Blog titles play an important role in how search engines index blog posts. Bloggers that want to get the most web traffic possible seed post titles with important keywords and make interesting promises about the content.
Many online retailers use blogs to both communicate with consumers and add search-engine friendly content in the hope of attracting more web traffic. The strategy is a good one. According to an October 2008 study from BuzzLogic and JupiterResearch, 27 percent of Internet users read blogs and nearly one in five consumers are influenced by blogs when they are considering a purchase—so there is little doubt that blogs are effective.
But blogging is not any merchant’s regular job, so it is easy to overlook one of the most important aspects of blog marketing: the title of the individual blog post. In this “PeC Traffic Report”, a recurring feature devoted to helping you boost site traffic, we will describe three best practices for writing titles that should attract more visitors to your online store.
Blog Titles are Powerful
To learn just how powerful blog titles are, try running a Google search for the keyword phrase “little snot.” You will likely see a link to a post on the Dot Com Secrets blog from 2006. Dot Com Secrets sells learning products and services, helping individuals and companies become more successful online. The title of the post in question, was “Little Snot?”. But the content had nothing to do with mucus. Rather, the post was promoting some of Dot Com Secrets’ products. All told the post included 484 words and only mentioned “little snot” twice, including the title. Yet, that post out performs 2.23 million other pages for the keyword phrase.
Blog Title Best Practices No. 1: Use Keyword Tools to Improve Titles
SEOmoz, an optimization and marketing consultancy, suggests using keyword tools—like the one in Google AdWords—to improve blog titles. The idea is to take what you believe is a good title and see what related keywords Google will suggest. Then make small and “intelligent” modifications to improve the title’s effectiveness.
Be warned that this best practice is a little like panning for gold. You’ll mostly find mud, but when you do find something shinny and precious, it can be extremely valuable.
Blog Title Best Practices No. 2: Try Using Common or General Terms
Vision Forum is a Texas-based online retailer, selling books, videos, toys, and other items that encourage traditional Christian values. And the company is not afraid to mix business and belief. As a result the site is outspoken about moral issues, and recently, Vision Forum President, Doug Phillips, published a two-paragraph post on his blog, discussing an upcoming debate over same-sex marriage. The post title was “Dr. Al Mohler to Debate Newsweek’s Lisa Miller”.
While this title deserves a lot of praise for being very descriptive, it might not have a lot of meaning. For example, what if you don’t know who Dr. Al Mohler is or who Lisa Miller is? And even if you did know them, would you have any idea why they are debating?
Perhaps a better title would have been “The Biblical Case for Gay Marriage? Newsweek Correspondent Debates Seminary President.” Now the title contains recognizable terms that are part of the common and popular vernacular.
Blog Title Best Practices No. 3: Write the Title First
Brian Clark of Copyblogger recommends writing your blog title first.
“Your headline is a promise to prospective readers. Its job is to clearly communicate the benefit that you will deliver to the reader in exchange for their valuable time,” Clark wrote in a 2006 post.
“The thing about promises is, they tend to be made before being fulfilled. Writing your content first puts you in the position of having to reverse-engineer your promise. Turn it around the other way and you have the benefit of expressly fulfilling the compelling promise you made with the headline, which ultimately helps to keep your content crisp and well-structured,” Clark said.
Blogging is a good way to communicate with customers and potential customers alike. And good blog posts should increase traffic to your store, but to get the best possible results, carefully develop your titles, providing your readers with an intelligent, keyword-rich, promise.