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Writing Headlines that Serve SEO, Social Media, and Website Visitors All Together – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Have your headlines been doing some heavy lifting? If you’ve been using one headline to serve multiple audiences, you’re missing out on some key optimization opportunities. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand gives you a process for writing headlines for SEO, for social media, and for your website visitors — each custom-tailored to its audience and optimized to meet different goals.

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Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re going to chat about writing headlines. One of the big problems that headlines have is that they need to serve multiple audiences. So it’s not just ranking and search engines. Even if it was, the issue is that we need to do well on social media. We need to serve our website visitors well in order to rank in the search engines. So this gets very challenging.

I’ve tried to illustrate this with a Venn diagram here. So you can see, basically…


In the SEO world of headline writing, what I’m trying to do is rank well, earn high click-through rate, because I want a lot of those visitors to the search results to choose my result, not somebody else’s. I want low pogo-sticking. I don’t want anyone clicking the back button and choosing someone else’s result because I didn’t fulfill their needs. I need to earn links, and I’ve got to have engagement.

Social media

On the social media side, it’s pretty different actually. I’m trying to earn amplification, which can often mean the headline tells as much of the story as possible. Even if you don’t read the piece, you amplify it, you retweet it, and you re-share it. I’m looking for clicks, and I’m looking for comments and engagement on the post. I’m not necessarily too worried about that back button and the selection of another item. In fact, time on site might not even be a concern at all.

Website visitors

For website visitors, both of these are channels that drive traffic. But for the site itself, I’m trying to drive right visitors, the ones who are going to be loyal, who are going to come back, hopefully who are going to convert. I want to not confuse anyone. I want to deliver on my promise so that I don’t create a bad brand reputation and detract from people wanting to click on me in the future. For those of you have visited a site like Forbes or maybe even a BuzzFeed and you have an association of, “Oh, man, this is going to be that clickbait stuff. I don’t want to click on their stuff. I’m going to choose somebody else in the results instead of this brand that I remember having a bad experience with.”

Notable conflicts

There are some notable direct conflicts in here.

  1. Keywords for SEO can be really boring on social media sites. When you try and keyword stuff especially or be keyword-heavy, your social performance tends to go terribly.
  2. Creating mystery on social, so essentially not saying what the piece is truly about, but just creating an inkling of what it might be about harms the clarity that you need for search in order to rank well and in order to drive those clicks from a search engine. It also hurts your ability generally to do keyword targeting.
  3. The need for engagement and brand reputation that you’ve got for your website visitors is really going to hurt you if you’re trying to develop those clickbait-style pieces that do so well on social.
  4. In search, ranking for low-relevance keywords is going to drive very unhappy visitors, people who don’t care that just because you happen to rank for this doesn’t necessarily mean that you should, because you didn’t serve the visitor intent with the actual content.

Getting to resolution

So how do we resolve this? Well, it’s not actually a terribly hard process. In 2017 and beyond, what’s nice is that search engines and social and visitors all have enough shared stuff that, most of the time, we can get to a good, happy resolution.

Step one: Determine who your primary audience is, your primary goals, and some prioritization of those channels.

You might say, “Hey, this piece is really targeted at search. If it does well on social, that’s fine, but this is going to be our primary traffic driver.” Or you might say, “This is really for internal website visitors who are browsing around our site. If it happens to drive some traffic from search or social, well that’s fine, but that’s not our intent.”

Step two: For non-conflict elements, optimize for the most demanding channel.

For those non-conflicting elements, so this could be the page title that you use for SEO, it doesn’t always have to perfectly match the headline. If it’s a not-even-close match, that’s a real problem, but an imperfect match can still be okay.

So what’s nice in social is you have things like Twitter cards and the Facebook markup, graph markup. That Open Graph markup means that you can have slightly different content there than what you might be using for your snippet, your meta description in search engines. So you can separate those out or choose to keep those distinct, and that can help you as well.

Step three: Author the straightforward headline first.

I’m going to ask you author the most straightforward version of the headline first.

