How to Write Amazing Headlines That Drive More Clicks and Higher Rankings

The headline…it gets overlooked a lot.

But, it’s the first thing that gets noticed about your website. If users are in search, they see that big blue headline first. If they’re actually on your website, it’s the first thing they see at the top of your web page.

Your headline determines whether searchers click through to your website. And if they’ve already made it to your website, it determines if they read to the bottom of your page or not.

Well, not entirely. But, it plays the largest role in whether that happens. Pages on your site with longer engagement time, more click-throughs, and lower bounce rates experience better rankings in search.

So, your page’s headline is quite a powerful thing that shouldn’t be overlooked.

What makes one headline get more clicks than another? Buzzsumo was wondering. So, they did research on 100 million headlines.

And here’s some of the highlights:

  • The 3 Most Popular Phrases for Starting Headlines

These are the three phrases Buzzsumo’s research found for starting headlines:
X reasons why…
X things you…
This is what…

Why do the first two work? List-based posts have always worked well…even before the internet. In the day of magazines, newspapers, and other print content, marketers knew this. People just love knowing how many things they’re going to learn before actually visiting the post.

“This is what…” likely works because it arouses curiosity. That’s usually the leading emotion to market to for consumers.

By the way, the most engaging numbers in headlines are 10, 5, and 15 – in that order.

  • How Many Words Long Should Your Headline Be?

Shorter is better, isn’t it? Not with headlines.

Buzzsumo’s research found headlines that get shared the most have 12-18 words, with about 15 being ideal. They actually fall almost perfectly on a normal curve.

If you’re going to make the topic clear and communicate exceptional value, headlines take more words.

  • All That Said, You Must Research Your Niche

People in any niche respond to certain headlines best. At this point, the web is so saturated with great content and engaging headlines that you can research what works quite easily.

Buzzsumo offers free 14-day trials. With their tool, you can enter in a URL of a top website in your niche and instantly find the articles that get the most shares so you learn what headlines and topics work.

We don’t have any kind of business affiliation with Buzzsumo, so don’t feel like this is an advertisement. It’s simply an extremely useful tool for researching the most popular content in any niche.

A Quick Intro to Google My Business

Google now makes managing your business information, and how it appears in search and on Google Maps, simple with Google My Business (GMB). It actually consolidates a number of tools in one place – for free.

Here’s what you can do, and why you should care:

  1. GMB Helps You Keep Your NAP Information Consistent

Your name, address, and phone number (NAP information) needs to be exactly the same across the web. When Google sees inconsistencies, it doesn’t like that.

Why are you saying you have different locations? This could confuse users, or it could be a sign you’re trying to rank for a location where you don’t physically have an office.

For local businesses, this is helpful in keeping your search rankings high.

  1. GMB Offers a Free Website Builder

You don’t want to use GMB’s tool for building a one-page website unless you absolutely have no budget to do so. The tool is simplistic. You don’t have a lot of control over the design. And the designs honestly aren’t all that great at highlighting your products and services.

However, if you need a free website builder that establishes your first search presence, it does the job. You can build a one-page website. This works well for local SMBs like restaurants. Google’s goal with the tool is to help the 60% of businesses not already on the web establish their web presence.

  1. Google Posts Lets You Write social media Posts

Google Posts now allows you to attach social media posts to your search listing and Google Maps listing. So when people click on your listing, you might show them posts of:

  • Your latest specials
  • Products they can buy
  • Reservations they can make
  • The newsletter they can sign up for

So as you can see, that’s quite handy too.

  1. Drive Traffic to Your Company Website

If you’ve hired a local internet marketing company to advertise your business online, you can use your GMB listing to drive traffic back to your website. Your GMB listing needs to be attractive though, too. You’ll need the afore-mentioned posts, accurate business info, and positive reviews.

All in all, Google My Business makes promoting and managing your online presence much easier and simpler before. You still have to put in hard work to climb up the search rankings, but GMB allows you to be more efficient while doing it.

Google Will Soon Notify Chrome Users of Non-HTTPS Sites

As frustrating as keeping up with Google can sometimes be, or as strange as some of their standards may seem, they’ve done a lot to clean up the web. Today, content-heavy websites with interesting, useful information make it to the top of the search engine rankings (most of the time).

