How To Write Awesome Title Tags For SEO 💎

If you’re wondering how to write awesome title tags for SEO then this article should help to answer this question.

I use the same strategy for other articles that appear on this website and for posts I’ve published elsewhere.

My goal is to not just write something that a human would appreciate but also to conduct some basic research in an effort to find a long-tail keyword (LTK) that will also appeal to search engines, the Google Search Engine, in particular, being my primary concern and to include that keyword combination in the title.

I use various ChatGPT prompts when engineering the post title and we’ll cover this too.

This article started as an update on LinkedIn where I put together a few ideas regarding how we can engineer the best SEO titles for the purposes of appealing to both the human reader as well as to search engines.

There are seven steps we need to follow and the first involves doing a bit of research about article titles.

Step One: Review Several Articles On The Best SEO Headlines

Below I’ve included several articles that can help develop a better understanding of strategies and tactics you can use to develop an awesome blog post title.

Quoting from the article entitled 13 Types of Blog Headlines That’ll Get You More Traffic [+ Examples]:

You might not realize it, but your headline could be the reason you’re losing traffic. In fact, on average, only 20% of those who read your headline will click through to read your article. That means good headlines lose 80% of your audience.

Great headlines, though, can make a dramatic impact in the opposite direction. You can increase the traffic to your articles by as much as 500%, based solely on the headline.

Below I’ve included several of the best SEO headlines by type 🤖:

How-to titles

“How to Make the Perfect Cup of Coffee”

How-to titles are actually quite important and can be helpful as backlink magnets.

List-based titles (list posts / listicles)

“10 Reasons Why Yoga is Good for Your Health”

List-based articles, also known as list posts or listicles, can perform very well because they’re generally easy to scan and read.

List posts are also easy to post on social media platforms so when reusing content, the title in this case can have an importance that extends well beyond the article.

Question-based titles

“What are the Benefits of Meditation?”

According to the article entitled Google Search Statistics (dated 2020): “…14.6% of all Google searches come in the form of a question.” so when developing a question-based title, it will likely benefit the writer to use the exact question people are searching for as their article title.

Opinion-based titles

“Why I Think Veganism is the Future of Food”

Benefit-driven titles

“The Benefits of Going for a Morning Run”

Power words

“Discover the Secrets to a Better Life”

Time-sensitive titles

“Why Now is the Time to Start Investing in Real Estate”

Controversial titles

“Why I Disagree with Popular Parenting Techniques”

Personal experience titles

“My Journey to Becoming a Better Writer”

Numbers-based titles

“5 Simple Ways to Improve Your Productivity.” 🤖

See also the Backlinko link bait article and any other articles on this specific subject. I’ve included some tweets to threads about this subject on the right side of this page.

See the sections entitled “Capitalize Properly” and “Does Capitalization Affect SEO Rankings?” in the article entitled How To Write Great SEO Titles. According to this article we should prefer to use title or sentence case and that while this doesn’t matter to SEO, per se, how we choose to capitalize can impact the reader.

Step Two: Determine The Search Intent

Search intent, or user intent / audience intent, refers to the reason behind a user’s search query. When it comes to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), understanding search intent is important because it helps to optimize content in order to meet the user’s needs and provide relevant search results. There are four main types of search intent: informational, navigational, transactional, and commercial investigation. We’ll briefly cover each of these below — for more information see the Yoast article entitled “What is search intent and why is it important for SEO?“.

  • Informational Search Intent: People looking for specific information.
  • Navigational Search Intent: People looking to visit a specific website.
  • Transactional Search Intent: People looking to buy something now.
  • Commercial Search Intent: People looking to buy something in the future.

When it comes to optimizing content, this includes the title too. In step three we’ll perform some basic keyword research and knowing what the search intent is should help to narrow down an appropriate long-tail keyword with a search intent that matches what the user is looking for.

Step Three: Locate a Long-Tail Keyword for SEO Purposes

For step three we’ll use the SEMrush Keyword Magic Tool to find a long-tail keyword (LTK) combination. Ideally, the long tail keyword should be both high volume and low competition [4] — if we end up ranking for this keyword combination we may end up getting a decent amount of traffic to the post — especially if we end up in the top three positions in the search engine results page (SERP). If you have a long-tail keyword already in mind, then make sure this is included in the headline. This may require some creativity especially if the long tail keyword uses many characters.