Step four: Now write the social-friendly/click-likely version without other considerations.

Is to write the opposite of that, the most social-friendly or click-likely/click-worthy version. It doesn’t necessarily have to worry about keywords. It doesn’t have to worry about accuracy or telling the whole story without any of these other considerations.

Step five: Merge 3 & 4, and add in critical keywords.

We’re going to take three and four and just merge them into something that will work for both, that compromises in the right way, compromises based on your primary audience, your primary goals, and then add in the critical keywords that you’re going to need.


I’ve tried to illustrate this a bit with an example. Nest, which Google bought them years ago and then they became part of the Alphabet Corporation that Google evolved into. So Nest is separately owned by Alphabet, Google’s parent company. Nest came out with this new alarm system. In fact, the day we’re filming this Whiteboard Friday, they came out with a new alarm system. So they’re no longer just a provider of thermostats inside of houses. They now have something else.

Step one: So if I’m a tech news site and I’m writing about this, I know that I’m trying to target gadget and news readers. My primary channel is going to be social first, but secondarily search engines. The goal that I’m trying to reach, that’s engagement followed by visits and then hopefully some newsletter sign-ups to my tech site.

Step two: My title and headline in this case probably need to match very closely. So the social callouts, the social cards and the Open Graph, that can be unique from the meta description if need be or from the search snippet if need be.

Step three: I’m going to do step three, author the straightforward headline. That for me is going to be “Nest Has a New Alarm System, Video Doorbell, and Outdoor Camera.” A little boring, probably not going to tremendously well on social, but it probably would do decently well in search.

Step four: My social click-likely version is going to be something more like “Nest is No Longer Just a Thermostat. Their New Security System Will Blow You Away.” That’s not the best headline in the universe, but I’m not a great headline writer. However, you get the idea. This is the click-likely social version, the one that you see the headline and you go, “Ooh, they have a new security system. I wonder what’s involved in that.” You create some mystery. You don’t know that it includes a video doorbell, an outdoor camera, and an alarm. You just hear, “They’ve got a new security system. Well, I better look at it.”

Step five: Then I can try and compromise and say, “Hey, I know that I need to have video doorbell, camera, alarm, and Nest.” Those are my keywords. Those are the important ones. That’s what people are going to be searching for around this announcement, so I’ve got to have them in there. I want to have them close to the front. So “Nest’s New Alarm, Video Doorbell and Camera Are About to Be on Every Home’s Must-Have List.” All right, resolved in there.

So this process of writing headlines to serve these multiple different, sometimes competing priorities is totally possible with nearly everything you’re going to do in SEO and social and for your website visitors. This resolution process is something hopefully you can leverage to get better results.

All right, everyone, we’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

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3 Simple Ways to Make Your Blog Posts More Conversational


This post is by ProBlogger writing expert Ali Luke

You’ve probably heard that your blog posts need to be “conversational”.

You may also have been told why: to create a sense of connection with your reader, keep them engaged, and make your blog sound less like a lecture and more like a discussion.

That’s all true. But making your writing “conversational” can be tricky – especially if you come from a business or academic writing background.

If your blog posts tend to sound a little dry and stilted, here are three simple ways to change things.

#1: Talk Directly to Your Reader

Write your post as if you’re talking a specific reader. Picturing an actual person may help – someone you know in real life, or who comments on your blog. You could even imagine you’re emailing them, or writing a Facebook post or comment.

And use words like “I” and “you”, even though you were probably taught not to at school or work. When you’re blogging it’s totally fine to write from your personal experience, and to invite the reader to step into your post.

Here’s an example from Jim Stewart’s post 9 Tips for Recovering Your Google Rankings After a Site Hack. (I’ve highlighted each use of “you” and “your”.)

If your WordPress site has been hacked, fear not. By following these tips you can fortify your site and kick wannabe hackers to the kerb.

And provided you act quickly, your WordPress site’s SEO traffic—and even its reputation—can recover within 24 hours.

