SEO

How to Write Sassy SEO Titles that Go Viral

A good title is a door for readers to enter your site. Then, it is up to you to make them feel at home, it is up to you to make them stay, and up to you to make them return. The way you “treat” your visitors on your site makes them talk about you, and converts casual readers into brand ambassadors.

typing How to Write Sassy SEO Titles that Go Viral

The SEO Challenge

A good title is the best bet to insure  the content you want people to read, or to share on social networks, has a fair chance of going viral. Its value is not only in the keywords you use, but also in shareability and influence.

When they speak of SEO titles, content writers usually think of a keyword-rich line of text designed to rank in Google SERPs and other major search engines. But ranking by keyword density alone is a matter of old-school, outdated, SEO. Aside keywords, search engines are now considering other factors to rank content, with popularity, influence, authority and reliability at the top of the list.

Our web contains many thousands of great articles, with awesome titles, that don’t rank well, and cannot even be found. Most of these are on new sites, or on sites that are not popular (visited and shared on social media) enough to be considered influential. Their content is not less reliable, it is just less authoritative in the “eyes” of the search engines.

To overcome the new SEO challenges, you need to become an authority, to go that extra mile and to create content that is interesting and share-worthy. The thing that gets the most attention is your title.

Keep It Short, Smarty!

If you cannot say it in one breath, it is too long. And length matters. A short title is catchy, attention-grabbing, easy to read and easy to remember. On the Internet, a title is a hook, bait – a means to get visitors on your page. Generally, title display in search engines is limited to 70 characters, sometimes less – so even for SEO purposes titles need to be short.

Twitter titles How to Write Sassy SEO Titles that Go Viral

To share on Twitter, titles need to be short enough to allow URLs, user names, #hashtags, and more.

To go viral on Twitter, for example, titles need to be short enough to share on Twitter together with the URL (even shortened URL), and Twitter user names. Facebook displays titles pretty much like a search engine, so length is important there too. If your title is too long, it automatically gets trunked to fit the character limit. Lengthy titles also tend to lose readers rather than gaining them.

In the example below, the first title is too long to be shown in full by Google News. Readers will not see why three people died in California – they only see where. The why, however, is more relevant in this case, so readers will likely click more on the second and third titles, as they deliver clear information upfront:

titles on search engines How to Write Sassy SEO Titles that Go Viral

The first title in this example was too long, so the search engines cut it to fit their character limit. Unfortunately, important information in that title cannot be read.

Make It Irresistible!

What makes a title irresistible? A special something, that certain je ne sais quoi that makes people want to read more. Be sassy and use potent words to make your titles resonate. Keep in mind that potent words of the past are no longer that potent today. “Great” and “best” are passé. But synonyms like “epic” and “awesome” are more attention grabbing. Tease your readers if you have to, make them want to read, make them long for more. “Don’t Ask? Internet Still Tells.”

intriguing title How to Write Sassy SEO Titles that Go Viral

An example of an intriguing title that will trigger readers’ curiosity.

What’s in It for the Reader?

“How to” titles never fail to grab clicks, regardless how redundant they are. They deliver a promise to the reader, that the article that follows is jam-packed with actionable information. But “how to” are not the only titles that can trigger interest. Titles like “top reasons why ” or “10 things you should know about…” still work, so if you cannot find anything more original, stick to what’s tested and proven to deliver, but try to give a creative twist, using unexpected words . For example, “How to Write Sassy SEO Titles that Go Viral” or “How to Write Magnetic Headlines,” and so on.

three how to titles How to Write Sassy SEO Titles that Go Viral

Make It Your Own

Try to be as original as you can be, even when you follow a formula. Pretending to something, or someone you are not, is deceiving. So be honest, and write about what you know. Make your titles show off that knowledge, to make readers understand that you are an authority in the subject, before they clicked to read more. A good, clear and honest title reveals the core of an article. You can be emphatic and intriguing, but never deceptive.

marketing title How to Write Sassy SEO Titles that Go Viral

Instead of Conclusion

While general writing rules apply in most niches, every industry is different: you will have to do more than just following a formula. Know your audience, and build content for that purpose. Don’t write for clicks, write to engage. Make your readers passionate about your knowledge, show them that the content you have to share is valuable.

