How to Revise Your Titles for Maximum Results

    By Sean Platt of Ghostwriter Dad

    No one has championed the use of killer headlines more than Brian Clark. His advice on what makes for a compelling headline is gospel to many in this latest wave to crash across the copywriting shore. It’s impossible to argue – magnetic headlines invariably lead to more clicks, more conversions, and more clients clamoring for your content.

    But what about when your words have turned to whisper, and your old posts have been left to whither upon the WordPress vine?

    When you first craft a piece of killer content, you want as many eyes on it as possible. Initially, it is a bloggers primary goal to gather as many links and as much traffic as they possibly can. This is the purpose of a killer headline. Bloggers are thirsty for quality content to link to. Finding fabulous material makes them more valuable to their audience, and with the current retweet renaissance, a quality headline can gather clicks like candy on Halloween.

    But once the hurry and flurry of fresh content is finished, and the half-life of your copy is a long way from from reaching the tip of the long tail, the smart blogger can reevaluate their headline to determine if they are truly doing what’s best for their content.

    Readers may love magnetic headlines, but Google doesn’t give a grin or a giggle. Tweaking your old headlines to target search engine traffic might be the smartest thing you can do.

    So how do you do it?

    First, revise your title to increase your click through rates from readers who will find you through a search engine query. If your content is day old bread, it’s time to feed the ducks. You are no longer trying to pique the curiosity of a reader, now you are attempting to answer a question or solve a problem from the searcher. Change your title to both capture the maximum SEO benefit (by first conducting the correct keyword research) and then filling in the meta description to match the tone of your title tag.

    This works especially well if you’re using Thesis. If you’re not yet using Thesis, consider it. It can be designed to dance to any tune and it’s built in SEO is an outstanding encore.

    Next, you will want to change the permalink to match. Google loves a good title tag permalink sandwich.

    Finally, you’ll want to use the redirect plugin for WordPress to ensure any traffic or links heading toward the old permalink are now redirected to the new. If you did your duty with a killer headline the first time around, you have hopefully gathered a few links pointing to the old page – you certainly don’t want to lose them.

    Headlines are essential to success, but it is custom titles that can make the long tail most lucrative.

    Sean Platt and Danny Cooper help small businesses to build their websites and establish an effective online presence.

    About the author

      Sean Platt

      Johnny B. Truant and Sean Platt published 1.5 million words through their company Realm & Sands, and built full-time self-publishing careers from scratch in 2013. In their comprehensive self-publishing guide Write. Publish. Repeat, they tell you everything you need to know about how to do the same. 

    • Wouldn’t it be lovely if they attracted readers and worked marvels with the search engines too? Tough but possible hopefully… with a bit of practice:)

    • Dan Ross says:

      Set this great content free ya’ll! Make it easier to share via adding a “retweet” button via the TweetMeme plugin on WordPress plug-in directory. Install it and then adjust the settings at the bottom and then let your readers pass this along this amazing content ya’ll are creating. Love the blog but, on a relative basis to other blogs, a pain to share with my Twitter followers 🙂 Heck, poll your readers on the subject 🙂

      Keep up the great posts

      Dan
      @BetterBizIdeas

    • Well-crafted post titles have been used for a long time in the off-line world, too, as newspapers tried to entice readers into purchasing and opening up their paper.

      Online, you have to do the same, providing some details within the title, but in a manner that makes searchers want to see additional details about the topic.

    • Eric C says:

      @ Jesse – I think it is a balance, but if the content is good, your readers will keep coming back. If you chase retweets and digg explosions, the flashy headlines work. I guess I just like clarity. I read a post recently that was like, “What you need to know before you hit publish” but it was about article length. It was alarmist, but needlessly so.

    • Jesse says:

      Eric, I think you’ve hit an important point. There’s a balance that needs to be found between generating new traffic and keeping old traffic. Spend too much time on either and you’ll end up selling yourself short. I’m not saying that I know where that balance is, but I’m keenly aware that it exists.

    • Eric C says:

      I loved this post’s title.

      But I think Brian Clark–who gives great advice on other topics–focuses way to much on flashy, killer headlines. “Magnetic” headlines often promise something their content can’t deliver. As I scroll through my RSS feed everyday, too many headlines from too many blogs I read strike me as tabloidy, over the top and misleading. I may click through the first few times, but eventually I’ll trust the website less.

      Simple and clear.

    • Hilary says:

      Hi Sean – your post rang a bell .. I recently titled a post “Picnic on the Coat Hanger Bridge” .. fine – eye catching, but not as useful if I’d used the Bridge’s proper name – Sydney Harbour Bridge .. better change it – I think!

      Interesting .. thanks I’ll bear it in mind – Hilary Melton-Butcher
      Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

    • I’ve been through this myself and admit it was a bit of a hassle, but ultimately worth it. This was a year or two ago – I hope the plugin has gotten a bit easier since then. =)

    • Unless of course that plugin takes care of that. I might of missed that 🙂

    • This is an interesting tactic. My concern would be that if you changed the permalink, you’d kill any of the stumbleupon traffic you were getting.

      Permalink is the permanent address, yeah?

    • Any examples of really good titles for us to see?

      What do you think of our IT Hands blog titles?
      I’d like to hear your feedback
      http://news.ithands.com

    • Thanks for sharing — these are some excellent tips! I’ve never heard of Thesis before, but I’m looking forward to checking it out. Same with the redirect plugin.

    • Jesse says:

      Um, I don’t mean to be picky but I think you meant “wither” instead of “whither”. Whither is an adverb/conjunction where wither is a verb. I’m pretty sure you meant wither.

      Excellent tips though!

    • May I suggest, if you really want killer titles, you follow these best practices for Title tags:

      http://www.seomoz.org/blog/best-practices-for-title-tags

    • Eric Hamm says:

      Very well versed, my friend.

      “But what about when your words have turned to whisper, and your old posts have been left to whither upon the WordPress vine?”

      I can just see the grin on your face as you verbalized that single sentence masterpiece. 🙂

      These are excellent tips, no doubt. A while back I decided to put out some heavy hitting posts and title them purely for search traffic. The initial response was solid, but the continued search traffic has been pretty amazing. So adding the enticing title up front and then making the search switch down the road sounds like the best way to go.

      You mentioned something called ‘Thesis’? Never heard of it… 😉

      Eric


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