Do you have a blog for your HVAC business? If so, how much time do you spend writing your blog post titles? Are they something of an afterthought, a hurried, last-minute part of your online content marketing?
Whether your topic is programmable thermostats or radiant heating, your title -- the equivalent of a newspaper headline -- will make or break your blog (or any of your online content for that matter).
That little string of words has to perform some big jobs. It must:
• Grab your readers' attention
• Tell customers and potential customers how they stand to benefit by reading your content
• Provide information to search engines so that they can guide customers in your direction (so you can be found).
Well-written blog post titles serve your marketing strategy and your customers better -- and they will live on longer, and in more places online, than you might imagine. That can translate into steady business for you, as your blog content works harder and better to build your standing among homeowners in your community.
Like newspaper article headlines, blog post titles tell readers precisely what's contained in each entry, helping them decide quickly whether your post is worth their time. Titles also provide key information to Google and other search engines, which use that information to decide whether -- and where -- to list your blog among a reader's search results.
Your titles will also appear on Twitter feeds, Facebook and LinkedIn (and other networking sites), and in your blog's archive. So talk to a broad audience directly. Tell them what you're going to tell them in your titles and give them a reason to read on.
Yes, it's a tall order, but think of how much competition you have out there in the universe of HVAC contractors. They're using social media, too. You have about three seconds to convince your potential customers that they should read your blog.
How? Here are some tips:
• Effective blog post titles convey content that’s valuable to your potential readers and customers. Offer a real benefit. As a local HVAC contractor, you are in a position to offer equipment and maintenance advice. Consider the problems that your customers present you with consistently. What information can you provide to help them take better care of their equipment or make more informed purchasing decisions?
• Use your blog post title to convey that benefit. That means using concise, specific language, cutting meaningless verbiage. A post titled, "Your Furnace's Air Filter: Replacing It In Five Simple Steps" will work better than "Keeping Your Filter Clean Keeps Your Furnace Running Great." Anticipate your potential readers' search terms, called keywords, and include them in your title. It's important to use -- and not overuse -- keywords in the post itself, too, but it’s essential to include them in titles so the search engines can find your posts. Homeowners seeking information about furnace filters are more likely to type, "replacing furnace filters" into their search engine than any string of words containing "keeping," "running" or "great."
• Frontload your keywords. Place them toward the beginning of your titles. Google weighs early words more heavily when returning search results -- as do potential readers scanning their options.
• Play it straight. Avoid the temptation to be clever or tell a joke in your blog post titles. Google doesn't "get" heating and air conditioning puns, even if they have your receptionist laughing; Google may skip your title when returning search results.
• Three keys to success: numbers, numbers and numbers. Use your title to promise a list of easy-to-digest tips, and you will get your customers' attention. For example, in an October post, Conditioned Air of Naples, Florida, offered "Three Common Threats To Indoor Air Quality And How to Address Them."
• Convey your authority on the subject. "Ventilation Is Important In Your Home, And Here's Why," reads a title from AC Pro, a network of HVAC contractors in California and Nevada. It's definitive. And it lets the readers know they will be getting advice from someone qualified to give it.
• At a loss? "How to" HVAC blog post titles are reliable winners, especially if your readers will be able to take specific action after reading them. South Jersey's Campbell Comfort Systems laid out for readers,"How To Solve The 'Too Hot -- Too Cold' Problem."
• Be accurate. Never use a misleading title to entice your readers to click through, only to provide content that falls short or takes another direction entirely. You will sink your own credibility, and fast. In the HVAC contracting business, as you know, your good word is among your greatest assets.
Finally, mix it up, in terms of content as well as presentation. Originality is key to content marketing. Go by a formula, and your customers -- and the search engines -- will learn quickly to steer clear of your blog.
Your blog is part of your public face. It helps people learn who you are and why they should pick up the phone and call you. Give them a good reason to read it with compelling, carefully-crafted blog post titles.
Joe Pulizzi is CEO for SocialTract, the leading blogging/social media service for HVACR Contractors. Joe’s new book, Managing Content Marketing, is now available on Amazon and Kindle. Joe can be reached on Twitter @juntajoe or by email [email protected].