This is clear, direct writing that speaks to the reader’s problem. And it’s easy to read and engage with: it’s almost like having Jim on the phone, talking you through fixing things.

Note: As Jim does here, always try to use the singular “you” rather than the plural “you”. Yes, you hopefully have more than one reader. But each one will experience your blog posts individually. Avoid writing things like “some of you” unless you’re deliberately trying to create a sense of a group environment (perhaps in an ecourse).

#2: Use an Informal Writing Style

All writing exists somewhere on a spectrum from very formal to very informal. Here are some examples:

Very formal: Users are not permitted to distribute, modify, resell, or duplicate any of the materials contained herein.

Formal: Your refund guarantee applies for 30 calendar days from the date of purchase. To request a refund, complete the form below, ensuring you include your customer reference number.

Neutral: Once you’ve signed up for the newsletter list, you’ll get a confirmation email. Open it up, click the link, and you’ll be all set to get the weekly emails.

Informal: Hi Susan, could you send me the link to that ProBlogger thingy you mentioned earlier? Ta!

Very informal: C U 2morrow!!!

With your blogging, it’s generally good to aim for an informal (or at least a neutral) register, as if you were emailing a friend. This makes you seem warm and approachable.

Typically, you’ll be using:

  • Contractions (e.g. “you’ll” for “you will”)
  • Straightforward language (“get” rather than “receive” or “obtain”)
  • Chatty phrases (“you’ll be all set”)
  • Possibly slang, if it fits with your personal style (“thingy”, “ta!”)
  • Short sentences and paragraphs
  • Some “ungrammatical” features where appropriate (e.g. starting a sentence with “And”)

You might want to take a closer look at some of the blogs you read yourself. How do they create a sense of rapport through their language? How could you rewrite part of their post to make it more or less formal? What words or phrases would you change?

#3: Give the Reader Space to Respond

Conversations are two-way, and that means letting your readers have a say too. If you’ve decided to close comments on your blog, you may want to consider opening up a different avenue for readers to get involved, such as a Facebook page or group.

When you’re writing your post, don’t feel you need to have the last word on everything. You don’t have to tie up every loose end. It’s fine to say you’re still thinking about a particular subject, or that you’re still learning. This gives your readers the opportunity to chime in with their own expertise or experiences.

Often, you can simply ask readers to add to your post. For instance, if you’ve written “10 Great Ways to Have More Fun With Your Blogging”, ask readers to contribute their own ideas in the comments. Some people won’t feel confident about commenting unless explicitly invited to do so, ideally with a suggestion of what they could add (e.g. “What would you add to this list?” or “Have you tried any of these ideas?”)

On a slightly selfish note, if you’re not sure about the value of comments, remember it’s not just about your readers getting more out of your blog. Some of my best blog post ideas have come from a reader’s suggestion or question in a comment. And many other comments have prompted me to think in a more nuanced way about a particular topic.

There’s no one “right” way to blog, and some blogs will inevitably be more conversational than others. If you’d like to make your own posts a bit more conversational, though, look for opportunities to:

  • Use “you” and “I”. Talk directly to your reader, and share your own experiences where appropriate.
  • Make your language fairly informal. Don’t worry about everything being “correct” – just let your voice and style shine through.
  • Open up the conversation by inviting readers to comment, or encouraging them to pop over to your Facebook page (or join your Facebook group).

Have you tried making your blog more conversational? Or is it something you’re just getting started with? Either way, leave a comment below to share your experiences and tips.

Christin Hume

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15 Real Estate Marketing Ideas to Win More Clients on Social

The majority of homebuyers go online for their search, but what makes social media and real estate marketing such a pair for agents? According to one study, 94% of millennials and 84% baby boomers used various sites to search for their future home.

To add to it, these homebuyers are definitely using social in their quest to find a new place. The problem our Q1 2017 Sprout Social Index found was that the real estate industry only responded to 11% of its incoming messages. What’s worse is the industry ranked No. 4 in the Top 10 Most Annoying Industries on Social Media in the Q3 2016 Sprout Social Index.