Below we can see a long-tail keyword that has both decent volume as well as a SEMrush keyword difficulty score of 19% along with a green bubble, which indicates that it may be easy to rank for this.

SEMrush Keyword Magic Tool metrics for the long-tail keyword combination Top 100 Best Headlines with pointers to the volume of 4400 per month (decent), trend (possibly temporary), and SEMrush keyword difficulty percent (KD%, which should be easy to rank for) at 19%.
SEMrush Keyword Difficulty metrics for the long-tail keyword combination "Top 100 Best Headlines".

What is a Common Benefit to Long-Tail Keywords?

Targeting long-tail keywords is an important search engine optimization (SEO) strategy and involves finding keyword combinations that are focused, less competitive, and which should drive high-conversion traffic to a website.

By high-conversion traffic, we mean visitors who end up converting into customers, especially when the search query includes an intent to buy something. Quoting from the Search Engine Land article entitled Back to basics: What does ‘long-tail’ keyword really mean?:

If a particular niche has a total search volume of 100,000 and is accompanied by 1,000 keyword opportunities, then by this logic, an estimated 20 to 30 percent of them will be short-tail keywords, while long-tail keywords will account for the remaining 70 to 80 percent.

and the following quote from the AIOSEO article entitled How to Find Long Tail Keywords and Increase Organic Traffic drives this point home:

…long tail keywords make up for 70% of search traffic. So if you want to get more organic traffic and improve your SEO rankings, you should definitely use long tail keywords in your content.

Table of Contents

Title Tags Insights from Ahrefs

A few interesting insights about titles / title tags are quoted from the Ahrefs tweet below (original source on Twitter):

4) According to our title tags study, 7.4% of top-ranking pages don’t have a title tag

5) Google rewrites title tags 33.4% of the time.

6) Google is now 33% more likely to rewrite title tags.

7) When Google ignores the title tag, it uses the H1 tag 50.76% of the time instead.

8) Google is 57% more likely to rewrite title tags that are too long.

See the tweet below for the full thread which includes other interesting insights.

In this example, we’re relying on SEMrush Keyword Magic Tool to help us find this keyword combination — we’re going to perform some research and our findings will be based on evidence that suggests that we may be able to rank for the given keyword combination along with the monthly search volume for that query.

SEMrush Keyword Magic Tool metrics for the long-tail keyword combination Top 100 Best Headlines with pointers to the volume of 4400 per month (decent), trend (possibly temporary), and SEMrush keyword difficulty percent (KD%, which should be easy to rank for) at 19%.
SEMrush Keyword Difficulty metrics for the long-tail keyword combination "Top 100 Best Headlines".

Prior to finding this long tail keyword combination I investigated other obvious choices and in most cases the volume was substantially lower and the keyword difficulty score was actually much higher which means that ranking for those combinations may be much harder.

Why you should target zero search volume keywords

It’s important to keep in mind that tools like the SEMrush Keyword Magic Tool are often estimating search volume and, from time to time, we may find a keyword that looks attractive and yet have zero search volume.

The Tweet on the right by @NicheCampus mentions this explicitly and this is not the first time I’ve encountered a suggestion similar to the following:

Some of my BEST and BIGGEST volume keywords came from digging around for “zero competitive keywords” which had “zero search volume” (from tools etc)

Not only are these free and easy to win Google’s #1 spot, they often have much more traffic than people expect.

I can speak with experience regarding this suggestion as I’ve used zero search volume keywords for various posts and was pleasantly surprised when the actual search volume was higher than I ever anticipated.

Step Four: Use ChatGPT To Research and Write the Title

In this step, we use a ChatGPT prompt to help us write the title. ChatGPT can be incredibly useful for research purposes and that includes developing a title for a blog post. In this example, we ask ChatGPT to create a blog post title that is no longer than 55 characters and also uses the long-tail keyword we discovered in the previous step. We can ask ChatGPT to give us several variations and in a few seconds we can review many choices and either use one, take ideas from them, or use one and improve it such that it works with our post. This can be a significant time-saver and a strategy that I’m using with some frequency.

