One of the toughest tasks for a new website owner – or a small business owner new to creating content for their website – is figuring out the best way to name their blog posts and pages on their website.
The process can be stressful.
Social media gurus say you should use a “BuzzFeedy” type headline, like – “13 super-simple landscaping tricks to make your neighbors faint with jealousy.”
You think a title that’s more straight to the point is a better idea, like – “How to get your lawn ready for winter.”
Which should you use?
The answer is simple – use them both (and even more).
You may or may not know, but your website page/blog post has two separate titles. One title that is displayed on the page to the reader, and another that is displayed in search results. Later, we’ll create even more “titles” to use on social media.
Since my specialty is creating digital marketing strategies for local small businesses, most of the tips and advice in this post will focus on small businesses who sell to local customers. As well, I build the majority of websites for small businesses using the WordPress platform, so the examples in this post will be focused on using WordPress. That said, you’ll be able to gobble up a few pointers, no matter the type of website you own or the website platform you use.
The Basics of Creating a Page or Blog Post Title
When I deliver a new website to a small business owner, I always give them a walk-through with some basic tips for creating content for their website – from product or service pages to blog posts. Many of the basic strategies are the same, no matter what type of content you are creating.
This blog post contains tips and advice for beginner and novice website content creators. Sign up for our newsletter to get all of our small business and digital marketing blog posts via email.
Going forward in this post, the use of the words “post” and “page” are interchangeable. They mean the same thing – a page of content on your website.
1 – Use keywords in blog post titles
This is the most basic of basic. Make sure your blog post has a single focus, and make sure to use that focused keyword in your blog post title. For the super-newbie, a keyword is not usually a single word, instead a phrase that describes your blog post. This may be a few words, like “Kansas City web designer” or a full sentence. Either way, make sure your post’s title is clear about it’s content. Don’t bait and switch your readers.
2 – When in doubt, use lay terminology over industry jargon in page titles
This is a subject that many small business owners forget to consider. Remember, you’re in the guts of the industry every day. You know every acronym. You know the proper name of type of shingle for the roof of every type of house. Your customers do not. You MUST think like the customer, not like a industry vet. Write your title with lay terminology when possible, then discuss both jargon and lay terms within the website page. This way, your content has a better chance of ranking in search results for all types of potential customers – from the know-nothings to the die-hard researcher.
3 – Be honest to the post’s content in the page title
I said it above, don’t bait and switch. Use your post’s title to give the reader a real idea of what to expect in the post. Can you make it sound more exciting – sure. But, don’t give something completely different.
4 – Create a page title that is “on-brand”
Just because BuzzFeedy style post titles are trendy, that doesn’t mean you have to create that type of title for your blog post. If your business is a “serious” brand that sells serious products, don’t feel pressured to be funny, goofy, or over-the-top. The respect of your potential customers is more important than getting a handful of extra clicks-throughs from social media.
Adding the Title to your Blog Post
As I mentioned above, the following examples will use WordPress for our examples.
5 – Add a unique title to every blog post and page
Every page on your website should have a unique title and unique focus. In WordPress, the title is added in a box at the top of every post – and you must add a title to every post
6 – Install an SEO plugin to help you add a separate <title> tag to your post
I recommend the Yoast SEO WordPress plugin to help with blog post titles. For the purpose of this post, Yoast SEO will help us add a different title to the <title> tag that is seen by the search engines than what is displayed on-page to your readers.
7 – Add a separate title to your website for the <title> tag
The <title> tag allows you to add a different title to your blog post that will show up in the search results. This allows you to use a more relaxed title on-page (displayed to reader), and use a more “formal” title that may be closer to the actual search terms people may use to find your post/website.
Using Yoast SEO, a box is displayed at the bottom every time you create a new page or blog post
I use the <title> tag to set a second title on nearly every blog post and page on my website.
Here’s an example from one of the most popular blog posts on this website – “Get more Google My Business reviews by giving customers a direct link to the review form”
The on-page title, seen by readers:
The <title> tag, seen in Google search results:
As you can see, the titles are similar, but different.
8 – Optimize your <title> tag for search results
In your <title> tag, use a title that is more likely to fit the results of searchers. The title tag is a big ranking factor in search results, so spend some time creating the <title> tag. As well, the title that is displayed in search results is shorter than what you can display on your own website. In general, you have about about 70 characters to work with in the title tag for Google search results.
9 – The page title is not permanent
Always remember, your website’s content is not permanent. You can change your title at a later date. In fact, I highly recommend that you regularly revisit your older blog posts and webiste pages to update content and titles to meet current standards, trends, pricing, etc.
Blog post titles in social media
There’s a good chance you’re going to be sharing your blog post across all of your social media profiles. It’s time to get even more creative – and feel free to add a bit more of your personality when sharing on social media.
10 – Feel free to use different titles in social media posts
So, we’ve already created two titles for your blog post – now you need to create even more.
Start thinking of all the different interesting titles or descriptive statements you could use for your post title in a less formal way. These are all additional titles great for social media sharing.
For example, I might also call this post “12 Tips for Creating Awesome Blog Post Titles for your WordPress Blog.” That type of title doesn’t completely fit the Search Centered website brand, but it’s perfect for me to share on social media.
11 – Come up with lots of “headlines” for your blog post
When sharing a blog post on social media, I refer to the accompanying text as a headline, rather than a title. I will share this post on social media approximately 13 times across 4 different social media platforms, using this social media sharing schedule (approximately). Following this social media schedule, I will need at least 7 headlines for this post, so I don’t duplicate any of the titles when posting to Twitter.
Once you complete your blog post, read through it – are there any quotable lines? Do you list anything? Do you quote a well-known person or brand? All of this can be used to create a social media headline.
12 – Test out your social media headlines
CoSchedule provides a great free tool called Blog Post Headline Analyzer. While they pitch the tool for creating blog post titles for on-page, SEO and social media, I only use it to help me tweak social media headlines AFTER I have already created a big list.
Take time to create the right title for your blog posts and pages. Make sure to think like a customer, not a industry pro. Create descriptive titles, and revisit old posts to update outdated content and titles. The more often you create content for your website, the easier it will become – and the easier it will become to create great and descriptive titles.
This is a beginner level blog post, and a simple checklist for established content creators. As you become more comfortable creating content, you will get better at writing titles. As well, you can start using analytics data to drive the types and topics of the content you create.