Last few updates by Google have made it quite obvious that social signals will play a major role in ranking content. Five to ten years ago, ranking at the top of search results was all about algorithms. To rank at the top, all you needed to do was to optimize the content copy for a set of targeted keywords. Now, search is also about people while social is just about people. That means, social media and search are highly intertwined today.

Major search engines like Google have begun to understand people (and relationships). That’s why you need to create as many social signals for your content as possible for higher search rankings.

When it comes to creating social signals for your content, titles have got a major role to play. Apart from creating content that’s really useful to your audience, you also need to make sure that your content is shared by a large number of people. The more shares your articles get, the better social signals you send to search engines. And, titles have a huge impact on shareability.

Usually, sharing is instantaneous. Great content with average titles may get a good number of shares. But it’s actually harder. Many people would share an article only because the title grabbed their attention immediately. That’s a clear signal that titles can make a great impact in terms of social sharing.

Great Titles = More Social Sharing = Better Search Rankings

Writing great titles is also a good practice from SEO point of view. Today, post titles have far outweighed meta keywords and meta description. As SEO continues to evolve, major search engines are placing more value on top quality content and downgrading over-optimized ones.

Titles are more important today than ever before.

Those few words that you use in the title will decide whether your content will be shared by thousands of people or barely noticed. Well-crafted titles can spread your content like wildfire across the web.

In their book ‘Made to Stick’, the Heath Brothers state that any good news or editorial writer may devote 80% of their time to writing the title. The time that’s left will be used to put together the body of the content.

Since social signals are vital to enhance your SEO, it’s high time to pay some careful attention to crafting titles. Some of the most important elements that make a title attention-grabbing include emotion, expectation, curiosity and benefit among others. Titles that are short, descriptive and eye-catching carry high viral potential. Though a title is just a group of few words, it’s the real game changer in the world of social media. In any case, you should never compromise on the overall quality of the article.

There are multiple ways to assess the effectiveness of your post titles. One of them is using a URL shortener. A URL shortener like bit.ly can help you a great deal in this regard. It can tell you the CTR and the number of shares for each of your links posted to different social networking websites. Using such URL shorteners, you can also A/B-test your titles.

You can get started with it by creating two different shortened links for the same article. Next, you can use two different title versions to post the article. The bit.ly stats for those links will tell you which title version made the most impact.

I would also recommend the use of Most Shared Posts WordPress Plugin. Once installed on your blog, this plugin will inform you which of your posts received the most social sharing on sites like Twitter, Facebook and Google+. This data will help you analyze the effectiveness of your titles.

How much time do you spend crafting the title of your post? Please feel free to talk back in comments.

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