All the blog posts we write do need a title to get properly ranked on Google, but how do we get a really good title for our articles, so they can really rank well on Google, pull in lots of traffic and get readers interested enough to click through and read our content?
By employing a series of steps to ensure your article titles aren’t too long, answer relevant questions and queries being typed into Google, capture multiple search terms if possible, and are also catchy and engaging when possible, we can give our articles the best chance of ranking and pulling in big traffic for multiple search terms.
Let’s look at some steps we can follow to let both Google and readers know that our content is relevant, useful, covers multiple bases and is helping to solve the problems directly related to the search terms typed in.
1. Make Sure You Are Answering Queries On Google
The main mistake to avoid is titling your articles in line with something you want to get off your chest without actually checking whether it’s something that’s actually being typed into Google by other people. If it’s not, then Google won’t rank it and you are likely wasting your time writing it.
Don’t worry so much about keyword research tools or the Keyword Golden Ratio; simply follow the very straightforward process recommended by the guys at Income School in the video above of typing queries related to your niche into Google and picking off any results which have poor or average results, writing a better article which is more helpful and covers more bases.
The Google auto-complete search feature is already telling you which search phrases are being typed into Google, and is therefore giving you all the keyword research data you need. No one knows the real search volumes except Google, and they keep this private, so don’t worry about this. If you see an opening in your niche, then write the content.
2. Keep Your Post Titles 60 Characters or Less
Another important thing to remember is to keep your article titles below 60 characters, since beyond this, Google will often truncate or cut off your title short, so readers can’t even see what it is beyond 60 characters.
This character limit includes spaces, dashes and other special characters. Try to keep the whole lot at 60 characters or less so that the full title shows up in the search results and readers know exactly what your article is about.
3. Try Titles as Statements Rather Than Questions
This is another factor which has become more apparent recently and is detailed in the Income School SEO video embedded below. In general, titles posted as statements rather than question seem to be ranking better and pulling in more traffic from adjacent or related search terms than questions at the moment.
Lets give a simple example to demonstrate this point:
- eg. Question version – “Does vaping cause cancer?”
- Statement version – “Links between vaping and cancer – the evidence”
- With semantic search Google can now tell that the two titles are addressing the same issue, but you can see one title is posed as a question, whilst the other is posed as a statement.
- At present, some experienced bloggers are recommending to use statements rather than questions to title your blog posts.
This is something which has been observed through testing by successful internet marketers such as the guys at Income School. This doesn’t mean that articles titled as questions, which then thoroughly answer that question, can’t rank well and draw in good traffic. It just appears that statement titles can sometimes do better in terms of traffic, pulling in more from closely related searches.
That does not however mean you should abandon question article titles altogether; you may find some of them do very well. In fact, in many niches, these kind of longer tail question queries often bring in Quora or Reddit results at the top of the rankings, which can be easy to outrank if you write a better answer covering more bases. Google will tend to prefer a full website or a blog to a forum result like Quora.
It just means that it may be a good idea to mix up your blog posts between question titles and statement titles, and check your Google Analytics to see if a certain type of post does better and pulls in more traffic. You may find your niche goes against this rule and question titles do better!
4. Try To Make Your Titles Interesting and Catchy
Another important factor, especially for more competitive search terms, is to make your title stand out in the search results so readers are intrigued and want to click more to find out. This is especially important if you are going up against big sites for some search terms, or all the top results have the same kind of title and you want to do something different to stand out.
Here are some examples of good titles, and things to bear in mind when titling articles:
- Presenting articles as a hit-list of tips, advice or reasons can be engaging and get your content shared on social media
- eg. “Top tips for”, “Best ways to” is one way of engaging readers.
- Sometimes you can also make it clear you are challenging consensus or critiquing something to make readers want to click through and read.
- eg. ” Top reasons why vaping isn’t bad for your teeth”
- eg. “Follow these simple rules to get better at …..”
- eg. “Why doing X doesn’t lead to Y” (original search: “does doing X lead to Y?”
- Make sure you are also staying within the parameters of targeting real search phrases though, so Google knows what your content is about. At least part of the title needs to be addressing a search phrase.
- Google can do semantic search nowadays to tell when you are using equivalent or alternative words, but still focus on targeting real search phrases.
This is definitely a fine line though between “catchiness” and clickbaiting. This is important to actually make sure your content is useful, engaging and helps readers solve the problem they came to Google to solve.
If your content is pure clickbait and is just titled to get the click, but the content is no good, Google will see this by the way readers behave on your website, and you will in time lose ranking and credibility as Google can see that readers click, but don’t stick around because the content isn’t useful to them.
5. Use “Buffet” Titles To Capture More Search Terms
This is another important point that comes from the Income School guys and relates to giving your articles the best chance of ranking for multiple different search terms and pulling in more traffic.
By “buffet titles”, we mean titling your articles in such a way that they capture multiple different search terms or phrases that are relevant to the content of your article. You are laying out to Google and the readers a “buffet” of all the different topics your article covers.
Buffet titles are also a way of narrowing down very specific initial parts of a title to more precisely specify to readers and Google what bases your content is hitting. This can be useful if your article title is very broad and could mean any number of different things – you need to tell Google more precisely what your blog post is about.
Let’s look at a couple of examples of this:
- eg. 1 – “does vaping stain teeth” and “does vaping damage teeth” are both Google search phrases. You could write separate articles for each one, but how about combining them into one article “Does vaping stain and damage teeth?”
