Tag Archive | "Headline"

Clickbait or Damn Good Headline?

When I review applications from students in our Certified Content Marketer training program, I get to read some great content….

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How to Keep Your Reader Engaged, from Headline to CTA

Content creation can feel a lot like spinning plates. Once you have one element rolling along, there’s another you need…

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Clickbait or Damn Good Headline?

When I review applications from students in our Certified Content Marketer training program, I get to read some great content. And giving feedback on headlines to make them more powerful is one of my favorite parts of the process. My reason for that is simple. No one will ever know how good your content is
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How to Optimize Content for Both Search and Social (Plus, a Headline Hack that Strikes the Balance)

"The best content doesn’t win. The best promoted content wins." – Andy Crestodina

It’s as if they live in different countries: Searchlandia and Socialstan.

Search optimizers and social media marketers don’t get together a whole lot, at least not in the same piece of content. But there’s no reason they can’t peacefully coexist in one article, in one URL.

Imagine. One topic, one message, united in quality, but with two separate and equally powerful sources of traffic: search and social.

Is it possible? Can one post be optimized for both?

Yes. And when it happens, the traffic is greater than the sum of its channels.

Um. Actually, the traffic is equal to the sum of its channels. But we’re not here to do math. We’re here to create the right type of content that gets traction everywhere.

Optimizing for search

Let’s start with a rundown of search optimization.

Our goal here is to indicate relevance, not trick a robot.

After you’ve identified a target keyword phrase:

Use the phrase in highly visible places

Those places are the title, header, meta description, and body text (of course). Yes, the tiny, barely visible places are nice too — such as alt text and the file names of images — but they’re not as important as those primary spots.

If this isn’t obvious, just ask yourself:

If you were building a new search engine today, would an image file name be a major search-ranking factor?

Probably not.

Include words and phrases semantically connected to your phrase

You see words and phrases semantically connected to your phrase everywhere when you use search engines.

They’re suggested in the search box as you type. They’re in the “related phrases” at the bottom of the search results page. They’re in the other high-ranking pages.

Now work these words into your copy. This is the key to semantic SEO:

Target the topic, not just the phrase.

Go wide and cover related topics and phrases, so Google has more reasons to believe that your content is relevant.

Answer all the questions related to your topic

Find the questions that are related to your topic and answer them with your content.

You’ll find these questions in Quora, AskThePublic.com, LinkedIn Groups, and even your sent email folder.

Greater depth means a greater likelihood of ranking.

Optimizing for social

You’ve indicated your relevance, gone wide across semantically connected phrases, and gone deep into the answers that your reader is hoping to find.

Now that your content is rankworthy, let’s make sure it’s shareworthy.

We’ll focus on headlines first, since they’re such an important factor in social optimization. They’re critical.

Think of it this way:

Articles don’t get shared, only headlines do.

Our goal here is to trigger a social interaction. The advice below is more about psychology, so it’s a bit less prescriptive and a bit more fun.

Choose unexpected words

You always want to avoid creating boring content. That advice is especially true for social media.

After all, your potential reader is on social media looking to cure their boredom, right? We need to trigger their interest with some unexpected words.

  • Short, simple words will pop off the page.
  • Delightful words will squeak past the other headlines.
  • Direct words will skewer them before they scroll past.
  • Negative words kill it in social media
  • But be careful with long words — the circuitous path through the frontal cortex is too slow

Readers scan quickly, so we need some stopping power. That one, extra word can disarm, charm, and twist their arm.

Pique curiosity

Take a look at the headline below. It was one of the top three most shared headlines on Copyblogger over the last year:

One Skill that Will Take Your Writing from Good to Great

Does it make you wonder what that skill is? Me too. It’s hard not to click on it. And what gets clicked often gets shared.

Headlines that trigger curiosity and fascination are great for social media.

Fascination is one of the two most important qualities of compelling content. What’s the other? You’ll have to click here to find out.

See what I did there?

Add numbers

Here’s another one of the top 10 most shared headlines on Copyblogger in the last year:

21 Juicy Prompts that Inspire Fascinating Content

Numbers in headlines have always correlated with clicks and shares. There are at least two reasons why:

  1. Numbers are a clue that the content is scannable (low investment).
  2. Numerals stand out among letters in a line of text (high prominence). This gives them a big advantage in fast-flowing social streams.

Don’t break your promise

Your headline is a promise. Clickbait is a broken promise, a lie.

Everyone who sees your headline in their social stream does a split-second cost/benefit analysis. They think, “Is this worth the click? Is this worth two seconds of my attention?” The headline’s job is to tell them, “Yes, it’s worth it.”

Be specific. Let the reader know what they’ll get, what they’ll learn, and why it’s important. Give them a reason to stop scrolling. Look closer. Click.

