B Y   T O M   T O R T O R I C I   

If you’ve tried to optimize your business website with keywords, you may have noticed that what appeals to Google isn’t always what appeals to flesh-and-blood customers.

That’s especially true if you’re trying to make an emotional connection with buyers, which is a core component of genuinely effective marketing.

In body text, you have some room and flexibility to cover both bases. But it’s a much bigger challenge in that all-important first headline that readers see at the top of your Home page.

We’re taught that including our main keyword in that first “H1” headline is a universal best practice. That’s why you see the exact same keyword phrase used as the Home page headline by multiple competitors in any business category. Unfortunately, this makes everyone sound the same, which is the exact opposite of what you want when you’re trying to stand out.

What’s the solution? In the example below, you’ll find three different approaches for handling this surprisingly common dilemma.

Let’s say your focus keyword for the page is “Technology Training for Seniors,” because, well, that’s what you offer, that’s who you offer it to, and that’s what potential customers are plugging into Google, according to your keyword research.

But savvy marketers know that simply identifying your service isn’t enough. Competitors who understand and empathize with their target market’s issues and pain points are more likely to gain their trust than competitors who don’t.

In this case, a strong, human-focused headline may say something like this:

Confused and Frustrated by Today’s High-Tech Devices?


Buyers know that a company that clearly “gets” what they’re going through is a company that’s more likely to actually help them. In fact, the response we should be aiming for is “This company gets me.” That implicit, emotionally-resonant bond (and the relief that goes with it) is marketing gold, already setting things up for a successful sale.

Putting the headline in the form of a question also makes it more engaging, since it prompts a (however silent) response.

Now here’s our challenge: How do we squeeze the keyword phrase “Technology Training for Seniors” into our emotionally-focused H1 headline? Go ahead, try it, I dare you.

Give up? Let me offer three different approaches to this challenge.

1. The Pre-Headline

Picture this: At the top of the Home page banner are the words TECHNOLOGY TRAINING FOR SENIORS in small, bold capital letters. This keyword phrase is assigned the H1 tag, which makes Google happy.

You only have to style that H1 so it’s a smaller font size. This can be done with CSS, in-line styles, or the styling controls in your theme, as long as the rule applies only in this one instance, without affecting H1s throughout the site.

Directly under that, in large, regular-weight upper-and-lower-case type, comes your human-focused headline. So it looks like this:



Confused and Frustrated by Today’s High-Tech Devices?


This approach works best when the keyword phrase is no more than three or four words, so it can be taken in in one ‘eye gulp’. It also works best if the keyword phrase has a different font color or background color, to visually separate it from the main headline.


2. The Sub-Headline

There’s no sin in putting your keyword in your H2 (a smaller secondary headline, or sub-head) instead of your H1. After all, Plus Google has long implied that our websites should be written first for humans, and second for search engines.

Of course, marketers trying to rank in Google are all trying to win a contest where the maker of the game won’t actually tell us the rules. So if conflicting information, advice and practices are disturbingly pervasive, take solace in the fact that we’re all in the same boat.

Anyway, the sub-head approach might look something like this:


Confused and Frustrated by Today’s High-Tech Devices?

Technology training for seniors helps you become knowledgeable, confident and productive.


While the first part of the sub-head includes your keyword, the second part offers an opportunity to further stoke the buyer’s desire.

Structurally, we’re presenting the problem in the headline, immediately following it with an attractive solution in the sub-head. This simple problem > solution formula happens to be the basis for almost all effective sales messaging.


3. The Combined Headline

Our friend here is the simple colon, used like this:

Technology Training for Seniors: Are You Confused and Frustrated by Today’s High-Tech Devices?


Yes, this approach does make the headline longer, which is not necessarily optimal. But by putting the first part in bold type or a different color, the line is visually broken up for easier absorption.

In any case, we manage to appeal to search engines and humans at the same time, which is the point of the exercise, right?


To, learn more about attracting search engines, there are about a billion blog posts out there about SEO. To learn more about attracting humans, there’s the Optimized for Humans blog. Have you subscribed yet?


Share It:

Tom TortoriciAbout the Author:  Tom Tortorici is an Atlanta copywriter and web content writer who helps companies make a genuine connection with their audience. His classes and conference presentations have focused on how writing, strategy and design can work together to grab attention and interest even among readers with short attention spans. In addition to working directly with businesses, Tom regularly partners with web designers and marketing agencies.

All Posts/Subscribe >

Info for Businesses >

Info for Designers/Agencies >

Tom Tortorici Inc. | Tom@TomTortorici.com | 770-934-7861 | 3101 Rockaway Rd | Atlanta GA 30341