A headline tactic for optimal reach on social media and Google search

Simply creating a post and hitting publish won’t do you much good. It’s got to get in front of lots of eyeballs. Here’s a way to satisfy inquiring minds and inveterate sharers.

There is no value in simply publishing content; there is value only in content that moves. It has to be seen and shared to deliver economic value to your business.

So says Mark Schaefer in his book “The Content Codehttp://ir-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=schaemarkesol-20&l=am2&o=1&a=0692372334.”

Schaefer offers hundreds of great ideas, including terrific advice on the importance of headlines.

One quandary I’ve been struggling with is crafting a headline that:

  • Gets a high click-through rate on social media and in Google search results
  • Sums up the topic of the post
  • Makes a promise that your post delivers on

Writing a headline that accomplishes all those things is difficult. Some experts recommend spending at least as much time on your headline as you do crafting the post.

RELATED: Master your visual communications prowess at the National Geographic Museum.

When it comes to headlines, though, social media and SEO are not best friends. SEO-driven headlines often come across as boring on social media, because they are too descriptive or too sober. On the other hand, “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

The way people discover content on social media differs from the way they do so through search engines.

  • On social media, people are not looking for anything in particular. They want to be entertained by the people, brands, magazines, publishers, etc. that they follow.
  • When people seek out information via search engines, they want an answer 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.

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.”

Though 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 media denizens as well.

Let me show you a simple trick I used to ignite this particular piece of content for both search engines and social media.

Headlines that work on search and social media

I use WordPress and 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 tactic is to craft two distinct headlines and descriptions that use different triggers: one headline/description for search engines and one for social networks.

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

SEO headline and description:

Social media headline and description:

If you customize metadata for search engines and for social media separately, use different triggers so you won’t have to choose between searchable and sexy. You can have both.

Maël Roth is a content marketing consultant. A version of this article first appeared on the {grow} blog.


Ragan.com Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive the latest articles from Ragan.com directly in your inbox.