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When most people think about creating a high-traffic site, they look for ways to optimize their article. Something that’s easy to forget is that to get that traffic to your site in the first place, someone needs to find and click a link to your post.

While keyword research and competition analysis are extremely important in getting your content found, equally important is getting people to click on the links to your articles once you finally start showing up in the search results.

Getting to page 1 in the search results is half the battle. The other half is working your way up to the top 3 positions and staying there. That’s where writing a great title for your article comes into play.

Why Writing a Great Headline is So Important

The headline of your post is the first impression of your potential visitors. It’s your only chance to hook them in and get them to click your link and give your article a shot at succeeding.

Your headline is the one thing that separates you from your competitors in Google Search results, and the last thing you want is for someone to click one of your competitor’s articles instead of yours.

You might even have the better article, but if your headline is subpar, you simply won’t get the clicks, or at least not as many of them. This not only leads to less clicks for you, but also doesn’t help your post improve its ranking in the search results.

And that’s the other main factor to consider. A great headline that gets more clicks than the competing headlines above it in search results will lead to your article improving its rankings over time. This is one of the biggest benefits of optimizing your posts’ headlines.

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Of course, your visitors also need to be happy with the content on the other side of that click, so make sure your posts match each searcher’s intent so they find exactly what they’re looking for, instead of bouncing immediately and clicking a competitors article.

How to Optimize Your Articles’ Headlines

Make Things Better

Now that you know about the benefits of optimizing your article headlines, I’m going to give you some simple methods for turning a basic keyword into a click-worthy title.

Before I dive in, I just want to point out that you don’t need to worry too much about including the exact keyword in a headline. That used to really matter, but Google has gotten much better at figuring out what an article is about now, so I don’t hesitate to write “5 ways to fly fish…” instead of “how to fly fish…”

Let’s begin.

1 – Use Adjectives

My first tip for writing the perfect headline is to use adjectives. In case you need a refresher, adjectives describe nouns. Thing like “small” car, an “easy” recipe, or the “perfect” headline.

Adding a single adjective to your headline is a dead-simple way to instantly improve the clickthrough rate of your post.

2 – Use Numbers

If your article is a list post, meaning that it contains a list of items or suggestions, make sure to include a number in your title. People gravitate toward numbers, so changing your title from “How to Read in the Dark” to “4 Ways to Read in the Dark” will definitely make your article more likely to get clicked.

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As an added bonus, list posts are perfect for sharing on social media, meaning your posts are more likely to get shared by your visitors.

3 – Opt for Odd Numbers

Believe it or not, people are more likely to click on articles that start with an odd number. It might sound weird, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take advantage of it.

If your have a list post with 12 items, try your best to come up with one more item to bump it up to 13 to get those extra clicks.

4 – Make It a Fact

Fake vs Fact

Another easy way to improve the clickthrough rate of your posts in organic search results is to make your headlines sounds factual. When you add that level of confidence to your titles, people will want to click to see the details.

To make your headlines sound more factual, start them with “This Is How to” or “This Is How I.”

5 – Keep It Short and Simple

Whenever possible, it’s best to keep your headline short and simple, as short headlines are known for having a higher clickthrough rate. However, this can sometimes be difficult to achieve.

If nothing else, keep your titles short when there’s little competition for a keyword. As I explain further down in this post, when there’s not much competition, it often times makes sense to simply use the keyword, or something very close to it, as your title.

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6 – Personalize It

When a title is personalized, it’s easier to relate to for your future visitors. To personalize a title, simple use words like my, I, or your in your titles.

7 – Add Parenthesis

Another simple way to improve the clickthrough rate of your articles is to add parenthesis to the end. By adding something to the end of your headline in parenthesis, you’re providing extra incentive to click.

For example, you say “How to Shave (Without Cutting Yourself),” or “Is it Safe to Go Boating? (Without a Life Vest).”

8 – Add an Exclamation Point

Exclamation Point

If your post title is already a question, you can sometimes attract more eyeballs to it by adding an exclamation point before a question mark. Doing this adds some emphasis to the question, which doesn’t always makes sense, but can work extremely well when it does.