Note that if we can generate one blog post title, we can just as easily generate ten, 50, or 100. The result can be useful in that we can use the title exactly as generated if it’s appropriate, or we can take something which is close and improve it.

ChatGPT prompt requesting "Write a blog post title no longer than 55 characters and include the keywords 'top 100 best headlines'." and the response "Discover the Ultimate List of Top 100 Best Headlines".
ChatGPT Post Title Research: Discover The Ultimate List Of Top 100 Best Headlines.
Using ChatGPT to generate ten blog post titles including "Top 100 Best Headlines" and no more than 55 characters long
Write ten blog post title variations that include the quote "Top 100 Best Headlines" and are each less than or equal to 55 characters in length; note that each variation should include the quote exactly as written.

Step Five: Use The MonsterInsights Headline Analyzer To Develop An Award-Winning Headline

Step five requires that we use a tool such as the MonsterInsights Headline Analyzer (MIHA) to engineer a solid headline that incorporates the long-tail keyword combination found previously. ChatGPT may also give us a great title that requires no adjustment however if the score is not satisfactory we may want to rewrite the title in an effort to improve the score.

What is The MonsterInsights Headline Analyzer?

The MonsterInsights Headline Analyzer is a web application designed to assist users craft compelling and engaging headlines for their content. By analyzing the quality and effectiveness of headlines, the MonsterInsights Headline Analyzer provides insights that can improve the overall impact of articles, blog posts, or marketing materials. The MonsterInsights Headline Analyzer evaluates factors such as word choice, length, emotional appeal, and headline type to gauge the headline’s potential effectiveness. Users can optimize their headlines to captivate readers, increase click-through rates, and ultimately enhance their content’s performance and visibility.

The MonsterInsights Headline Analyzer suggests that you should strive for a score of 70% and above — we can set this bar higher and aim for 75% as the minimum score. It may not be easy or even possible to achieve all of this given the parameters I’ve outlined and we may need to sacrifice something to make it work — in this case, I’m thinking the first to go will be the MonsterInsights Headline Analyzer score goal of 75% or better. In this example, we have text which is 46 characters long and the Monster Insights Headline Analyzer score is 84%, which is very good.

What Is The Best Length Of A Title In SEO?

We should endeavor to keep the length of the headline to no more than 60 characters however note that 55 appears to be the ideal length according to [3].

Develop The Best SEO Headlines possible with the MonsterInsights.com Headline Analyzer: Discover The Ultimate List Of Top 100 Best Headlines With A 90% score.
"Discover The Ultimate List Of Top 100 Best Headlines": scored at 90% via the MonsterInsights.com Headline Analyzer

Do we benefit from placing the long-tail keyword at the beginning of the blog post title? ChatGPT suggests that the answer to this question is “no“; other supporting evidence is unavailable at the moment, and even if it did matter, it would be only one of many ranking factors and likely a negligible one at that.

Step Six: Add a Relevant Emoji To The Title ⛳️

In this step we can, if we choose to, and assuming we have enough space to do so, add an emoji to the title. We need to be careful with this one and just because we can add an emoji to the title it doesn’t mean we should. Also, note that where we place an emoji may be important too — we’ll get to this in a moment. This exact subject has been studied already and below is a quote from the findings in the SEMrush article entitled “SEO Split-Testing Case Study: Should You Add an Emoji to the Title on Recipe Pages?” (August 2021) and to be clear, the variant group, in this case, is the title that contains the emoji:
The lines start to diverge right away in the first week. This means that the traffic to the variant group is performing better than predicted and shows that the test is a success. Ultimately, based on organic sessions, we see an increase in organic traffic of no less than 11.3%.
Where we place the emoji may be important as well. In posts and pages on this site where emojis are included in the title these usually appear at the end of the text. Google can rewrite titles and according to the SearchPilot article entitled “Can emojis in title tags be beneficial for SEO?” (April 2022):
Google was choosing not to include the emoji, and everything before it, leaving us with a shorter title than before the test, while also removing the primary keyword for the page from what was displayed in search results.
— and this is not good, of course.

This site has several pages which utilize emojis in the title however they appear at the end of the text and in several cases Google has decided to remove the emoji however the remainder of the title appears as it’s been written and without any negative consequences.

