Blogging tips 4.5: The importance of titles

(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:

  1. every post’s title should be related to the content.
  2. 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).

18 Responses to “Blogging tips 4.5: The importance of titles”

  1. Michael says:

    Are you saying that only the titles are searched? That having ky words in the body is not sufficient?

  2. Dehumanizer says:

    No, not at all. But titles do have a bigger “weight” than the regular article text. If someone googles for “cheese dip” (there I go again…), pages with “cheese dip” on the title will probably appear before those that only have it in the article text.

    Also, titles are what appear as, well, titles in the search results, so, when someone searches for something, even if one of your articles is in the search results, if the title is something like “Well…”, it’s unlikely that it will be clicked on.

  3. Dehumanizer says:

    Note that most really popular sites (not just blogs) also include what they’re about in the title. e.g. “ Online Shopping for Electronics, Apparel, Computers, Books, DVDs & more”.

  4. J Wynia says:

    I rewrote my templates and oriented my posts toward keyword rich, long titles a couple of months ago. I now have the longer titles in h1 tags, in the page title and in the URL via permalinks. That combination of 3 “powerhouse” locations has led to MUCH higher placement in Google and I’m suddenly in the top 10 for all kinds of terms, just by virtue of my titles. For example, my blog isn’t *about* the movie Serenity or the series Firefly. Yet, I wrote 2-3 posts the week it was released, including one that mentioned merchandise for the movie. The *next day*, I was the number 1 site for “serenity merchandise”.

    Think of it like a grocery store. They generally carry the same items from week to week, i.e., the keywords “soup”, “chicken”, etc. are always present in the store somewhere. However, they are GOING to sell more soup if it’s on an endcap at the end of the aisle. If you don’t care how much soup you sell, it doesn’t matter: your store carries soup. However, if you really want to sell soup, the difference is big.

  5. Is your blog failing because the title of your posts suck?

    I have been in the blogging scene just about a month now. One thing I have noticed is that the title of my posts is the most important key success factor for my blog’s success. The difference between a mediocre title and a great one can be more…

  6. […] CopyBlogging has a nice article called How to Write Headlines That Work. I’ve already written about it in the Blogging Tips series, in The Importance of Titles, but my version is more SEO-related, while CopyBlogging’s has more to do with marketing, and titles that “intrigue” visitors. Good, useful reading. Tags: blog, blogging, headlines, titles, copyblogging Related posts: […]

  7. […] use good, self-explaining titles. People usually skim through the post titles, and only read more if a title grabs their interest. Obviously, a post called “8 essential programs for Series 60 phones” is much more attractive than a post whose title is “my mobile phone experiences”, even if the content is exactly the same. […]

  8. […] In The Tlog’s Blogging Tips, the importance of titles includes a very important point bloggers often overlook: There’s a blog, The Invisible Monster, 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. […]

  9. […] If you’ve read the Blogging Tips series, you’re surely aware of a part of it called The Importance of Titles. Titles (meaning what ends up between the <title> </title> tags) are one of the most important, and most ignored, parts of SEO, these days. Not only do search engines use them to rank pages, but they’re also what actually appears in search results, and a bad title is much less likely to be clicked on… even if the content is exactly what the user wants. […]

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