I see that you clicked this post. That’s good. This post is about optimizing your page titles to maximize people clicking your website when they see it on organic search as well as clicking it when they see it show up on social media, such as Facebook and Pinterest. Although SEO is the focus here, both Sophie and I both get a substantial amount of traffic from Facebook and Pinterest. This is based on my experience with viral posts on Pinterest as well as Facebook. I’ll be walking you through creating an engaging page title for organic traffic and Facebook/Pinterest as well as how to create separate search titles for SEO.
A dear friend of mine asked how do I create a good title. Thing is that what works well for SEO might be really boring on social media where everyone has super clickable titles. That said, the same title that gets everyone to share your post on social media might not do well on SEO as it’s not well optimized for your keyword although it’s clever. It’s important to note that your SEO snippet matters too, however we’ll get into this another day.
Included this article about writing good titles
- What you need to know about SEO v. social titles
- Effective call to action title templates to use in social media titles
- SEO keywords in titles
- Short and sweet!
- Why you don’t need to do an exact match on keywords in your title
- Testing titles (A/B testing)
- Social only titles
- Misleading titles
- How to configure your website to have a separate SEO title
What you need to know about SEO v. Social titles
SEO is different than social media. With social media, we want to pique interest and make people so curious that they’ll want to click. When you see a blog post pop up on your Facebook feed, “10 reasons that you must travel to Fiji.” This kind of post does really well on Pinterest, which is a good avenue for inspiration where people are looking for ideas. It’s the same with home, lifestyle, and fashion.
Let’s assume that their keyword is travel to Fiji. However, as someone is planning a travel to a certain destination, I’m already inspired, so if that pops up when I’m planning my trip to Fiji, I’m less likely to click it as it’s not as relevant. Instead, I’m probably looking for travel tips about travel in Fiji. If I wanted to be inspired, I’d search for “Fiji travel inspiration” or something similar, but you see how that same post title won’t do as well on Google.
It’s the same with mistake articles, which do really well on social media. Let’s say that I want to learn how to create my own trellis. I spent a while on Pinterest and Google looking at photos and articles about a trellis (that little wooden thing in your backyard used to grow plants).
I can tell you that people created various articles called “50 beautiful trellis designs that you’ll want to steal” and “Mistakes that people make when creating a trellis.” I clicked every one of clickbaity article that I saw on Pinterest as I was on Pinterest to get inspired about the trellis design. I wasn’t ready to create it yet, but I was inspired by a couple of designs.
If your goal is to get traffic from Pinterest or Facebook, these titles do great. It’s good to remember that people share things on social media because they enjoyed it (or hated it), so getting shares of your website can work well with a clickable social title. These same posts can do well organically if people search for “beautiful trellis designs” like I did, but it’s not a given for all topics.
Organic traffic titles
The difference is with organic traffic, people want the answers to the questions that you’ve planted in their mind. They search for different things. On Pinterest, I may search for “trellis” just to be inspired, however that’s too broad. Instead, I searched for “photos of trellis” on Google. Armed with inspiration, I googled “buy trellis” (before correcting it to buy trellis in the Hague) and “how to build a trellis.” The difference here is searcher intent.
Simply, I’m not going to click your mistake article as I’m looking for pragmatic instructions about building the trellis and information about buying a trellis near me. The “buy trellis” articles in English weren’t relevant to me as they were mostly written by American authors–and I live in the Netherlands. Location specific cues are important if you do e-commerce.
If you’re optimizing for a keyword that your article does not answer, you will be hit with penalties as I can tell you that I saw a lot of articles about building a trellis that simply showed me of various trellis designs. However, I ended up hitting back and going to the next article. This kind of searcher behavior where a user hits back and keeps clicking other articles will incur a penalty when it comes to ranking as it doesn’t answer the question. Google looks for articles that are helpful in answering queries and if people are clicking off your website almost immediately after searching for a keyword that you optimized, you’re less likely to rank. (Related note: I have the most beautiful trellis now!)
Effective call to action title templates to use in social media titles
Generally people want to make you click. These are some sample titles that generally do well on social media. The authors often make it so appealing that you must click. Simply, you want people to be curious what provoked such a emotive response.