Once they’ve clicked, you’d better keep your promise. Your job now is to meet or exceed their expectations. All the depth you added while optimizing for search will help.

Customize your images

If your content has no featured image, or a weak one, it has less stopping power in social streams.

Two main elements make images more likely to be clicked:

  1. Faces. We are hardwired to look at faces. It’s no wonder you’ll see them on virtually every cover of every magazine in the checkout aisle.
  2. Text. Since your image appears in a social snippet, it’s a chance to make that promise we talked about. It’s a chance to indicate the benefits of clicking. So put a benefit of reading the post (possibly the headline itself) on your image.

YouTubers learned these tactics years ago. Look at any popular YouTube channel and you’re likely to find both faces and text within the images in their custom thumbnails.

Collaborate (a social approach to writing)

If you want someone to share your piece of content, invite them to contribute to it.

An ally in creation is an ally in promotion.

Adding contributor quotes from experts both improve the quality of the piece and increase its social reach. If contributors are invested in an article, of course they’ll share it.

It’s also more fun to make things with collaborators. Content optimized for search includes keywords. Content optimized for social includes people.

The battleground for search and social tension: headlines

Images, answers, contributors, depth … most of the aspects of search and social optimization can easily coexist side-by-side, but there isn’t much interaction between them.

The exception is the headline.

So, how can a headline both indicate relevance for search and trigger emotion for social? Can you satisfy citizens of both countries? Yup.

Here are examples of headlines optimized for both channels:

  • Collaborative Content Marketing: 5 Ways to Make Friends and Rank Like a Champ
  • How to Launch a New Product … and Make Your Mom Proud
  • 10 Competitive Analysis Tools (and Tips for Spying on your Competitors)

Notice that in each example the target keyword phrase is near the beginning. They often use numbers and trigger words. Colons and parentheses allow you to add more benefits and details.

Here’s a template for search-friendly and social-friendly headlines:

keyword + colon + number + specific benefit and/or trigger words

For example:

Website Navigation: 7 Best Practices, Tips, and Warnings

Does it work? Search for “website navigation” and take a look.

A powerful way to attract more readers

Wherever you’re from — the land of search or the land of social — you’ll attract more readers if you optimize for both.

And you’ll push yourself to write better in the process.

The best content doesn’t win. The best promoted content wins.

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Deadly Conversion Busters: How to Fix a Horrible Headline

mn-fixing-bad-headlines

Headlines can make or break your conversions.

How do you craft a headline that works every time?

In this episode of The Mainframe, Chris Garrett and Tony Clark reveal:

  • Why being clever might be the easiest way to tank your offer
  • How your audience targeting is the key to developing your headline strategy
  • Testing and getting out of your own way
  • What your headlines really need in order to connect with your prospect
  • The 4U technique for getting your headlines right

Click Here to Listen to

The Mainframe on iTunes

Click Here to Listen on Rainmaker.FM

About the author

Rainmaker.FM

Rainmaker.FM is the premier digital marketing and sales podcast network. Get on-demand business advice from experts, whenever and wherever you want it.

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Headline Writing and Title Tag SEO in a Clickbait World – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

When writing headlines and title tags, we’re often conflicted in what we’re trying to say and (more to the point) how we’re trying to say it. Do we want it to help the page rank in SERPs? Do we want people to be intrigued enough to click through? Or are we trying to best satisfy the searcher’s intent? We’d like all three, but a headline that achieves them all is incredibly difficult to write.

In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand illustrates just how small the intersection of those goals is, and offers a process you can use to find the best way forward.

For reference, here’s a still of this week’s whiteboard!

title tag whiteboard

Video transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re going to chat about writing titles and headlines, both for SEO and in this new click-bait, Facebook social world. This is kind of a challenge, because I think many folks are seeing and observing that a lot of the ranking signals that can help a page perform well are often preceded or well correlated with social activity, which would kind of bias us towards saying, “Hey, how can I do these click-baity, link-baity sorts of social viral pieces,” versus we’re also a challenge with, “Gosh, those things aren’t as traditionally well performing in search results from a perhaps click-through rate and certainly from a search conversion perspective. So how do we balance out these two and make them work together for us based on our marketing goals?” So I want to try and help with that.

Let’s look at a search query for Viking battles, in Google. These are the top two results. One is from Wikipedia. It’s a category page — Battles Involving the Vikings. That’s pretty darn straightforward. But then our second result — actually this might be a third result, I think there’s a indented second Wikipedia result — is the seven most bad ass last stands in the history of battles. It turns out that there happen to be a number of Viking related battles in there, and you can see that in the meta description that Google pulls. This one’s from Crack.com.

These are pretty representative of the two different kinds of results or of content pieces that I’m talking about. One is very, very viral, very social focused, clearly designed to sort of do well in the Facebook world. One is much more classic search focused, clearly designed to help answer the user query — here’s a list of Viking battles and their prominence and importance in history, and structure, and all those kinds of things.

