A simple hack that doubles your headline power

headline power

By Maël Roth, {grow} Community Member

As we all know by now from Mark Schaefer’s book The Content Code, there is no value in simply publishing content. There is only value in content that moves. It has to be seen and shared to deliver economic value to your business.

So how do we do that?

In his book, Mark has hundreds of great ideas and I have been focusing on some of his advice on the importance of headlines.

One dilemma I’ve been struggling with — and I think I am not the only one — is crafting a headline that accomplishes what a good headline should:

  • A high Click Through Rate on social channels AND in the Google search results
  • Sums up the topic of the post
  • Delivers a promise which you can deliver when someone reads your post

Crafting a headline which accomplishes all of those things is difficult. Some experts recommend spending at least as much time on headlines as you spend crafting the post. I do think that’s a bit exaggerated but if you have the time to spend that amount of time on your headline, it sure is a good thing.

The problem is, when it comes to headlines, social and SEO are not best friends. SEO-driven headlines often come across as boring on social media because they are not emotional enough and too descriptive or too sober. On the other hand, something like “This boy kissed his cat. You won’t believe what happens next…” is not really a search friendly title.

Understanding the new realities of headline power

There is a fundamental disconnect between the way people discover content on the social web and the way they do when they do search engines.

  • On the social web, people are not looking for anything in particular. They want to be entertained by those (people, brands, magazines, publishers, etc.) they follow.
  • When people search for information via search engines, they are looking for answers to a question. They are proactive and they often want that answer to be quick and easy.

When I write posts, I try to optimize most of my posts for these two types of content discovery paths. It is not an easy thing to do.

Let’s take an example: back in June I wrote a post on business strategy frameworks applied to international content marketing. The keyword phrase I wanted to focus on to optimize for search was “international content marketing.”

While it’s an SEO best practice to place these keywords early in the headline, it’s difficult to do that and make it sexy for social as well.

Now let me show you a simple trick I use to ignite this particular piece of content for both search and social.

Headlines that work on search and social

My Content Management System is WordPress and I use the Yoast SEO Plugin for my posts. If you don’t pay attention to SEO, this is an easy application to help you start. Yoast guides you through simple suggestions for SEO improvement on each post.

You can use Metadata in your posts to indicate which elements you want a particular channel to display. The simple but effective hack in this case is to craft two separate headlines and descriptions which use different triggers: one headline and description for search engines and one for social networks.

Here’s how I decided to do it for the aformentioned post:

SEO headline and description:

headline power


Social headline and description:

headline power

If you customize Metadata for search engines and the social graph separately, you can use different triggers so that you won’t have to choose between search and sexy. You can do both!

I hope this small hack has been helpful to you and I look forward to your comments!

mael rothMaël Roth: I’m half-French, half-German content marketing consultant with a German agency, as well as start-upper with Scompler. My self-inflicted mission: master strategic content marketing. My goal: changing the way marketing is done. Progression: working on it. My biggest problem? I’m interested in everything and I want to master it. More about me here

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