Why Writing Headlines For Search Engines Like Google Will Get You More Readers

googleI’ll admit, for quite a long time I neglected a HUGE source of traffic to many of my sites – namely, search engines such as Google, Yahoo! and Bing. And yet Google want to send you and I visitors to our sites and blogs – that’s their business!

So if you have a blog, Google would love to send you traffic… IF they can detect that your post is relevant to its users.

Headlines play an important role in Google deciding whether a page is relevant or not. And when it comes to writing headlines, many bloggers (and copywriters in particular) are great at coming up with witty, attention-grabbing ones that HUMANS¬† think are clever… but are lousy at attracting search engine traffic.

To my mind, that’s a big mistake. After all, search engines like Google can generate you a ton of traffic – and you don’t have to pay for it.

One of the keys to attracting this traffic is to optimize your headlines and posts for a particular keyphrase or set of keywords. (A keyphrase is just something that people would type into a search engine, such as “how to train your dog”.)

How important are keyphrase optimized headlines to Google? You can find out by running a couple of searches yourself, but let’s have a look at the Top 20 results for the phrase how to train your dog, in Google:

1. How To Train A Dog, dog training tips and techniques for home …
2. How To Train A Puppy | Puppy Training | Potty & House Training …
3. How to Train Your Dog Yourself | eHow.com
4. How to Train Your Dog | eHow.com
5. (Video results for how to train your dog)
6. Puppy and Dog Obedience Training
7. Training Your Dog
8. (News results for how to train your dog)
9. (Book results for how to train your dog)
10. Karen Pryor Clickertraining| dog training and cat training info …
11. How To Train Your Dog To Heel Off The Leash – Dog & Puppy Advice …
12. Teach Your Dog to Sit: Basic Dog Obedience Commands | Suite101.com
13. Amazon.com: Train Your Dog – The Positive Gentle Method: Nicole …
14. [PDF] Crate Training Your Dog
15. HowStuffWorks “How to Train a Dog: Tips and Guidelines”
16. Secrets to Dog Training | Dog Obedience Training to Solve Dog
17. Easy Dog Training, Dog & Puppy Obedience Training, Dog Grooming
18. Dog Training and Obedience Lessons
19. THERAPY DOGS – TRAINING YOUR DOG TO REACH OTHERS – Welcome to …
20. How to Train Your Dog & Puppy Obedience Training by the Experts

You’ll notice that none of the results in the Top 20 could be said to be particularly clever headlines, but ALL OF THEM contain some or all of the keywords in the phrase “how to train your dog”, or related words such as “training”, “teach” and “puppy”.

(Incidentally, in your searches you might find a clever and witty headline in the Top 10, but I’m willing to bet it’s on an already popular blog that is already well ranked on Google, OR the keyphrase is not very popular.)

In other words, the headline of your blog post is important to Google, because it determines how relevant the post might be to Google searchers. (It’s certainly not the only factor, but it IS a factor).

So here’s two steps you can take to increase your chances of generating Google traffic to your next blog post:

(1) If people wanted to find the information you wrote about in your post, ask yourself what keywords they might use in Google.

For example, this article is about writing headlines to generate more search engine traffic, so I think the main keywords would be: writing headlines search engines Google.

Don’t pick too many, otherwise you’ll find step 2 very difficult, which is…

(2) Create a good headline based around those keywords.

Remember, Google and humans have different ideas about what makes a “good” headline. For Google, it’s about RELEVANCE. If someone types in “how to write headlines for Google”, I would love for this post to show up… and it’s more likely to do that IF my headline reflects these keywords somehow.

So how do I get from “writing headlines search engines Google” to something that seems like a pretty decent headline for both humans and Google? For this post, I wrote down a brief statement of what the article is about, using those keywords:

Writing headlines that pull search engine traffic from Google, that humans also enjoy.

Then I thought about incorporating the benefits of doing this, which is “you get more traffic… and hopefuly blog readers”. So let’s see if I can convert that into a headline:

Why Writing Headlines For Search Engines Like Google Will Get You More Readers

Now, I’ll be the first to admit it’s not the cleverest headline in the world… BUT it’s nicely optimized to pick up traffic from Google for anyone searching for the subject of writing headlines for search engines. (Oh, and if you’re paying attention, you’ll notice the CONTENT of this post is doing that as well.)

Headlines are by no means the only thing Google uses, but it’s a factor, because a headline that closely matches the keyword search is likely to be relevant. So before you use that clever and witty headline, ask yourself:

If people are searching for that topic on Google, will my headline help them to find it?

By the way, I’m not telling you to stop using clever and witty headlines. I’m simply saying that, Google is a robot, a machine that attempts to deduce value and relevance automatically. So if you want Google traffic, clever and witty is not machine readable… but keyword optimized headlines are.

6 Reasons Why Every Freelance Writer And Copywriter Should Be Blogging

Blogging can be hard work at times, there’s no denying it.¬† However, I think it’s worth it! Here are 6 reasons why I recommend that every freelance writer and copywriter should have an active blog to which they regularly post:

(1) Blogging establishes your authority and expertise.