You can write about the same topic other people have already addressed, but bring something new to it, something that few people thought about. But more importantly, understand that the title cannot work alone. It has to be followed by equally interesting content – in other words, it has to deliver on its promise. This is the only way to convert visitors into an engaged community, ready to share your work, acting like true ambassadors for your brand.

 How to Write Sassy SEO Titles that Go Viral
Mihaela Lica Butler is senior partner at Pamil Visions PR and editor at Everything PR. She is a widely cited authority on search engine optimization and public relations issues (BBC News, Reuters, Al Jazeera and others), with an experience of over 10 years in online PR.

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22 thoughts on “How to Write Sassy SEO Titles that Go Viral

  1. Definitely, knowing your audience is one of the key rule of getting traffic and improve your visibility on search engine.

  2. Excellent article and I have seen many websites where the titles are generic filenames with no SEO value or readership to be gained from them. I tell all my clients to spend some time or money thinking about the humble page title:)

  3. Very interesting article, I love how your own title is an example of the concept you are trying to teach. I was intrigued in deed. :)

  4. Great post, Mihaela! Tying in with your thoughts on Making It Your Own, in my opinion the secret to a great title tag is writing something that’s clickable and attention-grabbing while still SEO-friendly – you don’t necessarily have to sacrifice one for the other. You can also write content that has a bit more personality to suit, which will be more memorable and shareable anyway.

    For example, if you wanted to write titles for:

    - seo vs ppc
    - good ux / bad ux
    - how to improve your seo

    You could write titles such as:

    - SEO vs PPC: The Ultimate Battle
    - The Good, The Bad & The UXgly
    - How To Improve Your SEO The Sherlock Holmes Way

    For people Googling “how to improve your seo”, if nine of the articles’ are titled “How To Improve Your SEO” and one ends “…The Sherlock Holmes Way,” which one are searchers more likely to click on?

    What’s worrying is that I’m not even a copywriter – maybe I should change careers…?

  5. I personally like your this statement “You can write about the same topic other people have already addressed, but bring something new to it.” You are absolutely right, nowadays you can see thousands of article related to one topic but what matters most is your technique of writing & the speciality you brought in your article. If you’ll write the same content with the same taste like others have written it , you may likely to fall down. Write in such a way or style which is absolutely unique from others.

    Thanks.

  6. After reading this post and all the comments (especially steve’s) it makes my old school knowledge of SEO seem boring and antiquated. I’ve recently read that internet users are bombarded by information these days and that it’s better to inject humor into blog posts and websites but I worry about mixing humor and information. I think I’m starting to get it! Thank you for posting, Mihaela. I look forward to reading more of your posts.

    Oh and by the way, Steve. Do you really think Sherlock Holmes did SEO? ;)

  7. Obvioulsy the title should give idea to user about what the article is, which is more important to drive traffic to the same. This activity is most important for all the offsite activities of SEO to build up the customer base.

  8. Nice post, Mihaela ! I agree with on that we can write about the same topic which have been addressed already but we need to bring something new to it. Internet world itself is giant and sometimes it is hard to create an interesting title which can go viral, but bringing something new even to old is an interesting task which can produce valuable content, thus a Nice Title.

    Thank you !

  9. Mihaela,

    Great post. People often forget that, even if they get to the top spots on the search engines, they still need compelling titles to get the click over others.

    Cheers,
    Richard

  10. Some really good tips here. What I like to do is to keep it simple. I’ve seen a lot of websites go to great lengths to write crazy titles and then have disappointing content to go along with it. This can lead to the user having a very bad impression of the website.

    Writing a title which fairly represents the content of the article and isn’t there to simply make someone look at it and increase pageviews is the best way to go, in my opinion.

    TechCrunch are the worst when it comes to this.

  11. It’s all very well creating unique, intriguing titles and captivating content that grabs the attention of the reader and excites them enough to want to share it with others. However, If you haven’t got a decent enough platform to write your content in the first place, then it’s not even going to be visible in the search engines for anyone to find.

    For example: Wikihow will show up on the first page of Google for almost any keywords, even though some of their pages are poorly written and contain about three paragraphs.

    Whereas other sites like Hubpages are suffering because of the recent Google updates, and so are the writers, even though some are providing top quality content and awe inspiring written work.

    What advice would you give to people in that situation. Churning out top quality articles and Google saying “nah. Even though it’s of high quality with excellent on page and off page SEO, you’re not getting passed page five no matter what you do?” All because the main site has been Google slapped, so to speak.