then choose: ‘Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category.
iv) Fill in around 10 keywords or phrases you think relate to your post most, and which you think your target audience would be typing in – in my example, they’d be looking for answers to their problem with creating vegetarian family meals or looking for vegetarian family recipe ideas. Separate each item with a comma and place them in the field titled ‘your product or service’. You can leave the other fields as they are unless you wish to reduce your search to a specific country or group of countries. I always leave it to show results for past 12 months. I’ll explain why later. Then hit the ‘Get ideas’ button under the fields.
v) Take a look first at the bar graph (see my example below). You’ll see that there are around 10 million searches using my chosen terms! This won’t be the case with less popular terms but what’s important to note from the bar graph is a level or rising trend in your terms, not a decline over those 12 months. That would mean people aren’t looking for those keywords or phrases as much. So, perhaps go back and revise your terms.
The sheer volume of searches for my terms also means that I need to look next at ones that aren’t overused otherwise I am simply not going to get my blog post found at all in the noise out there. So, on to the next step to narrow things down.
vi) Now scroll down from the bar graph and you’ll find the average monthly searches for specific search words and phrases. Things are getting a bit clearer about what people are actually typing in to find those vegetarian meal ideas.
Take a look at the first term ‘vegan recipes’ which has 368,000 searches. Although it has a low competitive value for advertisers, that’s still a lot of searches for my single blog post to compete with. Far better then to find a term or phrase that has fewer searches and low or preferably medium competition in bidding for the ad words. The competition column gives you a feel for how important terms are so it’s to see what’s hot or not.
Looking at my list of search results, I’d aim to weave in the terms ‘vegetarian menu plan’ and ‘vegetarian family meals’ which have enough people searching for them. Those with a mere 100 – 200 are too low to bother with. If I scroll down further, I find terms that have no monthly searches, so are best left well alone (see below):
Vii) To wrap up this Google Keyword Planner section I’ll say one important point: remember you’re looking for long-tail, not quick-hit traffic so choose keyword terms and phrases that can get you targeted traffic and therefore the right audience. The work and research you’re doing now isn’t necessarily going to show traffic results the day after you hit publish on your new post. It’s designed to attract your tribe for months, years even, to come.
3.Other Ways to do a Keyword Search on Google
There are two very easy and quick ways to give your blog post idea and title a head’s up. Just type a few of your chosen keyword phrases or blog post titles into the Google search bar. There’s a chance you’re missing the suggestions that immediately pop up even before you’ve hit return. Glance down those to double check your search idea.
Then, hit return on a search term and apart from seeing what the results are, do scroll to the end of the page to see this:
Handily, Google shows you related terms. Whooppee, another way to confirm if you’re on the right track!
4. Pinterest as a Search Tool
Pinterest is more than a pretty face for our business or to gather Pins on a mood board. It’s a powerful visual search engine. In fact, I’d hesitate to call it a social medium; after all, how often do we comment on posts on Pinterest? Rarely. It’s beauty lies also in helping us work out what our potential audience is searching for when we have a hunch for a blog post topic and title.
If you’re pushed for time and don’t fancy using Google Keyword Planner, at least whack variations of your blog post topic keywords into the Pinterest search bar. Just like Google, it will come up with suggestion based on top searches. Those might trigger better ways to word your potential title.
Then, hit return and see what kind of Pins come up. A quick browse down will show you the kind of titles your fellow bloggers (I hesitate to say ‘competitors) are using. Look at the number of repins they get as a measure of how successful their titles are. In my example, I like the ‘Kid-friendly vegetarian dinner ideals’. I could put ‘kid-friendly vegetarian menus’ or ‘family-friendly vegetarian meals’ or similar. Don’t copy a title you find, but do bear in mind the way these other bloggers – pinners are presenting the topic.
See also what hashtags they are using on those pins or click through to their boards and check them out there. Pinterest is truly the ‘in’ search tool at the moment and anyone, in a clearly visual blog niche or not, needs to have a presence. But that’s another post! For now, use it as a tool for your own SEO.
By now, you’ll have a clear idea of your title, and the SEO keywords that will follow through to your content itself. Don’t skimp on the research part of your blog post as this is the most important way to ensure you craft a title, and ensuing content, that is in line with what your target audience is seeking out.
Let’s move on to actually drafting the title in full.
Part 2: Crafting Attention and SEO-grabbing Titles
Now we get to the word smithing. This is where we craft what are called long-tail titles. We need to include the phrases and/or keywords that our research has come up with. The title can include more than the plain vanilla phrase and open out into a full semantic search sentence or phrase. The rule to bear in mind is niche it down. Don’t speak to everyone. Do speak to someone.
