All writers strive to be creative. From our first five-paragraph essay to our most recent blog post, our mentors have been telling us to be imaginative and think outside the box. Sure, being creative and finding new ways to express yourself can get you noticed. However, when it comes to the title of your posts, you should start thinking inside the box. This doesn’t mean you have to think of boring titles to dumb down the topic of your writing. Instead, you have to be smart and strategic when you name your post.
Think about the way people search online. Maybe even to find this post, you searched for a simple question. People often go to Google with questions in mind. “What should I feed my cat when he’s sick,” or “How do I know if I have heat stroke?” These questions are simple to answer, but many websites make them more complicated by getting creative with the title. For example, a medical blog might answer the second question in a straightforward article, but might name it “The Dangers of Hyperthermia.” The person suffering from heat stroke is not going to take the time to even look at this lengthy article, and they probably don’t even know offhand that “hyperthermia” is the technical term for heat stroke. Even though that website has exactly what the heat-stroke sufferer needs (aside from a cold glass of water), it will not receive this valuable click. Instead, the curious web surfer will move on to the next search result hoping for answers.
So, what should you name your post to get traffic? The answer is simpler than you might think. You need to answer people’s questions directly in the title. If the person with heat stroke saw, “How to tell if You Have Heat Stroke” in the list of results, there is a good chance he or she would click it right away, because it is the answer to their question. It’s impossible to know exactly what your audience will be searching for, but if you include one of the following six words in your title, you’re bound to answer hundreds of the questions that pop up around the web.
First of all, anyone searching for a specific question will probably use the word “what” in their search, which will put you higher up on the Google search results. Obviously, if you answer the question they typed in but there’s no indication of that in the HTML code or title, you might not even come up in the search results. Second, there is a higher chance of people clicking on your page if it seems to answer exactly the question they have in their head. If they’re wondering what foods are low in carbs, or what the best airline is, you can answer their question in the title. It’s essentially reading their minds and beating them to the punch. Articles such as “What to Avoid in Your Next Job Interview” or “What Foods Help Your Kids Concentrate” are irresistible even to people who just happen to stumble upon them.
When you use the word “how” in your title, people will assume you have some sort of secret to share. “How-to” books have always been popular, and it’s because the word “how” indicates that there is a simple and direct way to learn something new. If you’re going to tell people how to do something in a single post, there’s a good chance they’ll grasp the concept and walk away that much smarter. The word “how” can appear in titles of all sorts of articles. They can be simple, serious, funny, or informative. For example, some “how” titles include:
- How to Register to Vote
- How to Organize Your Shoe Collection
- How to Get Ready for Work in Ten Minutes or Less
- How to Impress your In-Laws
- How to Find Love without Dating Sites
Obviously, some of these articles are ones that people would directly search for to learn something. Upon their search, your article would be most appealing from a list. Others are funny and would catch the eye of anyone just perusing your site. When you set out to answer a single, simple “how” question, the answer becomes a secret that no one can resist.
This is another way to make your article sound like a simple article. It might seem difficult to pare down your title to contain any of these words, but with a strategic attitude, anything can apply. The “where” titles are perfect if you’re writing for a local site or if you’re simply doing a regional article. For example, you might have a post called, “My Favorite Burger Joints in Memphis.” People that know you will be excited to read this, like your mom. Otherwise, people won’t really care which you like unless you’re a world-renowned expert. Instead, try titling your post, “Where to Get the Best Burger in Memphis.”
Everyone loves to gossip and hear about other peoples’ victories and failures. It’s why sites like Facebook are so addictive. For that reason, using the word “who” in your title ensures readers that they’ll get some juicy information on a single person, and that’s almost impossible to resist. Articles like, “Who Flashed the Paparazzi on her Way to the VMA’s?” “Who Made Oprah Cry on National TV?” and “Who Bought a $300 Dress for Their Baby?” are all enticing to readers. Obviously, the “who” question is more applicable to celebrity, TV, and political news, but you can try to spin it to fit your article.
Using the word “when” in your title will give your readers a sense of urgency to hear what you have to say immediately. Even if they didn’t ask “when,” they’ll probably read your article to make sure it’s not already too late anyway. For example, your audience might have searched, “How do I start a new career?” and you might have a post titled, “When to Change Careers.” Your post sounds even more interesting than the one they were looking for, so you’ll get more traffic that way.
At the root of all questions is a resounding, “why?” You can answer more serious and more complex questions with a “why,” so you should try putting it in your title. “Why You Need to Stop Eating Meat,” “Why Your Boyfriend Left You,” and “Why You’re So Stressed All the Time” will certainly get your article attention. People see the statement, and even if they weren’t interested when they started searching, they’ll find it difficult not to click and at least browse the page.
