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SEO Tip 1 – Use Keywords in Titles

One of the things I’m constantly amazed at is how many web publishers miss one of the easiest ways to maximize their positioning in Search Engines by simply including the keywords that they’d like to be found for in their post titles.

I spend a lot of time looking at online articles written on blogs, newspapers and websites and some days it seems that every second or third one has a title that is either cryptic, clever or cute at the expense of Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

To put it bluntly – when it comes to blog SEO I believe that your page and post titles are incredibly important. Google in particularly seems to value the words in your title incredibly highly.

Whilst I too feel the temptation to be clever with my post titles from time to time (and sometimes give into it) – I know that if I don’t get traffic from search engines then a fairly significant part of my income will disappear.

So if you’re writing about a new ‘Pink Widget’ have a think about the words that a potential reader will use to search for in Google to find the information you’re presenting. How would you search the net for information on ‘Pink Widgets’?

Without a doubt we’d all include ‘pink widget’ in the search we did. We might refine it by including a third word like ‘price’, ‘review’, ‘advice’, ‘problems’ etc (which may be worthwhile words to include either in the title or body of content) but the best words to include in the title are ‘pink widgets’ – if you don’t you’ve got virtually no chance of being found for that search term unless no one else is writing about them.

Keep in mind that research shows that people search the web a lot for names of products and people and that they are often quite specific their searches. If you’re writing about something specific make your title reflect this.

Of course it’s worth saying that it’s not as simple as just stuffing your titles with keywords – for one they need to make sense (no one will click on a link in Google if its a collection of unrelated words), secondly if you put too many words in your title you run the risk of decreasing their power and confusing the search engines and thirdly you’ll disillusion your regular readers if you mess with stuffing titles with too many words.

My advice is to keep it simple – get to the point with your titles and try get into the shoes of your reader.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Absolutely – title is vital (sorry)

    Here’s a selection from my piano/keyboard blog, not because I am an expert, or they can’t be improved, but because they seem to work at bringing people from SEs, particularly google:

    Native Instruments to release Akoustik Piano
    Bruce Hornsby returns to the keys in piano-centered album “Halcyon Days”
    Interview with jazz pianist Fred Hersch
    Yamaha P-250 keyboard features and reviews
    What is MIDI?
    Apple Garageband and Music Loops doing good business
    Musician Profile: Sarah McLachlan
    Yamaha S90ES: The ultimate 88-note weighted piano/synth?
    Groove & Phrase Synthesizer VSTi
    How a grand piano works
    Developing excellent piano technique
    Kawai MP9500 Digital Piano review

    Well, you get the general idea. Some of my titles stink, but I always try to use a useful title that describes what the post is about using words people will search for – in my case I often use the model number, the musician or band name, or the technical term. It also doesn’t hurt (as far as I’m concerned) to put it in the description tag. WordPress doesn’t do this by default (or it didn’t)

  2. Hey, that’s good, “title is vital”! And it’s an area that I’m only just becoming aware of – am one for clever but non-SEO titles. Good advice.

    An update on the project for writers that Deborah Woehr and myself are working on: we have the main site up at Writers Blog Alliance and I am writing an introductory series on its aims, the first of which should be going up very soon (it includes ideas taken from your series). There are also several posts on my site, Gone Away, that explain more of the origin and intent of the project. Writers should take a look.

  3. Good tip here. I already knew it, because I read about it elsewhere a few weeks ago, but it’s true that before that, I’d have gone for the “clever” titles, not for the SEO-friendly ones. It’s also a good exercise in writing—coming up with a title that is appropriate both for article understanding and for search engines is harder than it looks like!

  4. I was just one step before asking how to get google indexing my posts since for the last days only the index page was found at google. But as of today, google has about 24 posts of my 60 in the index. Seems that I had just to wait a little bit more…

    And keywords in title: Of course I have ;)

  5. Darren, as a WordPress user do you think there is any relationship between titles and permalink slugs as far as SEO goes? I notice that you tend to use the full post title in your permalinks. I’ve recently started using the slug capability to try to reduce the permalink to a date plus a few hyphen seperated words rather than the full hyphenated title because as a human I find long URLs irritating. But if Google likes the longer titles better I suppose I can always go back to them.

  6. Jason I think Google likes keywords in URLs. I probably shouldn’t have put the date in mine (that was an oversight) – but apart from that having the words in them seem to do pretty well.

  7. Darren, I too debated about putting the date into my URLs in WordPress. I left it in on my new GPS Reviews blog because I like how I can use it in statistics. For example at the end of June I ran my stats showing the most popular posts and filtered by the URL name where the date matched any post in May.

    Using this technique I can see which posts from LAST month (May in this example) were the most popular by page views during June… Then I can analyze those posts to try and figure out what about them provided good traffic for a longer amount of time.

  8. I’ve run tests that [SEO tip – test everything!] that indicate having your keywords be the first words [to the left] in your title is also better.

    Therefore, “Keywords in Title – SEO Tip 1” will get a higher ranking for the search term “Keywords in Title” than “SEO Tip 1 – Keywords in Title”.