Compare that to the early 2000s, before Google went public, when pretty much anything went on the web. Heck, that even was still the case just 5 years ago.

We’ve talked about Google docking (or boosting) your rankings based on whether you have HTTP secure (HTTPS) before. That’s in place.

What Google’s Got Up Its Sleeve That It’s Now Revealing

Beginning in October, Google will show the words “not secure” in their Chrome browser’s address bar whenever you type data into website that doesn’t use HTTP secure. And they’re right. Not having HTTPS in place means the data you enter is more exposed to cyber criminals. Practically, that means any website which starts with http:// without the “https://.”

And when you browse in “Incognito” mode, the HTTPS warnings will appear on all pages you visit. Google also plans to expand this to all Chrome users eventually.

Why Can Google Force The Issue on This?

Google’s got the power because they have what the market wants. Chrome dominates the browser market. Chrome has more than 50% market share, with the next closest being Apple’s Safari at 15% or so:

As long as the market desires what Google has in Chrome, they’re going to be able to continue to shape the internet. Don’t count on that changing anytime soon, by the way.

Microsoft Edge is trying to compete directly with Chrome by being faster. But as you can (just barely) see, it’s the lowest blue line on the chart there, with around 1.0% of overall market share. And even though you can’t see this well either, that’s gone down slightly from the same time last year.

Fortunately, HTTPS Isn’t A Big Time Or Financial Cost

HTTPS securely encrypts any information going to or from your server (or host). So, the bad guys only get encrypted data if they happen to nab it.

Installing HTTPS takes just a few simple steps:

  1. A hosting service with a dedicated IP address
  2. Buying a HTTPS certificate (usually $50 – $150 per year)
  3. Activating the certificate
  4. Installing the certificate (usually just a few simple steps)
  5. Updating your site to HTTPS

Whew! That’s it. Not really a big deal, is it? Be thankful for that.

HTTPS makes the web a more secure place. So it’s a good thing.

We’ll see what Google comes up with next.

Google Introduces “Verified Customer Reviews”

Have an online store?

You’ll want to include Google’s “Verified Customer Reviews.” They’re a new kind of review exclusively reserved for customers who have actually purchased from you.

With the “Google Reviews,” which you’re probably thinking of, technically anyone can leave one. So, the credibility of those isn’t quite what it could be. Although in most cases, Google Reviews are 100% legit.

How Does It Work?

Pretty simple. You sign up for a free Merchant Center account. After you sign up, your customers get the option to receive an email after they purchase that asks for their feedback.

Then, you can get a badge for your website that displays your rating. In addition, your seller rating appears on Google Shopping and Adwords ads.

It can be quite the credibility booster that leads to more sales.

How Can You Get More Google Reviews?

This feature is cool and easy to implement. What if you have a physical store subject to the standard Google Reviews?

How do you get more of those?

Fortunately, it’s not as hard as you fear. Here’s a few strategies for getting more of those:

  • Have a Method for Following Up with Every Customer

    Collect customer information. Whether you’re a savvy law firm, or if you sell antiques, you can easily get your customer’s email.Once you have it, set a reminder to send your customer a brief (1-2 sentences) email asking them to leave you a review. That email should include a link they can click to leave you a review.

    Doing this makes it easy for your customers. The one thing they have least of is time.

  • Publicly Respond to Any Complaints or Negative Feedback

    You won’t get 5-star reviews every time. When you get anything short of that, respond to what the customer didn’t like publicly.Try to understand what went wrong in their mind. And see what you can do to fix it. When you do, make sure you publicly post what you did. And ask your customer to update their review with how you handled the situation, and how they feel about your company now.

    Not only does this show you errors in your business, but it also builds a lot of trust with potential customers who do read your reviews. And this could earn you many more customers in the future.

  • Offer a Giveaway in Exchange for Reviews

    To keep this honest and ethical, you’re not paying one customer for a good review. Instead, you’re giving away something of value in exchange for any review.Make the item or service given away related to your business so you don’t attract people who could care less about your company.

Reviews are invaluable to your online success. Make sure you get as many as you can. And take each one to heart.

Proximity to Searcher Now the #1 Ranking Factor for Local Search

Moz, a leading thinker on SEO, annually gathers the opinions of dozens of local SEO experts. They compile the data into a report to find out what really works in local SEO each year.