Your clients want to be confident that you know what you’re doing, and you’ll do the best possible job for them. You can use your blog to demonstrate in advance that you “know your stuff”, as it were.

(2) Blogging can pre-sell.

“Pre-selling” is about getting prospects warmed up for your offer, product or service, but not directly selling it.

For instance, let’s say you sell a writing service for other blogs, and one of your specialities is creating blog posts that compel people to subscribe. On your own blog, you could write a post that pre-sells this aspect of your writing, i.e. “5 Reasons You NEED Compelling Blog Posts That Suck People In”.

If the reader agrees with the premise of your post (that they need compelling blog posts), you’ve pre-sold them on a particular feature of your writing service. We’ll talk more about pre-selling tomorrow, and I’ll share some of the secrets I’ve discovered about using this technique over the past 10 years.

(3) Blogging saves you repeating yourself.

If you find a lot of clients are asking you the same question, write a blog post on the subject! Rather than having to explain yourself over and over again, simply point them to your blog post which talks about it.

(4) Blogging brings you traffic.

Search engines love good quality blogs, because blogs often supply fresh, bite-sized content that is perfect for search engine users.

For that reason, you’ll want to make sure your blog is “optimized” for search engines. Matt Cutts of Google recently spoke at WordCamp San Fransisco, and shared some great tips on how to do this. (You can watch the video here. It’s long, but well worth it.)

Combine this with blog commenting, being a guest writer on other blogs, and having an active, interesting and relevant Twitter stream where you actively engage with others, and you have a smart “visibility” strategy that will bring you traffic, and potential clients.

(5) Blogging is a reminder and source of inspiration… TO YOU.

Copywriting involves using many skills, techniques and pieces of knowledge, and blogging about them on a regular basis serves as a reminder to YOU, as well as being helpful to others.

That was precisely the inspiration behind my last post on the topic of the puppy dog close. I wanted to test the technique again (it had been a while since I used it), and decided to write a blog post both to remind myself, and also to share the technique with you.

Whenever you learn something new and profound, if you write about it, you’ll find it sinks in even deeper – and you might be surprised at other ideas you generate from the original core idea.

(6) Blogging gets you clients.

If you treat your blog as a brand, and have a blog that brings in traffic, demonstrates your authority and expertise, and that pre-sells the things your clients need and want, then you have a great vehicle for getting you new clients.

So keep on blogging… or if your blog is currently gathering dust… kick it into action again, and turn it into your very own Client Capture Machine!

Blog Branding – 3 Reasons To Brand Your Blog

The famous logo of Apple, Inc

The famous logo of Apple, Inc

I’m sure you’re familiar with branding if you’ve heard of companies like Coca-Cola, Nike or Apple. But is branding just for the big boys? Or can we humble bloggers, writers and copywriters use branding as well?

Here’s three reasons why I think not only can we use branding, we MUST use it if we want a piece of the action:

(1) Branding makes you easy to find.

Many of the top bloggers are already using branding, to get themselves more subscribers, traffic and clients.

For example, think of some of the better known blogs: Copyblogger, Problogger, Lifehacker, Shoemoney.

What do they all have in common? A brand that is easy to remember, and therefore easy to find. For instance, if you hear someone talk about Problogger, all you do is type problogger.com into your browser, and you’re done!

However, if you happen to be blogging from john1862.blogger.com, it’s highly unlikely anyone’s going to remember this web address. So it certainly helps if you have a brand name that matches up with an easy to find domain name.

(2) Branding makes you memorable.

This is one of the reasons companies relentlessly repeat those messages and annoying jingles on TV. They’re not always trying to directly sell you the product. They’re doing it so that, when you next go into the store, their brand is the first thing that pops into your mind.

Now, you might not have the luxury of that kind of media exposure, but by having a memorable brand, you can “stick” inside the mind of your potential clients.

For instance, if you were looking for blogging tips, what’s the first site that pops into your mind? For me, it’s Problogger. Quite apart from the good content, the name Problogger is easy to remember. It’s memorable.

(3) You can create and reinforce your brand’s image.

Ultimately, what makes a brand is the product or service behind it. As I like to say: Without the Mac or the iPod, Apple is just a fruit! (Click here to retweet this on Twitter.)

So make sure that every time you mention your brand, what you have to say is consistent with the image you want your brand to project.

For example, I enjoy commenting on other people’s blogs. When I do so, I always use “Paul, copySnips.com” where possible, because that reinforces my “copysnips” brand; and I aim to provide useful, insightful comments. (Admittedly, I don’t always achieve this, because sometimes my mind just goes blank.)

So even though you don’t have the marketing budget of Coca-Cola, you can still use the power of branding to make your blog and business more memorable, easier to find and to create and reinforce the image you want to convey.

In tomorrow’s post I’m going to share with you a simple, easy and effective technique for increasing your sales (or your clients sales) that I’m going to be testing – so make sure you’re subscribed to this blog and don’t miss out. If you enjoyed this post, click here to retweet it to your Twitter followers.