A tried and tested way to stand out in a crowd is to ensure your title includes one or more of the following points:
i) The Audience – say who the post is for. ie. stay-at-home mums / GAP year teens / millennials seeking to become solopreneurs / Mid-lifer bloggers.
ii) The Result or Outcome – what will your post teach or tell me and what do I resolve by reading your post.
iii) The Urgency / time factor – placing a timeframe on the outcome creates a sense of must-read urgency to your post. We are all time poor!
These three factors are brilliant to work into a blog post titles. If you teach something, all the better. We are all googling how to do or resolve things. And teaching something, like I do in this post, also lends itself to longer, more SEO-content-friendly posts for Google too.
Here are some examples using one or more:
- Learn WordPress in a week for Beginner Bloggers
- Step-by-Step Guide to Prenatal Exercises for First-time Mums
- 101 life Hacks for Stressed Millenials
- Guide to Setting up an Etsy Shop in a 7 Days
- 5 Profitable Income Streams for Stay-at-home Mums
Another ace element to weave in to your blog post title is that of surprise:
- What every man should know before proposing
- The dark side of xxx …
- The good, the bad and the ugly of xxx…
- Why Pinterest isn’t going to gain you subscribers and what will
- The Naked Truth on x
- 10 things I wish I’d known before starting a blog
Writing a full phrase is also very good SEO practice and several of these also have the pull of teaching me how to do something in double-quick time, or even if I have no experience. The ‘you can do it’ too if you read my blog post is a very powerful way to attract visitors. These kind of titles also work well on social media posts, like Pinterest visuals.
- Learn to build a website with no coding experience
- Create and sell ecourses without an email list
- Build an online shop in a day
Part 3: What to do with Permalinks and Meta Descriptions
OK, deep breath! We’re at the last stage in creating those killer SEO blog post titles. As you can see, the title, now honed, is going to give you a clear direction and definitive keywords and phrases to work into your content.
Now, I am looking at the meta description part of your blog post. And for that you will need to install the Yoast SEO plugin, if you haven’t already. I used to rely solely on Yoast, with its traffic light symbols showing me whether I’d drafted the ideal SEO-friendly post. Now, I use the method above as well, as I tended to just pluck any old keyword to slap into Yoast. Yoast is however excellent in helping you place a perfect meta description and permalink for your post. It’s updated version also tells you how easy your content is to read – a feature I am not overkeen on but do take note of.
Below, is an example of one of my top posts on Creatista. You can see the meta description includes my chosen keyword phrase ‘cost to start a blog‘. Just use the ‘edit snippet’ to write the meta description. Yoast conveniently tells you when you’re over the ideal character count. Write too much and Google will cut it off in the search results.
The permalink also includes my chosen keyword phrase. I could have missed off the ‘a’ but I left it as a natural phrase. Yoast will prompt you to edit out words like ‘the’, ‘a’, ‘to’ etc. It’s up to you. I tend to leave them in these days. You can of course have the permalink different from the post title, but if you can keep them including your chosen keywords or phrase, all the better for SEO. But of course, there are times when you’ll need a longer title such as ‘How to write killer SEO Blog Posts + free cheatsheet’. That added extra just gives the post more pull but isn’t needed in your permalink.
Summary on how to SEO Blog Post Titles
To summarise then:
1. Research – using regular Google Search, Keyword Planner and Pinterest to discover the likely long-tail keywords and phrases your topic should include.
2. Work your research keywords or phrases into a blog post title that (i) niches down to your target audience – the ‘who’; (ii) says what the definitive outcome or result is and/or how it helps resolve your audience’s pain point; (iii) has a sense of urgency or gives a timeframe to helping them achieve their goals.
3. Write meta descriptions and permalinks that include your keyword phrase.
Do this for every single post on your blog and you’ll be crafting a fantastic library of resource posts that will continue to drive you traffic. Remember, we’re aiming for long-tail traffic that gives you results long term not one-hit wonder posts that just create a spike in traffic once. Be patient and give this system time to work and show in your Google Analytics. This kind of attention to detail and targeting of your audience is the very foundation of great, long-term, successful blogging.
Part Two: On-page SEO is coming up in a couple of weeks. I’ll also do a Part Three: On-site SEO tutorial too.
In the meantime, do let me know how you get on with following this tutorial on how to SEO blog post titles.