Okay. Here’s another query — Viking jewelry. Going to stick with my Viking theme, because why not? We can see a website from Viking jewelry. This one’s on JellDragon.com. It’s an eCommerce site. They’re selling sterling silver and bronze Viking jewelry. They’ve actually done very classic SEO focus. Not only do they have Viking jewelry mentioned twice, in the second instance of Viking jewelry, I think they’ve intentionally — I hope it was intentionally — misspelled the word “jewelry” to hopefully catch misspellings. That’s some old-school SEO. I would actually not recommend this for any purpose.

But I thought it was interesting to highlight versus in this search result it takes until page three until I could really find a viral, social, targeted, more link-baity, click-baity type of article, this one from io9 — 1,000 Year-old Viking Jewelry Found On Danish Farm. You know what the interesting part is? In this case, both of these are on powerful domains. They both have quite a few links to them from many external sources. They’re pretty well SEO’d pages.

In this case, the first two pages of results are all kind of small jewelry website stores and a few results from like Etsy and Amazon, more powerful authoritative domains. But it really takes a long time before you get these, what I’d consider, very powerful, very strong attempts at ranking for Viking jewelry from more of your click-bait, social, headline, viral sites. io9 certainly, I would kind of expect them to perform higher, except that this doesn’t serve the searcher intent.

I think Google knows that when people look for Viking jewelry, they’re not looking for the history of Viking jewelry or where recent archeological finds of Viking jewelry happened. They’re looking specifically for eCommerce sites. They’re trying to transact and buy, or at least view and see what Viking jewelry looks like. So they’re looking for photo heavy, visual heavy, potentially places where they might buy stuff. Maybe it’s some people looking for artifacts as well, to view the images of those, but less of the click-bait focus kind of stuff.

This one I think it’s very likely that this does indeed perform well for this search query, and lots of people do click on that as a positive result for what they’re looking for from Viking battles, because they’d like to see, “Okay, what were the coolest, most amazing Viking battles that happened in history?”

You can kind of see what’s happened here with two things. One is with Hummingbird and Google’s focus on topic modeling, and the other with searcher intent and how Google has gotten so incredibly good at pattern matching to serve user intent. This is really important from an SEO perspective to understand as well, and I like how these two examples highlight it. One is saying, “Hey, just because you have the most links, the strongest domain, the best keyword targeting, doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll rank if you’re not serving searcher intent.”

Now, when we think about doing this for ourselves, that click-bait versus searched optimized experience for our content, what is it about? It’s really about choosing. It’s about choosing searcher intent, our website and marketing goals, or click-bait types of goals. I’ve visualized the intersection here with a Venn diagram. So these in pink here, the click-bait pieces that are going to resonate in social media — Facebook, Twitter, etc. Blue is the intent of searchers, and purple is your marketing goals, what you want to achieve when visitors get to your site, the reason you’re trying to attract this traffic in the first place.

This intersection, as you will notice, is super, uber tiny. It is miniscule. It is molecule sized, and it’s a very, very hard intersection to hit. In fact, for the vast majority of content pieces, I’m going to say that it’s going to be close to, not always, but close to impossible to get that perfect mix of click-bait, intent of searchers, and your marketing goals. The times when it works best is really when you’re trying to educate your audience or provide them with informational value, and that’s also something that’s going to resonate in the social web and something searchers are going to be looking for. It works pretty well in B2B types of things, particularly in spaces where there’s lots of influencers and amplifiers who also care about educating their followers. It doesn’t work so well when you’re trying to target Viking battles or Viking jewelry. What can I say, the historians of the Viking world simply aren’t that huge on Twitter yet. I hope they will be one day.

This is kind of the process that I would use to think about the structure of these and how to choose between them. First off, I think you need to ask, “Should I create a single piece of content to target all of these, or should I instead be thinking about individual pieces that hit one or two at a time?”

So it could be the case that maybe you’ve got an intersection of intent for searchers and your marketing goals. This happens quite a bit, and oftentimes for these folks, for the Jell Dragon Viking Jewelry, the intent of searchers and what they’re trying to accomplish on their site, perfectly in harmony, but definitely not with click-bait pieces that are going to resonate on the web. More challenging for io9 with this kind of a thing, because searchers just aren’t looking for that around Viking jewelry. They might instead be thinking about, “Hey, we’re trying to target the specific news item. We want anyone who looks for Viking jewelry in Danish farm, or Viking jewelry found, or those kind of things to be finding our site.”

Then, I would ask, “How can I best serve my own marketing goals, the marketing goals of my website through the pages that are targeted at search or social?” Sometimes that’s going to be very direct, like it is over here with JellDagon.com trying to convert folks and folks looking for Viking jewelry to buy.