- As long as your article covers both bases well, you can then rank for both search terms with the one article.
- eg. 2 “is vaping legal?” is a bit too broad and generic? Legal where? There are viewers from many different countries typing this into Google, so it helps to be more specific. There are several ways you can approach this.
- You can write separate articles for the main countries – “is vaping legal in USA?” and the same for UK, Canada, Australia etc.
- You can combine them all into one buffet title and do one massive article – “Is vaping legal in USA, UK, Canada & Australia?”
- The general idea here is that you are allowing Google to potentially rank your article for more search queries, and pull in more traffic over the long term, by being very specific in your article title about exactly which bases your content covers.
It also saves you wasted time reproducing content that is essentially the same advice targeted at different keywords. For example, there is not really any point writing separate posts for “how to rank articles for blogs” and “how to rank articles for niche sites”. The advice is basically going to be the same, so it makes sense to combine them into one article – “how to rank articles for blogs & niche sites”.
If you can’t fit all the possible “buffet” phrases you want to into a 60 character title, then it is a good idea to put a statement in bold right at the start of your article, mentioning the other phrases, issues, problems the information in your article is also useful for solving. The idea is get Google’s attention and let it know your article is aimed at more phrases than you could fit in the title.
As an example you could write at the beginning of your post: “The information in this article is also useful for XYZ issues or problems”, if you could not fit these phrases in your buffet title.
6. Keep The URL of the Article Short
As a related issue to the title of the blog post, also make sure the URL or actual hyperlink of the article is modified down to make it as short as possible, since Google does prefer shorter URL links to longer ones in ranking. Your actual titles which show up on Google can be long (within the 60 character limit), but the URL link needs to be kept shorter.
This means you can cut down any unnecessary words in the actual article title, taking them out of the URL link, so it just contains the key idea of what your article is about. The article hyperlink shows up just below the actual full title in WordPress and can be edited to make it shorter.
Here is an example:
- eg. Actual article title – “7 tips for vaping to quit smoking”
- modify the URL link down to “/tips-vaping-to-quit-smoking”
- eg. 2. Actual article title – “What’s the best way to clean a vape pen?”
- modify URL link down to “/best-way-to-clean-vape-pen”
Notice this is also leaving room for you to change the title of your article if you need to, without it affecting the hyperlink. For example, you may later come up with 2 more tips and now want to make it “9 tips for vaping to quit smoking”. In this case you can modify your title without affecting the URL link, since you’ve cut it down to just the bare essentials.
This is also very useful for date sensitive posts, which need updating every year or sooner to reflect latest trends and searches eg. “Best vapes 2019”. If you leave your URL as “/best-vapes”, you can keep updating your title to 2020, 2021 etc as the years pass, without it affecting your URL.
7. Write Blog Posts in the Right Order on New Sites
Another important SEO strategy mentioned in the above video for bloggers starting a brand new site is to write your articles in a very specific order to get your content ranking on Google in the shortest possible time.
Google likes to see a natural progression from longer, very specific post titles to broader, shorter and more competitive keyword searches on a new site in order to start giving it more authority and trust in searches.
This means you need to write your content in a certain order to lessen the time Google takes to trust and rank your blog posts. Here is a general rule of thumb:
- 1. Start off with longer, very specific and less competitive post titles and keyword searches, with some qualifiers:
- Make sure your titles are still 60 characters or less as we mentioned above.
- Make sure your titles are actually search phrases which come up on Google autocomplete.
- 5-8 word keyword search phrases are good places to start, whilst also staying within the above two parameters.
- eg. “Does vaping for the first time hurt?”
- Aim to start your site off with 10-20 of these type of posts, often 1200-1500 words, but can be longer sometimes.
- 2. Then move up to longer, slightly broader perhaps shorter, but more competitive and in depth search phrases/post titles, which require a more in depth answer and usually have more competitive results.
- Slightly shorter blog post titles, or just a longer phrase that is more in depth and needs a longer article.
- Often 2000-2500 words.
- Are often titled as shareable content eg. “7 top tips for….”, “7 ways to…..” etc.
- 4-6 word search phrases as a general rule of thumb, but not precise. Can be longer or shorter.
- eg. “Is vaping as bad as smoking?”
- 3. Then move up to much broader, shorter search phrases which are much more competitive and require a really in depth, high quality article to compete with search results from big, authoritative sites in the niche.
- Shorter blog titles/search phrases – 3-5 words, but can still vary
- Broader but more widely searched topics, searches contain results from big sites.
- Long, detailed content, 3000-4000 words, covering a lot of bases.
- eg. “best vapes 2019 UK”
- Harder to rank for but can draw in huge traffic if you do.
The whole idea here is to progressively build up trust on Google. Once it sees you can write good content for the longer, really specific and less competitive search terms, it will start to trust you with more competitive searches, and may eventually give you a shot with the really competitive keyword searches that can really bring in traffic, but only after you have proven yourself first with the less competitive and more specific search terms.
If you want to follow a formula for building brand new blogs and niche sites to success, including even more specific information on how to write content to get it to rank well on Google, then check out Income School’s Project 24 program, which takes you through a step by step process of building a new site up to success from scratch. Their approach is content focused, down to earth and without any SEO tricks or fads.
Click here to visit the Project 24 sign up page.