    Darren, I’ve wondered whether the little “>>” at the begining of your titles ‘costs’ you any SEO points. I’ve seen experts recommend against that kind of thing.

  9. Hmm… based on your response and what I’m reading in the comments here it might be a good idea for the post slug to be the title distilled down to its basic keywords. Kind of a combination of what I’ve been doing.

    And that’s a good point about not using the date in the URL to simplify it. Personally I like that part of the URL because it means that I can recycle slugs across multiple posts for similar entries that occur on different days. Also like Tim said it’s useful for log analysis.

  10. Good point about permalinks. In Blogger the title is cut off after around 4 words for the permalink. Blogger doesn’t automatically print out the permalink, so I have to code it manually each time. That entails guessing how much of the title will appear in the permalink, thus limiting me to four shortish words for the title.

  11. This is great advice, and I’d also add that it’s important to come up with a title that is original, too. Because I post commentary about the latest cancer news, there are always numerous other articles about the same story. However, a brief glance down the page on Google will reveal that they are all titled the same thing, almost to the letter. I try to write a title that will stand out, often even posing it as a question, and people seem to respond to this fairly well.

    For instance, this is a title that I recently wrote:
    Sunlight, Vitamin D & Cancer: Shouldn’t We Be Educating Instead Of Scaring?

    Note that I managed to get all of the important keywords into the beginning of the title, and still created something readable. I think an original title is really important, particularly if you’re covering news.

  12. I agree that criptic (sp) titles are no-nos. I also read somewhere (maybe even here!) not to use clever word play like in newspapers. The reason is that newspapers often give the reader visual clues (pictures and subheads) that help the reader get the cleverness and these are lacking in RSS feeds.

    Keywords are also definitely important. I ran a series two weeks ago on a industry disaster and forgot one key word in some of the early articles. Duh! It cost me some placement in the search engines. After I added the keyword into the article titles, my placement on newer articles went up.

    One other reason to avoid criptic titles that isn’t mentioned by anyone yet…and has nothing to do with SEO. When folks are using aggregators, they scan the headlines looking for interesting articles. WHen the titles are too criptic, your potential readers may blow past you because your titles make them work to hard to figure out if you’re writing something they’re interested in reading.

    My titles are boring but give folks a good idea of what the content will be.

  13. i spent more times before finding the source of this kind information. now I’m not. Thanks a lot.

  14. I think there’s a fine line here with titles – yes, we have to be rather bland to get the search engines onside but won’t doing that lose some of the uniqueness of a blog.

    I understand we need the keywords but I prefer a little creativity in titles – it brings out the personalilty of a blog … or am I mising out on a ton of visitors by not getting with the program ;-)

    About the permalinks in WordPress – how hard would it be to change from the full link (/2005/08/07/title-of-post/ etc.,) of each post and cutting off the date and month? How would it effect my current posts and all the links to and fro?

    Would it screw things up?

  15. We’ve been trying to do this on all of our blogs. It’s hard to not give in and be a little cryptic, kinda like cheating on your diet, on occasion.

    Doing this, over the long run, which is what Darren’s trying to teach us, will pay off.

    Jon, thanks for your tip !

  16. […] Use them in some or all of the following ways: – in post and page titles (read my post on using keywords in titles – in URL of page (blog herald wrot […]

  17. […] in some or all of the following ways: – Keywords in post and page titles (read my post on using keywords in titles – Keywords in URL of page (blog he […]

  18. I think that post titles get extra Google attention because they are normally done in a header tag (h1, h2, etc.). I’ll bet that if your blog template had the post title in a standard p or div tag, they wouldn’t help as much.

  19. Yep, having the title (and hopefully keywords) in h1 and h2 tags should also aid with SEO, aslong as you are doing it for the right reasons, and not just stuffing keywords in there for the sake of it. And using a little CSS can help you style the titles in a way that suits your site (e.g. a h1 heading does not necessarily have to appear bigger than h2).

    I’m probably preaching to the converted here, but I thought it was worth mentioning.

  20. […] September 4th, 2005 at 9:42 pm (Blogging) In what I think is Day 3 of Problogger’s 31 Days to a Better Blog series, Darren stresses the importance of including keywords in post titles. My first thought upon reading this was that I know how to do that. After all, as a lawyer, I spend a good portion of my time searching for information pertinent to whatever I’m working on at the time, and so I have had some practice at translating concepts into keywords. I’d like to think that I’m acutely aware of the fact that others will find my post or not depending on the words I choose to boil the content of the post down to its essence. […]

  21. […] Jakob Nielsen has put together an interesting article with the Top Ten Design Mistakes that he sees bloggers making. It’s a pretty insightful list – not definitive by any means – but definitely helpful in my mind. 1. No Author Biographies – I’m amazed that so many blogs don’t have any information about who is the behind them. Not essential information but common sense in my books to be transparent enough to tell people who you are. 2. No Author Photo – for me this is not a must – but it does add something personal to a blog. 3. Nondescript Posting Titles – regular readers will know about my passion for post titles – enough said 4. Links Don’t Say Where They Go – I agree – it also helps with SEO to use make links more descriptive 5. Classic Hits are Buried – So true – highlight your best posts or they’ll go unseen after dropping from the front page 6. The Calendar is the Only Navigation – has anyone ever used a calendar to navigate a blog or is it just me who avoids them? 7. Irregular Publishing Frequency – again something I’ve written quite a bit about. It’s not about high or low posting frequency – but regular posting. Find your rhythm and stick to it. 8. Mixing Topics – Stick to you niche 9. Forgetting That You Write for Your Future Boss – so true. Once you hit publish you lose control over who will ever see what you write. Be careful. 10. Having a Domain Name Owned by a Weblog Service – the quote of this article is ‘Letting somebody else own your name means that they own your destiny on the Internet.’ So true. […]