Sometimes it’s going to be indirect,. A Moz Whiteboard Friday, for example, is a very indirect example. We’re trying to serve the intent of searchers and in the long term eventually, maybe sometime in the future some folks who watch this video might be interested in Moz’ tools or going to MozCon or signing up for an email list, or whatever it is. But our marketing goals are secondary and they’re further in the future. You could also think about that happening at the very end of a funnel, coming in if someone searches for say Moz versus Searchmetrics and maybe Searchmetrics has a great page comparing what’s better about their service versus Moz’ service and those types of things, and getting right in at the end of the funnel. So that should be a consideration as well. Same thing with social.

Then lastly, where are you going to focus that keyword targeting and the content foci efforts? What kind of content are you going to build? How are you going to keyword target them best to achieve this, and how much you interlink between those pages?

I’ll give you a quick example over here, but this can be expanded upon. So for my conversion page, I may try and target the same keywords or a slightly more commercial variation on the search terms I’m targeting with my more informational style content versus entertainment social style content. Then, conversion page might be separate, depending on how I’m structuring things and what the intent of searchers is. My click-bait piece may be not very keyword focused at all. I might write that headline and say, “I don’t care about the keywords at all. I don’t need to rank here. I’m trying to go viral on social media. I’m trying to achieve my click-bait goals. My goal is to drive traffic, get some links, get some topical authority around this subject matter, and later hopefully rank with this page or maybe even this page in search engines.” That’s a viable goal as well.

When you do that, what you want to do then is have a link structure that optimizes around this. So your click-bait piece, a lot of times with click-bait pieces they’re going to perform worse if you go over and try and link directly to your conversion page, because it looks like you’re trying to sell people something. That’s not what plays on Facebook, on Twitter, on social media in general. What plays is, “Hey, this is just entertainment, and I can just visit this piece and it’s fun and funny and interesting.”

What plays well in search, however, is something that let’s someone accomplish their tasks. So it’s fine to have information and then a call to action, and that call to action can point to the conversion page. The click-bait pieces content can do a great job of helping to send link equity, ranking signals, and maybe some visitor traffic who’s interested in truly learning more over to the informational page that you want ranking for search. This is kind of a beautiful way to think about the interaction between the three of these when you have these different levels of foci, when you have these different searcher versus click-bait intents, and how to bring them all together.

All right everyone, hope to see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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Here’s Your Invitation to the Copyblogger Holiday Headline Clinic

image of gift boxIt’s Killer Headlines week at Copyblogger! Our guest editor Jon Morrow will be delivering up great content for you all week on how to write headlines that get results.

Today, sign up for our free headline clinic, coming later this week.

Do you ever have trouble with headlines? Most content marketers do, from time to time.

Well we have good news.

Continuing the theme of yesterday’s Headline Hacks announcement, Sonia Simone and I are getting together and holding a Copyblogger headline clinic.

That’s a webinar where we rewrite your headlines for blog posts, articles, and other content. No charge of course … it’s totally free and our way of saying thanks for being the best blog readers on the web.

Got a killer idea for a blog post but can’t think of the right headline?

We’ve got you covered.

Planning to release a free report next year but stuck on the title?

We can handle that too.

Feeling totally lost but strangely attracted to the idea of watching us rip apart other people’s content and put it back together again?

We can dig it. Come enjoy the show. (But Sonia did make me promise we’d be nice.) We’ll be on the line for two hours, and we’ll tackle as many headlines as we humanly can in that space of time.

How to attend the free headline clinic

The clinic will be held live via webinar.

What to do now: Register for the headline clinic here.

Where to show up: After you register, you’ll receive email (from our friend Chris Garrett) with a link to the webinar. Just click that link this coming Thursday at 4:00 PM Eastern. Don’t wait until Thursday to register or you may not get in.

When to show up: This Thursday, December 15, from 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM Eastern (U.S.) Time

What to bring: A headline you want to make stronger. Or even a thin, vague, wispy idea for a headline. We’ll help you make it great.

There is absolutely nothing for sale. You don’t even have to believe in Christmas to attend. All you have to do is click here and register.

We’re looking forward to seeing you there!

About the Author: In addition to serving as Associate Editor of Copyblogger, Jon Morrow is on a mission to help good writers get traffic they deserve. If you’re one of them, check out his upcoming blog about (surprise!) blogging.

P.S.

If you’re looking for something to do until then, go read the announcement from yesterday and download Headline Hacks. It’s not required reading, exactly, but a lot of the stuff we are saying will make more sense.

P.P.S.

The clinics we’ve done at Copyblogger in the past have been insanely popular, and this one should be as well. So don’t forget to register. It’s a good idea to show up a few minutes early so you know you’ll get a spot.

If the webinar is maxed out, just wait a few minutes and try again. I know that sounds a little hypey, but we’ve seen it happen before, and people get really cranky disappointed when they can’t get in.

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