Some examples of social title templates that you’ll want to steal:
- A how to guide
- A simple recipe
- X reasons (with a listicle)
- Something that you’ll love or hate
- Something that you must see
- Why you must do something
- A hack that you must know
- Saving money tips
- Something inspiring
- The truth about ___
- How to do something better
- Rules about X
- Ways to succeed
- Secrets about X
- Something cute
- Something beautiful
- Something that you’ll want to steal
- Something unbelievable
- The best X
- The worst X
- A mistake that you don’t want to make
- The reason behind a crazy idea
- A brilliant idea
- Something that will change everything
- Something that you should know.
SEO keywords in titles
You SHOULD be using SEO keywords in your titles. Some people only include one keyword, but you can actually in theory use 2-3 if you’re clever about it. Let’s come up with a potential title for your article about a trellis: “Trellis Guide: 50 beautiful trellis designs and how to build your own trellis.”
Short and sweet!
It’s good to keep your titles short and sweet. If they can’t be, be sure to put the MOST clickable part of the title first, so that people read it first.
SEO keyword exact matches in the title
I used to think that I needed to have the exact keyword in the title, however this is not ideal as many SEO search terms are kind of terrible, offensive, and geographically incorrect. A lot of people just put stuff into Google looking for an answer. It doesn’t mean that your title needs to match their terrible search. You can rank perfectly well without an exact match. Google is smart enough to match queries to non-exact matches.
Sure, someone sees that your title matches their query exactly, however someone else might not want to click your link as they’ll be judgmental that you wrote post catering to people’s worst instincts. I wrote a post about the Aokigahara Forest in Japan (yes, that forest) and I could have written a lot of keywords into the title that are pretty offensive about suicide.
However, people will judge you for these clickbaity articles that appeal to people’s worst instincts or capitalize on things that aren’t the case. In many cases, they’ll refuse to click your article as they think that you’re going to write something offensive and/or be misinformed about a topic. I refuse to click those articles often myself.
Testing titles (A/B Testing)
We’re a huge fan of A/B testing here. However, it’s a bit tougher with SEO titles as it’s not always clear what makes a title do really well organically and on social. I generally use the rule that if an article isn’t doing well on either, I’ll switch it up.
Note: It’s good to save your previous SEO title in an excel somewhere, so you can change it back if your new title is even worse than the previous one. You can check through the CTR after a month.
You can look in Google Search Console to see how well your article is doing well. Go to Search Traffic then Search Analytics. From there, you’ll see how your posts are ranking on Google. It’s important to note that the first 1-4 entries get majority of the clicks on Google. CTR stands for the click through rank. Make sure all the boxes are ticked. I recommend filtering this view by Page, then sort by ranking to have the best ranking ones show up first.
For instance, you’re ranking #2, however majority of people are NOT clicking your link. You can’t see which one they’re clicking, but it’s good to google the same query in an incognito tab–and see what other results come up.
Social only titles
As mentioned, those titles above will probably do really well on your website. Consider using them to get people to click through via social media or while browsing your website, however as mentioned above, you may want to have a different title for SEO that optimizes for the keywords that you want to hit.
I see this a lot in the blogging world. Let’s say that you write an article about creating a beautiful trellis. You decided that you’ll write it, but the search quantity is not high enough for this query. Instead, you decide to write “The ONE thing that you must do when creating your garden OR else” as your SEO title. A lot of people click it and they click off almost immediately as it’s clearly not what they’re looking for when searching for “creating a garden.” Although it seems like a good idea, your article will fall in the rankings as it gets penalized for using keywords that aren’t relevant.
Simply, just use the keywords that are directly relevant to your website’s page. There’s no point in ranking for something that people won’t click to your website for. Similarly, if someone may be less likely to return to your website if you have something clickbait-y or misleading.
How to configure your post to have a separate title for SEO
You’ll need the Yoast plug-in installed. Write your social friendly website title in your title normally. This needs to be the call to action title.
Then, go to your Yoast SEO and click “Edit snippet.” Then click edit snippet. Then you have your SEO title to write with all your keywords!