This points signs to an industry set on overly promoting and not enough time on engaging with potential customers. Luckily, there are some simple methods to use social as a driver for engagement and reliability.

Here are 15 ideas you can use to elevate your real estate social marketing efforts:

1. Make Social Sharing Mindlessly Easy

Think about how clients usually find you. It’s likely they start with a search engine and type in some phrase like “real estate agent [city].” If your website accurately depicts your information, you should be easy to locate and have shareable listings.

To make it easier for you and your potential client to share on social, make sure listings have responsive layouts, clear photography and simple share buttons.

The Boutique gives a great example of this in action. The listing not only includes a favorite icon for their clients, but also social network sharing buttons.


2. Add Reviews & Services

Referrals are the best kind of marketing for real estate agents. In your Facebook Page, enable both reviews and services. For ease of communication, make sure clients can book appointments with you or message for questions.

Bower Real Estate does an excellent job at providing information about its services, while leaving an area for client testimonials.


On your website, use client testimonials and information about your services. Do you provide free consultations and can they be booked online? Finding an agent is difficult enough. Make the process for connecting to your client as seamless as possible.

3. Create a Facebook Group & Participate in Local Groups

With the new feature to link Facebook Groups to a Facebook Page, you can offer even more personalized services to clients. Using Facebook Groups is a good way to navigate around the Facebook algorithm. Ideally, clients would be able to post in the Group and help each other through the selling or buying process.

Another option for Facebook Groups is using them as a networking opportunity.

Mid-America Association uses regional Groups to connect professionals in the area and to post helpful advice.


4. Use a Facebook Cover Video

Quickly grab a potential client’s attention with a Facebook video instead of a photo for your Facebook Page cover. A new feature for Facebook Pages, video covers automatically play when someone lands on your Page. It’ll instantly grab any visitor’s attention.

For bonus points, edit your call-to-action button to match the video. For example, if you talk about free consultations, make sure the button says, “Book Now.”

Live Urban Denver uses a video cover for their Page, which quickly tells any new visitor what the company is all about.

5. Go Live at a Property

Using Facebook Live for business lets you provide a behind-the-scenes, unedited look of a property. If you promote it before the listing goes up, it gives your followers a feeling of an inside scoop. These videos are excellent at engaging your audience and are often highly ranked in Facebook feeds.

Incorporating a Q&A like Zac McHardy did is a great way to get potential buyers into the door without even stepping foot on the property.

6. 360 Photo or Video

Facebook has new capabilities for posting 360-degree photos and videos. Wide-angle shots are beautiful, but they still don’t always work for getting a full impact of a room or view.

Using 360-degree videos or photos like below are a good way to change up your post types. Maybe there’s a balcony that has an excellent view or a wide open floor plan that would benefit from a 360-degree photo.

Leave no room for surprises with these great photo and video features.

7. Build a Messenger Chatbot

If you receive a lot of similar messages and questions that could be easily answered, perhaps a Facebook Messenger chatbot could work best for your organization.

You can use Sprout Social to program your bots to answer common questions like:

  • What are the closest listings by this zip code?
  • What are the features of this house?
  • Which listings are in my price range?
  • What do I need to do to prepare my house for sale?

Whatever questions you do decide on, make sure you’re still monitoring your messages and that there’s added value to the bot for your clients. See our chatbot builder in action here!

8. Incorporate Excellent Photography

Staging and photography can be vastly underrated. If you’re just starting out and can’t hire a photographer, it’s smart to buy a decent camera and take some classes online.

Having an empty house with a sterile environment makes it more difficult for anyone to picture themselves living there. In fact, a survey found 83% of homebuyers want photos of the property to be available online. Photography makes a difference and the better the photos, the more attention-grabbing they will be on a highly visual network like Instagram.

Iglesias Realty Group is geared toward high-end clients, so their posts and photography reflect that sentiment.