In 2017, experienced SEO consultants ranked “proximity to searcher” the most influential search ranking factor.

That’s ahead of links, citations, on-page SEO…you name it.

So, I guess you need to create a flying warehouse that uses drones for distribution like Amazon’s talked about?

They have a patent for it – true story!

Anyway, you can’t do that now. But until you can, focus on doing good solid local SEO so searchers can find you.

Besides your proximity to the searcher, what else can you do? Here’s a brief list of other factors, according to the survey from Moz:

  • Having a Physical Address in the City Searched

    Google’s relaxed on this one a little, much to the relief of SEOs here in the DFW Metroplex. It makes sense that, if you’re in the city where the searcher executes the search, you come up for the search.At the same time, what if you’re in a different suburb, but physically closer than a similar business who is in the suburb where the search happens?

    Google accounts for this more effectively when searchers search. Ideally though, you have a physical address in the city searched.

  • Link Quality

    Links have always been powerful for your rankings. While they’ve lost some strength over the years, they’re still strong today.And they’ll continue to be strong in the future, even though other factors may gain some potency too.

    Why?

    Links simply vouch for your website’s quality. Get a link from the New York Times, and you look awesome. Earn a link from a porn site, and you don’t look so good.

    The more links you get from other quality sites, the better. Because, Google only figures good sites link to other good sites.

  • Citation Consistency

    A “citation” is a mention of your NAP (name, address, phone number) information. You must be consistent with this…to the letter!If your address is “123 Fake St.,” Google gets annoyed when you so much as say “123 Fake Street” instead.

So, you have to decide on one way to discuss your address on the web, and then use only that information. And if you have a change, go back to all the other websites where it’s mentioned and get them to change it.

Kind of a pain. But the reality of today’s local SEO.

That’s Far From All…

Those are some of the most important local search ranking factors. But it’s not a complete list.

You can actually read them all in Moz’s 2017 Local Search Ranking Factor survey.

Here’s to high rankings in 2017 and beyond!

What Makes Content Attract 1000s of Social Shares?

Buzzsumo’s a cool tool that lets you see how many social shares a piece of content gets. Check it out for Search Engine Journal:

Top posts get 4,500 shares…all the way up to 8,200.

Wow!

How do you get a piece of content shared that much? A little bit of luck’s involved. But you can do it with persistence.

Here’s what to do:

  • First, You Must Have the Right Media Outlet
    You won’t get thousands of shares on your own blog. Sites where this happens have massive, loyal audiences they’ve spent years building. And they typically have at least small teams of professional writers creating content.Pulling the same off at your own SMB blog equates to more than a miracle. So, you have to approach these big-name blogs to get the exposure to a large enough audience.
  • Buzzsumo Reveals The Most Shareable Ideas
    You can’t copy someone else’s idea exactly. But when you use Buzzsumo to see what gets the most shares, you have a general idea of what works well at that website.That may inspire an idea of your own which that website’s audience will like. There’s a little bit of luck from there. You have an idea of how well your topic could do. But you never know how many people will actually share it.
  • Your Idea Must be New, Different, and Maybe a Little Surprising
    With a large enough audience, even a standard idea can get a couple thousand shares, or so. But if you want your content to get shared as much as possible, you have to know the topics a media outlet covers…and have a new and different one of your own. Surprise works quite well.You don’t have to be outrageous or controversial (unless you want to try). But if you have a new angle that you know challenges conventional thinking, that can be a great way to get much more attention.
  • Unique Stories
    Within your content, stories work incredibly well to engage. This could be a personal story. Or, it could be a legend or myth. Or, it could be a story you heard from a friend.Stories engage the human mind. Facts get forgotten. So if you have a great story from your life that you tell friends or clients, and you get a great reaction from it, it makes sense to use that story in your content too (as long as you can tie it to your topic).

Is Writing Highly Shareable content Easy?

No way. A 1000-word post could take 10 or more hours to write…even for a skilled writer.

Top writers make every word count. And they fine-tune until they believe they’ve created the most valuable piece possible.

There’s no guarantees on the number of shares and exposure that result. But, you do get valuable results with consistent effort.