So my advice, given what’s been experienced above, is simply to make sure that an article title that contains an emoji is appearing correctly in search results once Google has indexed the page — if it does not appear correctly then you may need to move or remove the emoji and resubmit the URL for indexing in the Google Search Console. I personally do not like this approach as we end up being forced to wait for the update to happen and, in my experience, that could take several weeks for the change to appear.

All In One SEO Plugin for WordPress (AIOSEO) demonstrating how to add an emoji to the end of the Does Your Blog Post Have One Of The Top 100 Best Headlines ❓ post title.
Adding an emoji to the end of the "Does your blog post have one of the top 100 best headlines ❓" post title.

When developing the best SEO headlines, the emojis we have available are specified as a unicode standard and tools such as the All In One SEO Pack for WordPress include these emojis as one of the many product features.

Step Seven: Check that the title doesn’t already exist

If the exact title developed is already in use by another website, we should consider rewording the title as we don’t want to fall into direct competition with a page which has been ranked using verbatim the text we’ve developed.

Use ChatGPT To Generate Variations Of Your Best SEO Headlines With Emojis

If we’re not sure which emojis are appropriate for the title, we can use ChatGPT to quickly generate a few variations and then we can pick one. In the example on the right I used the ChatGPT prompt:

Provide me with ten example titles with appropriate emojis added to the end for the WordPress post entitled “Does your blog post have one of the Top 100 Best Headlines” and do not change the post title.

Ten variations with emojis in response to the ChatGPT prompt "Provide me with ten example titles with appropriate emojis added to the end for the WordPress post entitled "Does your blog post have one of the Top 100 Best Headlines" and do not change the post title."
"Does Your Blog Post Have One Of The Top 100 Best Headlines?" ChatGPT Title Variations With Emojis

Note that there’s likely a more concise way to word this ChatGPT prompt however in this case I needed to demonstrate how this works and intend to revisit this in time. We could also prompt ChatGPT to create title variations (see step #4) with the emoji included and possibly kill two birds with one stone.

Emojis In Blog Titles Are Visible On Some Social Media Platforms

Note that blog titles that include emojis will be visible on some social media platforms.

In the example on the right we can see when posting this article, Facebook previews the title and this includes the red question mark graphic.

A simple emoji included in a title may not make much difference but we’re competing for the attention of as many people as possible and we don’t want to miss any opportunities and even tiny ones such as this can be important when the audience is sufficiently large enough.

Warning: Social media platforms, software applications, and websites that support the Open Graph Protocol should use the og:title if the OGP metadata is included on the page — this is important because the page title is not the same as the og:title and they both allow for the inclusion of emojis.

Facebook post demonstrating the blog post title with a pointer to the red question mark emoji.
Facebook post demonstrating the blog post title including the red question mark emoji.

Emojis In Blog Titles Are Visible In Chrome Browser Tabs

I happened upon this by chance today while I was working on the article entitled What Is A ChatGPT Prompt? and I noticed that the emoji also appears in Chrome Browser tabs, as we can see on the right side of this page. This won’t help SEO but it does help to make the tab stand out a bit and if the text has not been truncated and we need to find a specific tab, the presence of the emoji can help direct the user’s eyes to where they need to be. For e-commerce websites this may complete a sale, which means money in your pocket!

This example headline includes an emoji which is visible in a Chrome Browser Tab
The best SEO headlines may include an emoji.

Which software applications, social media platforms, and websites support the Open Graph Protocol?

The Open Graph Protocol is a set of meta tags that can be added to web pages to define how links are previewed on social media sites and below I’ve included several examples of software applications, social media platforms, and websites that support the Open Graph Protocol:

  1. Facebook: Facebook was one of the early adopters of the Open Graph Protocol and currently supports it extensively.
  2. Twitter: Twitter also supports Open Graph Protocol meta tags, although it has its own set of Twitter Card tags that can be used in conjunction with the Open Graph tags.
  3. LinkedIn: LinkedIn supports the Open Graph Protocol, and it is recommended to use it to ensure that links shared on LinkedIn have accurate previews.
  4. Pinterest: Pinterest supports Open Graph Protocol tags to improve the display of shared links.
  5. WhatsApp: WhatsApp supports Open Graph Protocol tags to generate rich link previews when links are shared in chats.
  6. Slack: Slack also supports Open Graph Protocol meta tags to display rich link previews.
  7. WordPress: WordPress, one of the most popular content management systems, has built-in support for Open Graph Protocol meta tags.
  8. Drupal: Drupal, another popular content management system, also has modules that allow for the easy implementation of Open Graph Protocol meta tags.
  9. Shopify: Shopify, an e-commerce platform, allows merchants to add Open Graph Protocol meta tags to product pages to improve social sharing.

