SEO expert says make your title POP! (Part 1 of 2)
Published: February 15, 2011
We may as well admit it. Gone are the days when a writer could stick to simple maxims. You remember the drill, right? Compose the article on a specific topic and stick to a requested length. Meanwhile, stack it with the big stuff up top and work your way down in case your words get cut. Those criteria still apply, but there’s more, so much more.
Kay B. Day
SEO is an acronym for the term “search engine optimization. Writers who provide content for websites soon learn a lesson born of technology. SEO will impact how many readers click on your link to see what you have to say, and it’s a critical process for showing up in the top ten links a search engine provides.
When you optimize content for search engines, you improve your content in hopes of getting it to rank higher in search engines for targeted keywords. Those words comprise the main thrust of your article. For instance, obviously “SEO” is a primary keyword for this article. Even the term “keywords” is a key word for what you’re reading.
SEO expert Peter Roesler cuts to the chase. Asked for a tip for a
freelancer who wants to prepare an article with SEO in mind, he said,
“The title is more important than the content with SEO. Make sure your
title is fascinating and it encourages people to open it.” Roesler also
shared what works. “’Top 10 tips’ or ‘Top 10 reasons’—those always
perform well in search and virally. Be creative, have fun and make that
SEO guru Peter Roesler loves his work but said his sons are his "pride and joy," one reason he selected a personal photo rather than a "corporate shot."
That single piece of advice hit home for me. For
years I crafted titles based purely on creative impulses, sometimes even
using terms from oft-quoted poems or songs. I began to notice one
particular newspaper editor who used my content in both the print and
online editions always changed my titles. I did some research and soon
figured out why. The changes were all about the search engines.
background includes extensive experience in marketing, social media and
SEO. He has worked across the nation with small and large corporations
who want to improve their overall Internet standing and brand. He said
he actually enjoys the “continual challenge” SEO presents and he points
out that even experts need to stay up to date about methods and
It seems to me SEO is similar to buzz. One person
mentions a bit of news to someone who’s influential and that person
carries the message forward. People share what inspires them, what makes
them happy or even angry. Roesler said, “SEO is a popularity contest
because the most talked about website or content gets the highest
In some ways this seems unfair to those of us who
carefully craft our words according to traditional standards. But we
want people to read what we write. Consider the sheer numbers a search
engine like Bing or Google confronts—billions of Web pages and vast
numbers of search engine queries, too. Furthermore, we can no longer
assume our audience is strictly English-speaking. Google provides
services in more than 100 languages and users can translate pages from
one language to another.
Many people assume optimization means
inserting keywords in abundance. We writers are notorious for our
enthusiasm. It’s tempting to go overboard trying to use keywords in the
lead, middle and conclusion. But Roesler, owner of Web Marketing Pros,
offers a caution. “Don’t overdo it. One of the biggest mistakes people
make with SEO is that they go keyword crazy and they lose the message in
those keywords. You don’t have to add your keyword over and over to
rank on search engines—don’t even worry about writing the keyword more
than once. Once is more than enough.”
Search engines, in sort of a
convoluted way, appreciate the value of our content. So do our readers.
“Your message,” Roesler said, “is more important than ranking. If you
have an overstuffed keyword page, your visitors won’t spend any am
What’s the good news about SEO for writers? The quality of your content does count and your talent still matters.
• Web Marketing Pros
Peter Roesler's corporate website
Peter Roesler's personal website, including a blog full of useful information
In Part 2, we’ll look at the other tools used in search engine optimization and we’ll explore terms like white hat and black hat. Roesler also offers a generous freebie to Web Savvy readers, so be sure to join us!
Florida journalist Kay B. Day has won awards for poetry, nonfiction and fiction. The author of two books, she has written for
The Christian Science Monitor, United Press International,
The Florida Times-Union and Sky News. To learn more about Kay Day, see www.kayday.com. To read Kay's other Web Savvy columns about writing for the Web, click here.