Which article would you rather read? One called “Small Business Tips,” or “Top 10 Small Business Tips?” If you’re like most web denizens, you’ll probably choose the latter. While you may not realize it at the time, modifiers like those found at the beginning of the second title are very effective at drawing in readers.
While it may be difficult to believe that adding a few words to your titles can make a significant difference in your rankings, a test by Anvil Media revealed that certain modifiers are much more commonly searched for. For instance, Anvil found that while “greatest restaurants” is searched for about 28 times every month on Google, “top 10 restaurants” sees around 1300 monthly searches. Better still, “best restaurants” shows a reported Google monthly search volume of 14,800. With such data, the importance of effectively using the right modifiers becomes clear. Before you see how effective these modifiers can be, however, it may be helpful to learn exactly what they are.
What are Modifiers?
For our purposes, the term “modifiers” refers to words that are added to key words and phrases in order to improve optimization for search engines. For instance, instead of calling an article “Workout Tips,” you might add a modifier and title it “Best Workout Tips.” Words like “Best,” “Top” and “Leading” are commonly searched terms and are usually fairly easy to inject into your content without sacrificing readability. “2011” and other date-specific modifiers can also be effective ways of attracting extra traffic, but keep in mind that such modifiers tend to lose relevancy more quickly.
If you are looking to drum up more local attention, try adding a geography-specific modifier such as your city’s name, surrounding towns and suburbs, your county, or your state. By mixing these with modifiers like “Top” and “Best,” you can still target a specific demographic while improving your regional visibility online. For example, using a title such as “Top Dallas Auto Insurance Providers” will help you get more interested, targeted traffic than simply writing “Auto Insurance Providers.” Also, if you represent or run a business, modifiers having to do with money, like “Rates,” “Pricing” and “Offers,” can also be effective for grabbing reader’s attention.
Even though they typically see lower search numbers, using these terms can make it easier for your site to stand out, get hits and make money. For instance, Google’s Keyword Toolshows 246,000 monthly searches for “GPS systems,” a high-competition phrase. The term “Buy GPS” shows only 74,000 monthly searches, but there is less competition, making it easier for you to land on Google’s front page.
How Do I Use Modifiers?
While modifiers can be used throughout your content, the best place to use them is generally in titles and headers, as
Google PageRank generally places more emphasis on elements within H1 and H2 tags. For example, let’s say you own a pet business, and you want to write a post about Halloween costumes for dogs. It would be advantageous to use a title such as “Best 2011 Dog Halloween Costumes. People searching for costumes will want to know which ones are currently popular or are likely to become popular in the coming year – they don’t want to see any from last year. By adding “2011” to your title, you let visitors know that they’re getting the most relevant content.
Of course, you should never sacrifice readability in favour of squeezing in more modifiers. This generally looks like keyword spamming and Google may even reject your article as black hat SEO. As with all SEO, success lies with moderation.
How Do I Make More Money With Modifiers?
In order to find the modifiers that work the best for your content and pull in the most revenue, you need to start tracking how well each modified phrase performs in terms of attracting traffic and improving your conversion rate. One way to do this is with split testing. With the help of a tool like Google Website Optimizer, you can create two different versions of the same page, using different modifiers on each. The tool then randomly redirects visitors to one of your two pages and records their activity.
You can use the resulting data to determine which page had a higher conversion rate. If you are exhaustive in these tests, you can discover the best possible modifiers your site. This will in turn lead to more traffic, conversions and profit.
Finally, like any SEO tactic, you should try to diversify the modifiers you use to help your content show up on a greater number of search queries. For instance, you could use both “top marketing techniques” and “best marketing techniques” at various points in the same article in order to catch searches for both phrases. While you shouldn’t cram in too many different modifiers, optimizing your content for a few different variations can increase your odds of showing up for multiple searches.