(NOTE: this is part of the “Blogging tips” series)
I’ve already mentioned this in part 4: Making your blog search engine-friendly, but this is an important, and usually ignored part of search engine optimization, which deserves an article of its own.
First, I want to thank Darren Rowse of ProBlogger, because of whom I came to be aware of how important post titles are. It was that article that inspired me to investigate this matter, and it came as a surprise that most people — including myself, not so long ago — are completely unaware of this.
Here’s a real life example. There’s a blog, The Invisible Monster (it’s in Portuguese, never mind the fact that the name is in English), that is possibly the best personal blog I’ve ever seen. Most personal blogs are mundane, boring, and of any interest only to a small group of friends of relatives; not that one (though the author is a relative of mine). It’s funny, witty, wonderfully written, and still personal – no “selling out” by talking about non-personal subjects to attract visitors at all.
However, it has a problem. Every post has a title like this: the very first post was called “The First”, the next one was “The Second”, the 34th one was “The Thirtieth-Fourth”, and so on.
And now, consider this: do you ever go to Google and search for “the second” or “the thirtieth-fourth”? Do you know anyone who does?
Now, that particular blog was personal in all respects — not a single ad, for instance — so it was OK. But if he wanted to get more hits, to become “popular”, those titles would be a huge problem.
Here are 2 important tips:
- every post’s title should be related to the content.
- every post’s title should be related to the content without requiring the reading of the article itself.
What does 2. mean? As I said in part 4, bloggers often have the temptation to be “clever” with the titles they use. Sometimes they use a couple of words (e.g. “And then…”) which lead into the article. Sometimes they have a title that only makes sense after you’ve read the whole article, but that, by itself, wouldn’t give anyone the slightest hint of whatever it was the article was about.
Avoid those. If you care about hits at all, use clear, self-explanatory titles, which mention in some way what the article is about, and which show what the article is about (those two are not necessarily the same).