How To Bake SEO Into Viral-Friendly Blog Posts

by on April 27, 2011 | posted in Miscellaneous Strategies


There exists an inherent battle that occurs within every blog post released to the world. This battle is between the potential virality of the post,  and the future SEO value of its contents. The reason for this battle is due to the non-synchronous nature of a potentially viral blog title and a more boring, SEO friendly headline.

Viral-friendly, “trafficbait” titles have numbers, are phrased as questions, and sometimes run completely opposite to what people are frequently searching for. Not surprisingly, some of the best posts will not be searchable, because they provide content that had previously never been thought of.

Despite the truth in that statement, there are nonetheless opportunities where current, powerful social virality and future SEO value can coexist. To have a chance of ranking for keyword searches that have real volume, a blogger must synchronize both elements – so he or she can draw the links it requires to rank for worthwhile keywords, and also, attract the initial attention they undoubtedly want. The problem with this, though, is that the optimal title tag to rank is not the optimal headline to spread the same content to the world.

In example, let’s look at the keyword search [creating infographics] – a legitimate keyword with good volume.

Currently, several blog posts are ranking – however, none of them have elements you might describe as optimal – or even decent – as it comes to SEO strategy. This was undoubtedly because they wanted that initial viral “boost” – but now, since time has passed and it is no longer 2010, it makes sense for these websites – especially the ones not ranking 1st or 2nd – to modify that title tag to improve ranking chances for a keyword that has legitimate traffic potential.

That second result could easily change its title tag to “Creating Infographics: A Guide to Modern Infographic Design” – without creating cognitive dissonance when the user clicked through. The third result’s title tag could be “Creating Infographics: 5 Tips for Building Effective Infographics” – and have the same impact.

These posts both have good viral headlines – but they’re also terrible SEO title tags. Since the baked in virality has now passed its initial period of effectiveness, it now makes sense to adjust to an SEO title tag to maximize traffic potential.

Initial Setup and Implementation

Every blogger should keep this in mind with creating a blog post – especially if they have desire to rank longterm for keywords with real value. My suggestion is use the following process:

  • Have the URL string match the keyword you want to rank for – not the title of the post.
  • Have the blog post title use the optimal headline for virality.
  • Use the official Tweet Button over Tweetmeme
  • Implement a Custom Title Tag Using WordPress/Thesis/whatever your interface is – I suggest checking out WPMUDEV for resource help on this one.
  • Create a Custom Title Tag skewed towards your keyword focus

The actual URL of your post has no impact on the spread of the piece through social media – shorter URLs are overall more user friendly and also, URL shorteners make it unlikely most users will ever even notice your URL. So, it makes sense to bake in the optimal URL from the getgo.

I recommend you use the official Tweet Button because it uses a different, SEO-friendly title retrieval system than does Tweetmeme. Tweet Button will pull your blog post title, not the title tag. This allows for optimal SEO-customization of that element while maintaining the potential for a powerful social push.

On the other hand, Tweetmeme will pull your title tag, making it difficult to make set-and-ignore blog posts, because an SEO-optimized title tag, created from the getgo, will make for content that is more difficult to spread.

You can solve this issue later by going back and changing the title tags after the initial “push period” has passed, but this adds annoying post-implementation maintenance. Also, my WordPress guru Andrew Norcross tells me the official Tweet Button is way more reliable and consistent than Tweetmeme – so you should be using that anyways.

Static Blog Posts

If you read my 1-year-anniversary post, you know I hate that great, evergreen content is quickly disregarded due to the restricted, present-skewed nature of blogs. By thinking with foresight when creating blog posts, you retain the potential to maintain search sustainability for your evergreen content – even if the users who land on the homepage of your blog are likely to ignore it today.

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