These are just a few examples of the many software applications and social media platforms and websites that support the Open Graph Protocol.

In the article entitled “How to Fix the og:image Open Graph Meta Tags are Missing Critical Issue” I explain how to remedy this issue using the All In One SEO Pack Plugin for WordPress.

The Benefits of Emoji Use In Social Media Posts

According to the SocialBee article entitled The Benefits of Emoji Use the result of using emojis on social platforms has benefits:

  • Facebook: 57% more likes, 33% more comments, and 33% more shares
  • Instagram: 50% of all comments and captions contain emojis
  • Twitter: 25.4% more engagement

— these numbers are significant enough that when posting to social media platforms it likely makes sense to include one or more emojis.

Emojis In The Title Do Not Help Or Hurt SEO

According to the Search Engine Journal article entitled “Google Says Emojis Won’t Hurt Or Help SEO” the presence of an emoji won’t hurt or help SEO. But, as we’ve already discussed, there can be a positive return regardless and the presence of one or more emojis in the title can have the potential to improve traffic from search engines as well as social media platforms because people may still see the graphic.

The Top 100 Best Headlines: Article Conclusion

This article was initially published on the 10th of November 2022 and has since then undergone many revisions including new content and adjustments for clarity as well as for SEO. While the title is important and I’ve invested effort at developing a title which would qualify as a good headline for this subject matter (IMO), this article, as of the 08th of May 2023, appears in an average position of 16.5 according to Google Search Console and in the example image below we can see that the article appears in the 13th place.

I suggest reading the section of the right-hand side of this page regarding the top three positional performance in SERPs because, while the title of this post is good, if the article isn’t on the first page of search results, then the click-through rate (CTR) will likely be low and this is reflected here as well.

The goal for now is to get this article such that it appears on the first page SERPs for the primary keyword that’s been targeted and then improve it from there. If we can achieve first page SERPs then the CTR should improve as some percent of the 31.3% of visitors from fourth through tenth positions may start to click-through to this page.

The moral of the story here is that while we can have a fantastic title, both in terms of SEO as well as in terms of what may resonate well with humans, if the article isn’t ranking well, that’s not going to help much.

Top 100 Best Headlines article with a pointer to the 13th Position in Google search engine results page (SERPs) as of 08 May 2023.
Top 100 Best Headlines article in the 13th Position in Google search engine results page (SERPs) as of 08 May 2023.

Did You Know? The Top Three Positions in SERPs Receive ~ 68.7% of search traffic.

That 68.7% of web traffic goes to the top three positions in organic SERPs is important when attempting to architect the best SEO headlines since if we can get our article to appear in the top three positions in organic SERPs, we might end up pulling in a decent amount of traffic to our website and for e-commerce landing pages, this can be especially profitable.

I believe that similar studies have been done in the past and, if I recall correctly, the numbers were also similar — here’s the CTR performance for the first three SERPs positions:

  1. The first position of SERPs wins ~ 39.8% of traffic.
  2. The second position of SERPs wins ~ 18.7% of traffic.
  3. The third position of SERPs wins ~ 10.2% of traffic.

This leaves the remaining 31.3% of traffic for the fourth through tenth positions. With all that said it should be clear that we need our articles to be on the first page of search results otherwise we should not be surprised when they do not perform well.

Source: 2023 comparison of Google organic clickthrough rates (SEO CTR) by ranking position

ThosPFuller

When it comes to Digital Marketing as a/an: Organic SEO Consultant: I can help improve your website traffic, increase search engine rankings, and increase brand visibility; Technical SEO Consultant: I can help improve your website performance, identify and fix errors, improve crawlability, and optimize your website structure and code; WordPress SEO Consultant: I can help improve your WordPress website ranking, improve your WordPress website usability, and optimize your WordPress website content and plugins. I am based in Northern Virginia -- which is in the Washington DC metropolitan area.