Obviousy, this can be done with titles that aren’t questions as well. Just use your best judgment to decide when it’s a good idea.

9 – Add Emphasis

Exclamation points aren’t the only way to add emphasis to your titles. You can also do this by adding the word “really” as in “Can You Really Eat Puffer Fish?” You can even combine this with an exclamation point and do something like “Can You Eat Puffer Fish? Really!?”

Turning a Keyword into a Headline (Step by Step Example)

I’ve given you plenty of tips on how to optimize your headlines, so now, I’m going to walk you through a couple of real-world examples of turning a simple keyword into a fully optimized headline.

The search term I’m going to be optimizing in these examples is “cake on keto diet.” Please know that I’ve done zero research on this search term specifically, and the searcher intent is probably for keto-friendly cake recipes.

Chocolate Cake

However, I’m going to turn this search term into a couple of question-based keywords, which is what I tend to target the most with my sites.

Example #1

For the first example, we’re going to take the keyword cake on keto diet” and turn it into a “can you” question. This leads us to the first headline for this keyword, which is:

Can You Eat Cake on a Keto Diet?

That’s not too bad of a start, but if this were an actual search term that was targeted by a number of competitors, your title would probably blend in with several other people using the exact same title. To take it a step further, let’s change it to:

Can You Really Eat Cake on a Keto Diet?

By adding the word “really” to the title, you’re headline has become more intriguing to a potential visitor. Immediately, their mind is asking “is it actually possible to eat cake on a keto diet?”

Not bad, but next, let’s improve this title with a simple character:

Can You Really Eat Cake on a Keto Diet!?

That simple character has further emphasized that voice in the reader’s head. A single character has made this headline more likely to be clicked.

Lastly, let’s add something in parenthesis:

Can You Really Eat Cake on a Keto Diet!? (Yes, and This Is How)

Now, we’re getting close. The title above is definitely going to get the attention of someone who sees it in the search results. The only issue left to address is the length.

To shorten this title, let’s modify it slightly to:

Can You Really Eat Cake on Keto!? (Yes, and This Is How)

For a search term as simple as “cake on a keto diet,” this is a great title. As you can see, with only a few simple modifications, you can significantly improve the chances of your post getting clicked on in organic search results.

Example #2

Following Recipe on Tablet

For the second example, I’m going to show you how to take the same search term and approach it in a slightly different manner. For the first title in this example that’s derived from “cake on keto diet,” we’re going to go with:

How to Eat Cake on a Keto Diet

Turning this keyword into a “how to” title basically keeps the search intent the same, but turns it into a question, which we can easily modify into a great title. Next, let’s make it sound factual:

This Is How to Eat Cake on a Keto Diet

By adding “this is” to the beginning of the headline, we’re adding a level of confidence to the title. This gives the impression that your article provides the exact information that the searcher is looking for, which hopefully, it does.

Next, let’s personalize the title:

This Is How I Eat Cake on a Keto Diet

By replacing “to” with “I” in the title, we’re adding a personal touch that people will naturally identify with. This is a super simple modification that will lead to more clicks.

Next, let’s add a number to the title:

10 Ways to Eat Cake on a Keto Diet

People are naturally more inclined to click on titles with numbers, so this is another easy way to improve your clickthrough rate. On top of that, numbered list posts like this naturally attract social shares.

While adding a number is great, making it odd is even better:

11 Ways to Eat Cake on a Keto Diet

As mentioned earlier, simply adding an odd number to your title will lead to more clicks. If you can manage to come up with one extra tip in your article to bump the number of tips up to an odd number, you should definitely do so.

With the next title, we’re going to add a simple adjective:

11 Surprising Ways to Eat Cake on a Keto Diet

Whenever you can manage to add an adjective to your title without making it too long, you should do so. Adding the word “surprising” in this case will help it to stand out in the search results to get those extra clicks.

