Crafting compelling headlines is crucial for driving traffic and engagement to your news stories. Every article needs multiple optimized headlines for different contexts. Follow these SEO pro tips to hook readers and rank higher in search. For every published news article, SEO and Editorial teams must optimize the main Headline and Meta Title (some call it the SEO title). In addition to these tweo common headlines, we will discuss 5 different types if headlines each article should have in the CMS and should be optimized for maximum traffic and engagement.
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Check our Master News SEO Series
- Google News Surfaces: Terminology, Impact on Traffic and More
- A Step-by-Step News Article Template with SEO Best Practices
- Google News SEO - Everything Publishers Need to Know 2023 Edition
- Guard Your SEO: Are News Syndication Partners Hijacking Your Traffic?
- Ultimate News SEO Checklist: How to Optimize Your News Articles Before Publishing
- Top 5 News Headlines Every Article Should Have and Optimize
- more to come ...
HTML Meta Title (SEO Title)
Your HTML title tag is critical for search engine optimization. Keep it concise at 60-65 characters. Put target keywords and names at the beginning. Use quotes or brand names at the end. Optimize for search intent with clear, descriptive language.
- Where is the HTML Title placed? in HTML <head> section <title> tag
- Where does the HTML Title appear in Google Surfaces? It appears mainly in Google Top Stories and Organic Results.
- What is the HTML Title Recommended Length? While there is no hard written rule, we recommend aiming for headlines of 60-65 characters (or 512 px)
Best SEO Tips to optimize HTML Meta Title:
- Compose clear, descriptive, and unambiguous headlines to appeal to readers scanning search results.
- Ensure your primary keywords/entities are placed at the start or as early as possible in the title. Place quotes and brands towards the end.
- Use 2-part title optimization: The first part of the title is what drives rankings, while the second part is what drives clicks. Boring descriptive titles may rank but don't drive clicks and quickly lose rankings in top stories due to low CTRs. Creative headlines don't rank. Aim for optimized rankings (SEO Keywords) and clicks (Engaged).
- Use passive voice when required (e.g., "[Celebrity Name] was bitten by a dog").
- Include entities (like full names, organizations, events, locations) coupled with keyword qualifiers whenever you can.
- Avoid abbreviating crucial terms unless they are commonly recognized.
- Prefer digits over text (e.g., "9" instead of "Nine").
- Use terms people are actually searching for and avoid uncommon language (e.g., prefer "Pope John Paul Dies" over "Papacy Change").
- For annual events, the year should follow the event name (like "Oscars 2023").
- Steer clear of generic franchise headlines like "Things to Know this Morning".
Article Display Headline
The visible headline appears on the top of the news article page. It should closely match your SEO title. While you can get creative, include main keywords too. Many publishers separate SEO and editorial headlines. But optimizing the H1 is still important.
- Where is the Article Headline placed? in the <h1> tag in article. It is displayed on the article page.
- Where does the Article Headline appear in Google Surfaces? It appears mainly in Google News.
- What is the Article Headline Recommended Length? Google News Guidelines recommends anywhere from 3-21 words. We believe 5-12 words is optimal. Google News rejects articles with 2 or less words or more than 21 words.
Best SEO Tips to optimize Article Headline Title:
- Should always be the only H1 on the page
- Same optimization as SEO Title when possible
- It should closely align with the SEO title. Google News still recommends that since it had hard time figuring out which headline to display. The Meta Title remains the most important.
- While it can be creative, it must include main keywords. Many publishers have their editorial headlines in H1, and optimize Title for SEO. While it is a good step, H1 Headline should also be optimized.
- Avoid dates or date references in headlines (last Summer, past March, etc.) as this may confuse Google News thinking it is an old article and it may reject it.
- Don't include questions for the same previous reason.
Structured Data (Schema) Headline
The schema.org 'headline' value in JSON-LD mainly impacts Google Top Stories. Use your SEO title here for consistency.
- Where is the Structured Data (Schema) Headline placed? in the NewsArticle Schema (JSON-LD)
- Where does the Structured Data (Schema) Headline appear in Google Surfaces? It appears mainly in Google Top Stories.
- What is the Structured Data (Schema) Headline Recommended Length? Same as HTML title
Best SEO Tips to optimize Structured Data (Schema) Headline :
- Should be the SEO title
- while it is not required, it is strongly recommended to have NewsArticle JSON-LD and the headline attribute.
Promo (Section/Internal Link) Headline
Use a separate promo headline for homepages, sections and internal links. Optimize this fully for engagement and clicks back to your content.
- Where is the Promo Headline placed? It should be an CMS field. it should be placed on Site Homepage, Section, Category, Channel Pages. In other words in other pages linking back to the article. It is main goal is to drive clicks back to the article so it should be highly optimized for CTR.
- Where does the Promo Headline appear in Google Surfaces? It doesn't appear in Google but considered for internal links anchor text of the article.
- What is the Promo Headline Recommended Length? It should be concise and clicky
Best SEO Tips to optimize Promo Headline :
- Must be Engaging headlines that drives clicks back to the article
- Highly optimized for clicks
- Must include at least the primary SEO keyword as it is the primary anchor text across the site
- A/B test different versions to see what resonates
Open Graph Title (og:title)
The Open Graph meta title appears on social media and Discover. Write compelling hooks optimized for virality.
- Where is the Open Graph Title placed? It should be an CMS field. If it is not a separate field, you may want to use headline, html title or promo headline.
- Where does the Open Graph Title appear in Google Surfaces? It appears in Google Discover and Social platforms.
- What is the Open Graph Title Recommended Length? no recommended length
Best SEO Tips to optimize Open Graph Title :
- Must be Engaging headlines
- Highly optimized for clicks
- Optimize your OG:Title for social media and Google Discover.
- Similar to the Promo Headline
- Hook readers with odd numbers, superlatives, or provocative questions
- Leverage urgency, controversy, humor, or curiosity to entice clicks