By using one of these six words in the title of your article, you are giving up on more flowery, artistic titles. However, you are also making your post irresistibly appealing, which translates into getting more visitors for your site. These titles make your article sound simple and straightforward, which charms the waning attention spans of most people searching the Internet every day.
Ever tried to search something in the internet and ended up annoyed by the top search result’s poor content? Good news. Google has announced that it is making a way to fix that. It seems that in order to achieve the birth of a pleasant internet experience, we have to wish for the death of over optimized blogs and the extinction of over optimized SEO voodoo.
What Is an Over Optimized SEO?
It is a rat race even in the internet. Web pages compete for every view and visit. When you search the net for anything, the search responds with search engine result pages (SERP). SERP ranks web pages that are likely to give you what you need. Search engine optimization (SEO) largely influences the SERP ranking. Over optimized blogs target to get to the top of SERP and not really to help the user.
Search engines devised algorithms to determine relevance to you search based on keyword matches, popularity and authority but because these cannot really review content, users often find themselves in over optimized blogs with low-quality content.
When we say over optimized SEO, websites such as over optimized blogs are using too much key words and hyperlinks to manipulate its way to the top of the SERP.
Google: The Quality Hunter
This March 2012, Matt Cutts, head of Google search spam team has announced in SXSW panel that they are trying to work on a new algorithm that can outwit over optimized SEO strategies and bypass over optimized blogs. Google is also planning to penalize over optimized blogs by placing them last on the SERPs, or never at all.
Cutts said during the panel that they want to “make the playing field a bit more level” between those who use over optimized SEO and those who are just trying to make useful sites.
Is This the End of SEO?
Punk and metal might be dead but not definitely SEO. The Google’s banshee cries are only about over optimized SEO techniques and over optimized sites or blogs.
Cutts clarified that SEO techniques that marketers have been using will stay around because they are undeniably useful. He said they make the internet “crawlable” and they make the sites more accessible. So it seems that white hat wearers have to fear nothing at all.
Black Hat: Over Optimized SEO
White hat is good. Black hat is bad. And although some may complain that this sounds like stereotyping and racism, these are really the two categories of SEO. The former is the sort that employs no deception, sticks to a search engine’s rules, gives you what you need to know and refers you other helpful sites. The black hat is the opposite and it’s what over optimized blogs are wearing. Over optimized SEO is definitely a black hat. Soon enough this terrible faux pas will die once Google is through with its algorithm.
It seems Google is serious in playing the hero (which is the good thing) but there is absolutely no reason to panic unless you are running over optimized blogs. If what you have is low-ranking but legit and view worthy, it’s safe and sound.
How To Avoid Over Optimized SEO and Over Optimized Blogs
As mentioned earlier, SEO is an important and indispensable aspect of internet search. However, your parents are right: anything is bad when overdone. To keep out of Google’s shunning and ill-favor, here are the basic steps:
- Do not over-stuff with keywords
SEO relies on keyword density use. It means it can calculate the degree of your web content’s relevance to a search by how many times a keyword appears. An over optimized SEO or black hat (you know what that means now, don’t you?) will saturate its content with those keywords. You’ll pretty much be reading a lengthy article with little help. An ideal keyword density is said to be only between 1% to 3%.
- No link toxicity
Aside from content, search engines’ algorithms judge your web page’s rank by popularity. You are popular when you link is posted in many other web sites.Likewise, you’ll get higher in ranking when you post other links in your web site. This move is supposed to help the users over optimized SEO strategists will fill their webpage with futile, irrelevant links and hyperlinks.
- Don’t Tolerate Over Optimized Blogs
If you spot what seems to be an over optimized blog, get out of there! Some theorizes that the length of time you’re staying with a site affect its ranking. Don’t even add a link of an over optimized blog on your own site. It makes you seem like an accessory to the crime.
- Site Goodness: Mean It
It seems safer to be genuinely kind. Don’t deceive users by appearing to be helpful when all you want are views. Ironically, the more you want visits so desperately that you use over optimized SEO, the less likely you will get it.
Apparently, the more a web page concentrates on the quality and not on the visibility of its content, the more likely it will get more views and make it to the honor roll of Google’s SERP. Just go with what the users need, not with what the search engine wants. Very soon, over optimized blogs will be history but maybe now we can already start saying, ‘adios over optimized SEO, hello better and satisfying internet experience.’