Next, let’s add some parenthesis:

11 Surprising Ways to Eat Cake on a Keto Diet (Without Sacrificing Taste)

In this example, you’re providing extra incentive to click on your title, without changing the meaning of the article.

Lastly, let’s make the title a bit shorter:

11 Surprising Ways to eat Cake on Keto (Without Sacrificing Taste)

In this last example, we shortened the title a bit by removing a couple of words. This technique will make your article more clickable and more likely to show in full in search results.

Google does have a hard limit on the number of characters that they’ll show in search result titles, but since it has changed over time, I don’t pay too much attention to it. I simply go with the title that I believe is the most optimized and don’t worry about the current or future character limits.

Should You Always Optimize Your Headlines?

Keep It Simple

Although I’ve given you some great ways to optimize your headlines, there are times that it doesn’t necessarily make sense to use any or all of these tips. In fact, I often opt for a less-optimized headline on my sites.

If your strategy is similar to mine, you’re mostly going to be going after low-competition keywords. As a result, you only need to come up with a headline that is more likely to get clicked than the other search results.

With that being said, the perfect headline will be different based on the competition, and you should make it a step in your process to always gauge the competition before posting a new article. If there isn’t any competition, stay close to the root keyword to make sure Google can clearly identify the target keyword.

Although Google is good at figuring out what your posts are about, why make it more difficult for them when you’re not competing against anyone for that search term? I’ve definitely found that our posts with simple, keyword-rich headlines rank more quickly that the fully optimized headlines we often use instead.

To sum up this section, if you don’t have much competition, keep your title short and as close to the keyword as possible. If you’re trying to outrank other posts on the same topic, check out their headlines and come up with one that’s as good or better than your competitors.

Should You Optimize Headings Within Posts?

Now that you know how to optimize your article headlines, you might be wondering whether or not it makes sense to apply these techniques to the headings and subheadings within your articles as well.

While this is debatable, I tend to keep headings and subheadings simple and keyword-rich within the articles themselves. There are a few reasons for this.

  • First, your visitor already found the article, so there’s really no benefit to taking the extra time to come up with a clever headline.
  • Second, you want your articles to be extremely easy to browse so a visitor can find the information that they’re looking for as quickly as possible. Sticking to simple, keyword-rich headlines helps in this regard.
  • Lastly, while Google has gotten much better at figuring out what you’re trying to say, why make it more difficult for them than it needs to be? Using simple titles targeting clear keywords will only make it easier for Google to determine what your article is about.

Final Thoughts

Growth

Whenever you can gain that extra edge over your competitors, you’re putting your niche site in a better position to succeed. Writing a great headline for your posts is just one of those optimizations that is both simple and effective.

Use the tips that I outlined above each time you write an article. By regularly doing so, you’ll improve your organic search rankings and see your traffic grow more quickly and to higher levels.

Now that I’ve shown you how to write the perfect title for your posts, let me know what I could have done better with the title of this article in the comments below.

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    Author

    After spending several years struggling to find a reliable way to make money online, I finally developed a simple system that produces large and consistent results. My small team and I are now generating life-changing income for all of us by building simple niche websites using the basic steps covered on Passive Income Unlocked.

    2 Comments

    1. Great article, and this is something I often struggle with.

      What are your thoughts on changes titles after publishing? I’ve never been sure about whether you can keep the same permalink and/or if changing the title will spoil your Google ranking. So, if you make a bad first choice, can you improve it later?

      • Jeff Reply

        Great question. While I can’t say with 100% certainty what will happen, I tend to leave titles alone as much as possible. There are a couple of exceptions, which are spelling mistakes and numbers. If you have a spelling or grammar mistake, I think you absolutely want to fix that. If you’re just changing a number, like going from 10 Ways to.. to 15 Ways to… after adding content to the posts, I don’t see that negatively affecting your rankings. I think the main point is to leave the keyword in the title and URL alone. However, if a post is ranking poorly or hasn’t had time to rank, I would be okay with reworking the title as a whole.

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