There is a definite art form to writing blog posts that can give you both the short-term gain of being shareable on Social Media sites, and the long-term gain of ranking well with search engines. Mainly, because you’re trying to reach two different audiences at the same time. Content that’s shared on Social Media sites typically has a lifespan of a few minutes at best as it is quickly replaced on the person’s timeline/stream with additional items. But with search engines, content is cataloged and then retrieved later when a relevant search is made.
So let’s think about the differences in those audiences, and how we reach each:
1 – Social Media sites – Blog post title needs to be catchy and attention-grabbing. An interesting photo that grabs attention also helps for content shared on Facebook and Plus. But the idea is, how can you grab the person’s attention for even a few seconds so you can convince them to click your link?
2 – Search Engine – Here, we need to write content that’s consistent with the search query. You can already see a potential conflict with writing for Social Media sites in that we need that catchy, attention-grabbing title and blog post, but both also have to be CONSISTENT with the content of the blog post. IOW, if we have a cute and sparkly title, but the blog post is crap/inconsistent with blog post title, it not only won’t be Liked, RTed and +1ed, it won’t rank well in search results either.
So we need to write a blog post that has both a catchy title that immediately grabs your attention PLUS one that will include content consistent with the blog post title that will also rank well in search engines. Whew, glad we didn’t make it tough on ourselves 😉
Let’s tackle the blog post title first. As I’ve blogged about before, when writing blog post titles the cardinal sin you can make is to simply summarize the post. I think a lot of bloggers do that because they view the blog post title as an almost ‘throwaway’ item. But the reality is, if your blog post title stinks, it kills the chance that anyone will click to read the post.
For example, let’s say you wanted to write a post about a recent study you had done on what type of tweets get retweeted on Twitter. Let’s also say your research determined that there were 5 specific ways to increase the number of RTs you get.
So if we wanted to write a blog post title that simply summarized the blog post, we might go with ‘How to Get More Retweets’. Because that’s a summary in the post in just a few words.
But Dan Zarrella actually did the study. Look at the blog post title he chose: [Infographic]: 5 Scientifically Proven Ways to Get More ReTweets. Isn’t that a great title? Here’s what I like about the title:
1 – It makes a specific claim that the blog post backs up. Dan’s research found 5 specific ways to get RTs, so that’s in the title. Instantly makes it clickable.
2 – It solves a problem. Want to know how to get more RTs? Here’s 5 proven ways to do so. This makes the blog post not only more clickable on social media sites, but also it helps with search engine results. Now the one caveat to this approach is that by including an infographic, Dan isn’t including many words in the post, so that might hurt its ability to rank in search results versus a blog post someone else writes on how to get more retweets.
3 – It has the shiny word INFOGRAPHIC in the title! This doesn’t really help with search engines, but does make the blog post do better when shared on social media sites.
Now I had to do a bit of revising to the title for this post. Originally, I was going to go with ‘How to Write Posts That Google and Twitter Will Love’. That’s ok, but then I realized that it wasn’t specific enough, and it was leaning a bit toward simply summarizing. So I changed it to ‘How to Write BETTER BLOG Posts That Google and Twitter Will Love’.
Why the change? Think about it, what are most people more likely to search for ‘how do I write better blog posts’ or ‘how do I write posts’? So by adding ‘better’ and ‘blog’ to posts, I make the title more descriptive, and more search-friendly.
But I also need to make sure that the content of the post actually backs up the title, plus it helps if the same terms in the title, are in the post. Note how many times the phrase ‘blog post’ is in this post? Several times, and especially near the beginning of this blog post (see there it is again!). That’s a cue to Google that the content of the blog post is consistent with the title.
So if you are wanting to optimize your blog posts for both search engines and social media, keep these tips in mind:
1 – Pick a catchy blog post title that’s also relevant to the blog post. You want something that immediately grabs the attention of the reader because on social media sites, you’ll probably only have a few seconds to grab the reader’s attention before they move onto the next tweet.
2 – Focus on relevant keywords and phrases in the blog post title as well as the blog post itself. Note that the term ‘blog post’ is in the title as well as the post, several times. That’s a keyword phrase that I am focusing on because I want this blog post to rank well when someone searches for this term.
3 – Putting ‘Twitter’ in your blog post title gets you more retweets. Dan proved this in his blog post linked above 😉
UPDATE: To prove the point that Social Media traffic (especially Twitter) can be fleeting, 20 mins ago Dan Zarrella RTed this post, and within 5 minutes there were 60 people online here, according to Google Analytics. That’s a record for this blog. 15 mins later, that number had fallen all the way to 8.
Traffic from Twitter is fleeting, if you are only optimizing your posts to grab traffic from Twitter, you can get a short-term bang, but you might miss the long-term views. It’s best to optimize for both Search and Social.
NOTHER UPDATE: I just did a Google search for the exact phrase ‘How to Write Better Blog Posts’. This post was published about 5 hours ago, and already it’s the #3 result on the internet for this term, out of over 50,000. Not too shabby and with Dan’s RTing example above shows that this post is doing well for both Search and Social.