Jul 17, 2013

Improving Blog Titles & Meta Descriptions for SEO

I have been blogging for many years and looking back over the weekend, I hung my head in shame.  How in the world could I have called something, ‘Cute DIY Craft’.  How embarrassing.  The post doesn’t even have any comments, which is most likely due to the title. 

Bloggers work hard to create good, innovative content, while taking amazing pictures that tell a story, and then write a title like: “Why I Switched to Cloth.”  Now think about that for a minute.  Did the blogger switch to cloth toilet paper, well that would be kind of gross, but people do!  What about switching to cloth napkins, or cloth wipes, cloth diapers, cloth bags or even cloth pads.  We don’t know, because the title doesn't tell us. What’s worse is that the meta description (the description of the post that displays on a search engine) is also ambiguous and misspelled. 

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To answer the question, this blogger was writing about her story of switching from disposable diapers to cloth diapers. 

Most bloggers write because they have something to share.  The aim is for people to read their work. So, how do people find a blog?  There are three basic ways:

  • Social media
  • Local event/word of mouth
  • Using a search engine

SEO focuses on the third way, searchers using search engines.  When you search for something on Google, three basic elements appear in your search results and weigh on your decision to click on the link: the title, the post description and the URL that is displayed.  Of those three, research shows that 8 out of 10 people will read your title while searching, but only 2 out of 10 will read your description.  The title is absolutely critical.  If you searched for ‘cloth diapers’, which is what the above-mentioned post is all about, this post is unlikely to come up.  Why?  Because the keyword, cloth diaper is nowhere to be found in the post title or in the post description.  How would a search engine know to display it, other than the content of the post?  A better title for the post would be: “Why I Switched from Disposable Diapers to Cloth Diapers".  Look what happens when someone would search ‘cloth diapers’ on Google now:

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Keywords are bold.  The description is compelling.  I bet you actually might want to read this post now!  No rashes, sign me up!  Writing custom descriptions for your blog posts allows you to control what is displayed when your post appears in the search results. Research shows that 20% of people read the description when deciding to click into a post.
 That’s huge!Including an interesting sentence or two that draws the search in will increase your chances of a click. Having important keywords in the post title and description allows me to capture specific search terms.  Here are a few rules on titles and descriptions that I use. 

No Cute Title.  Ever.  Call it was it is.  Be as specific as possible.  For a baked spaghetti recipe don’t give it a title like: “Dinner Tonight: Yummy Baked Spaghetti” No one would ever search for that.  Here is a better title: "Easy Baked Spaghetti Recipe".

Show Value.  I want someone on Google to see my title headline and think, "Oh wow, I WANT to read that." By communicating that your post is valuable you will make people want to read it.  Example: “Sewing Techniques” isn’t a compelling title, but “5 Simple Sewing Techniques that will last a Lifetime” shows value to the reader.

Use Power Words.  This is one of my favorites on my food blog.  ‘Easy’ is a power word.  Words like simple, discover, free, secret and others are good compelling words that make people want to know more. 

Stay away from embellishment characters.  I see bloggers sometimes post things like {Skinny} Chocolate Cake.  That looks cute, but no one would search for itthat, so you will loose some of the value of the word skinny. By using just Skinny Chocolate Cake, you have the full SEO value of those keywords. 

Be compelling in your description.  Summarize your post with compelling keywords.  If I were to ask you what two or three words describe your post, make sure to put them in the description!  Don’t leave them out because those words are key to helping you rank better. 

Over the years SEO has become a passion of mine.  I started my blog not knowing much about SEO and now have learned that it’s so critical to everything I write.  Remember a good title and description won’t make up for lousy blog content, so make sure you don’t focus all your efforts on an excellent title and only have two sentences and no pictures in your post! 


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