How to Write SEO-Friendly (and Other Catchy) Headlines

 In Business Blogging, Writing and Editing

When writing a blog for business, creating a headline that gives the reader a basic summary of what the piece is about is, of course, the primary goal. But a basic summary might miss the forest for the trees in terms of search engine optimization, or SEO.

Effective headlines do both – engage the reader and attract the attention of search engines connecting searchers with articles that match their queries.

For a blog from a local insurance agency discussing how to determine appropriate coverage for an individual homeowner’s policy, the blogger should include terms in the headline that people might use in a search for information about this very topic. Terms such as “homeowner’s policy,” “insurance options” and “individual insurance coverage” might be used. Therefore, to write a search-engine-optimized headline, these specific terms should be incorporated into the headline.

Figuring out best options for individual homeowner’s coverage

If you write any sort of “how to” blog, a good way to optimize your headline is to begin it with the terms people are likely to search for.

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Old School: Good Rules for Writing Any Headline

Writing a headline that tells readers everything they need to know about the story can be the most fun part of writing any story. They give writers the chance to put their incisiveness on display for the world to see by distilling the entire story into a single, descriptive line.

While writing headlines for a medium that is not online isn’t as common anymore, the basic rules of headline writing are always helpful to review.

Writing a Straightforward Headline

When writing a headline, remember to keep it short and simple. Don’t repeat the entire lead. Instead, pare it down. Perhaps you’ve written a story about someone who organized a hurricane-relief drive within his company to benefit hurricane victims in a neighboring town. If the drive to collect hurricane-relief items is the news, then this headline tells the story.

Drive collects two tons of hurricane relief

If the actual delivery of the items that were collected is what needs to be reported, then try this one.

Hurricane relief supplies set for delivery Friday morning

Chewing the Scenery

Dog bites man is fine, but Man bites dog is even better. Sometimes you get to write a story about scenarios, people or places that enable you have some fun writing playful headlines, such as this one.

A profile about the director of a collegiate three-ring circus:

Lord of the Rings: Brinson presides under big top

Fun with Names

Sometimes you get lucky to write about someone whose last name derives from an occupation or profession. There are many, from Baker, Clarke and Dyer to Gardener, Thatcher and Weaver. Names such as these can lend themselves to telling the story, and it can be easy to chew more scenery and veer into the ridiculous. Just be careful not to get too silly.

Perhaps the local high-school basketball star is named Billy Ray Cook.

Billy Ray cooks archrival in heated play-off

Double-deckers: Twice the info

Short and to the point is always the best policy in good headline writing. But if you need a subhead to better explain what’s going on in your story, don’t think of it as accepting defeat. There is nothing wrong with relying on a subhead to complement the head.

Let’s say you’re writing a story about a locally owned gym that is sponsoring a fun run and hosting a health and wellness fair. And to top it off, proceeds from the event will benefit a local children’s charity.

Every bit of this information does not need to be squeezed into a headline, or a head/sub combo. But if you want it, it is there for you.

Headline: Kids fun run to benefit Astoria Park Children’s Home

Subhead: Free health and wellness fair to encourage healthy choices

By using all of these ideas as a guide, you’ll be able to craft incisive, creative and search-engine-optimized headlines that will inform your readers and help your work find its way to the top of search engine queries.

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