Ever clicked on an article headline in search results, only to find a drastically different title on the article page itself? Ever wondered how the heck content writers get away with such bombastic, click-thirsty headlines on Facebook, when it so clearly flies in the face of SEO best practices? (THEY DIDN’T EVEN INCLUDE THE KEYWORD!!)
This stuff is everywhere, and I’m going to make the argument that it’s actually very, very smart.
But, you ask, why on earth would intelligent marketers throw away SEO value in the name of fickle, low-quality, low-attention-span visitors from social?
Custom Headlines & Titles Are Everything
The nice thing about the internet these days is that, as a general rule, if you think the functionality exists, it probably does.
This is very much the case for post titles. Though you still need a third party plugin in WordPress to do it right, it’s now (and has been) very easy for content writers to add different titles for different platforms – allowing them to tailor their message separately for Facebook, Google search results, and the page itself.
Why You Should Use Custom Post Titles
As any cross-platform digital marketer knows, each platform tends to have its own voice and language that works best. To put it bluntly, many headlines that earn tons of clicks in Facebook may also look borderline atrocious in a Google search – and SEO-friendly post titles on Facebook may just bore or annoy users who didn’t use the post’s focus keyword to find it in the first place.
For example, here’s what would happen if we left in the on-page article title for our last blog post about Google Posts (shameless plug).
The title might be interesting enough to someone really passionate about new Google features (hey there, fellow nerds!), but it’s a little long for Facebook, and it doesn’t really scream “READ ME!” to the average user. On top of that, the meta description (which turns yellow when you click to edit it – more on that below) is definitely too long, and just looks like I didn’t take the time to tailor the meta for social (which I obviously didn’t).
But I like the article title on the page, so I’m going to leave it in there, and use a different title on Facebook. See below:
Punchy, click-baity headlines are all the rage on social these days, and whatever you think of that, if you’re in this industry you know that it doesn’t really matter so long as it brings qualified visitors.
Note also the short entry in the meta field – not even really describing the post, but attempting to elicit interest. This is another increasingly common practice on Facebook, where it seems that shorter, cleaner post descriptions tend to perform best and increase curiosity among readers.
And just to drive the point all the way into the ground, here’s how awkward this post might look if we left in a strictly SEO-targeted headline on Facebook, even though that headline clearly matches a specific search query and user intent (both good things from an SEO perspective):
Maybe not completely terrible – again, if you’re really into new Google stuff, you might click out of curiosity – but definitely still a little too specific and easy to scroll by for social.
So, in our opinion it’s well worth taking the time to write a custom headline for each. It only takes a few minutes at most, and it can be a lot of fun to experiment with different voices and see which works best. Plus it allows you to get the most out of each platform, getting sneaky with your keyword targeting from an SEO perspective while separately eliciting some serious click thirst from users on social.
How To Add Custom Post Titles For Facebook And Google Search
In WordPress, the Yoast SEO plugin makes it very easy to add different headlines for the post headline, Facebook, and the headline that appears in search results. Simply start with the “SEO title” section, and then click to the social (Facebook) tab and write a custom headline there.
If you’re not on WordPress, you can edit the title and meta description within Facebook’s posting interface itself – but be sure you get it right the first time, because you can’t change it once it’s live.
Check it out:
Is it worth it? Let me work it.
We think this trick is pretty powerful, but we want to hear what you have to say about it. Have you seen a difference in post performance with different titles? If not – or if so – let us know in the comments below. Looking forward to a raging debate on this one!