9. Add Social-Specific Landing Pages

Online lead generation is a crucial skill for real estate marketers. And when it comes to generating real estate leads online, your landing pages could mean the difference between a new lead or missed opportunity. The National Association of Realtors discovered 72% of agents felt their total leads from the web were lacking.

The first thing you need to know is you should have multiple landing pages. All too often, real estate agents make the mistake of using a single landing page for all their lead generation efforts. However, there are several ways to generate leads, so you’ll likely need different landing pages for each.

For instance, you might create a gated piece of content such as “Top 10 Tips on Setting Your Home’s Price,” where people have to enter their email address to view it. But then on your homepage, you might include a lead generation form similar to what Blue Sky does for people to schedule a consultation.


Creating landing pages that convert is both an art and a science. It takes a lot of testing to get right. But here are a couple resources to help you out. In this helpful post, Instapage talks about the various ways to create real estate landing pages while Unbounce provides some easy templates for you to use.

real estate landing page templates

10. Set Up Twitter Keyword Searches

As part of your lead generation toolkit, set up keyword searches in Twitter to alert you when people are looking to buy or sell a home. You can narrow your searches down with zip code targeting.

The best way to handle Twitter keyword searches is to automate the alerting process. Set up the search and have a service like IFTTT notify you when a relevant Tweet comes up. You can also setup specific brand keywords in our Smart Inbox to see all the latest incoming posts from Twitter and other networks that contain your target keywords. This way you can be sure to never miss out on new lead opportunities due to overlooking a Tweet.

sprout social smart inbox

11. Sponsor a Local Event

One of the better ways of engaging your local community is by sponsoring events that you care about. This not only provides more interesting content for your followers, but it also demonstrates your interest in supporting important causes.

Live Urban Real Estate sponsored a lounge at a local music festival. Swag was given out and while the lounge itself isn’t exactly about real estate, you never know where you might find your next client.

12. Celebrate Milestones

People love to see themselves on a business’ social pages when the content is all about their celebration. Whether it’s a house closed or a new set of keys, potential clients will connect with them on an emotional level. In a way, it’s personalizing your pages which is way more interesting than only photos of house interiors.

13. Build Up Trust

As a real estate agent, you need to build trust with your clients. If you share blog posts, write articles, publish infographics and offer free information to help your clients, they’ll begin to trust your expertise. Offering free advice without pushing your services is an easy tactic for building trust.

Ines Hegedus-Garcia works in Miami and often posts about local events, real estate advice and other information where clients would take interest.

14. Stay Relevant After Closing

It’s not often you’ll have back-to-back repeat clients, but you always want to stay relevant in your posts. Did you know 70% of homebuyers completely forget who their agent was just a year after closing? Like the previous idea, you want to build up trust for you as an expert and stay connected.

This means sharing information on such things like renovations can keep your posts useful for past clients but also for current ones who are interested in the topic. Local news and events also fall into this category of posts.

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Posted by Pavla Mizzi – Ben Estates on Sunday, September 10, 2017

Additionally, this tactic can really help with your referrals when users mention you on social.

15. Experiment With Videos

There are so many video options for posts now. Instead of a standard walkthrough of the house, maybe hire some actors who look like your target clients. Consider creating helpful tutorial videos for your clients, too. Not enough money to hire a staging expert? Pair up with an expert for some how-to videos. It establishes your credibility, gives the staging expert a potential expert and helps your clients. All a win-win.

Joyce Rey Real Estate shared a video that featured a couple enjoying their neighborhood, coming home and taking a break. It highlights all of the main features of the house and helps potential clients picture themselves living there.


There are many ways to spark up your real estate social marketing efforts. To keep track of all of your efforts, we recommend using a social media management platform like Sprout Social to keep all your social media scheduling, engagement and analytics in one, manageable space.

sprout social smart inbox

For any new marketing idea, we recommend tracking your analytics before and after execution. Getting familiar with how your community engages with you will make it easier for you to figure out if a new marketing idea is for you or not.

This post 15 Real Estate Marketing Ideas to Win More Clients on Social originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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