  22. […] Most niches have both big and little picture aspects to them. Good bloggers have a grasp of both and are able to expand upon them in the one blog. For instance in the Pro Blogging niche some big picture issues include topics like How Bloggers Make Money from Blogs (a broad sweeping overview of the blogging for money ‘industry’) where as a micro post might be something like How to Use Keywords in Titles (very focused upon a minute (yet important) aspect of the whole niche). […]

  23. 神播先生 says: 12/28/2005 at 6:39 pm


  24. Hi Darren!

    I’m pretty new into this problogging thing though I’ve been blogging for more than 2 years now. Odd ei??? I guess I wasn’t just sensitive enough back then. Anyway, this article is really great and it reaffirms what I’ve learned from the others about SEO.

    Good luck to you man!

    One favor, can we exchange links? My problogging related website is at http://money.mikelopez.info/. I would greatly appreciate it if you will.



  25. yes, title is very important.
    If the title is not attracting, people will not click it even if it is the first one in the search result.

  26. […] Keywords in post and page titles (read my post on using keywords in titles […]

  27. It’s very useful.Good articles

  28. […] Keywords in post and page titles (read my post on using keywords in titles) […]

  29. […] Use keywords in your post titles – Read Darren’s post about using keywords in post titles. […]

  30. […] Gostaria de chamar a atenção aqui para o impacto da soma de dois fatores. Primeiro fator, temos uma carência de abordagem a este assunto. Recebi várias visitas em busca de informações sobre qualidade de atendimento e atendimento personalizado. O bom aspecto é que algumas pessoas estão se preocupando e procurando sobre o assunto, então se você acha que tem conhecimento sobre o assunto, escreva. O segundo fator, é a importância da escolha de um bom título. A url pesa muito no algoritmo Page Rank, se você simplesmente não se preocupar com o título escolhido, os indexadores terão dificuldade de encontrar seu texto. […]

  31. Yes, truly a very important TIP!

    Another one is using the keywords in the URL…

  32. I am trying to experiment with titles and keywords on my Meaning of names blog. WIll let you know how it works.

  33. I think it’s good idea, I have been wrote some articles with long title, when I checked in google search engine my post is on the middle of search engine google, and next time I tried to write with the friendly title, oh, it’s usefull trick to index by search google, short title with useful meaning is better than more word.

    Thanks Rowse for your tips

  34. Thanks a lot Darren for this crash course. It’s a real treasure to all blogging beginners

  35. Hi Darren,
    All said and done, I dont understand how will I use keywords as titles in my creative writings. You get my point? You see, I am having this blog of mine which is a sort of platform to showcase my creative aptitude and I am in a loss how to have keywords as titles in them. A comment will do lots of goods to me. I am literally confused.

    And thanks once again

  36. […] Keywords in title, header tags (h1, h2), main text, and URL • Content quality (readability, spam-like?, and […]

  37. >>>Whilst I too feel the temptation to be clever with my post titles from time to time

    Darren — the Page Optimization WordPress plugin will allow you to put your key phrase in the title and add a subtitle in line with the title and be clever there. Then for the blog post pages it puts the subtitle at the beginning of the Meta Description so you get the title and then subtitle in the SERPs also. I am still working on the feature to add the subtitle at the start of the content in the RSS feed.

    Take a boo and tell if you have any advise or tips how I can make it better let me comment me.

    Title Optimization: Balancing Understandable Titles & Targeting Your Keywords

  38. I’ve noticed that the more relevant my titles are to the blog subject, the better my search engine ranking. I’ve been amazed many times when looking at my referral logs to see how well some posts are ranking in the search engines and it’s usually based on the title of the post.

  39. A team of Traffic Experts is again monitored and lead by another Expert. This person is involved in analyzing the results, tactics used and suitable tactics. He would also ensure that the assigned tactic is carried away with efficiency.

  40. That is very good but if I write always the same title with some variations, is it okay. Quebec City Hotel, Auberge du Trésor and Quebec City Hotel, Château Frontenac, is okay to rewrite Quebec City Hotel ?

  41. People just want to know what they will read to begin with and if they are interested to read it actually.
    That’s why I make sure to write it in all my pages.

  42. Another great post, some people just don’t have a clue about search engines, how they work and how to optimise their websites.

  43. As usual, good information and more to think about!

  44. I couldn’t agree more, title tags are extremely important. From the search engines point you are hardly going to put words in your title that have nothing to do with the document/page. Mind you it will look for keyword densisty as well so much sure you have the title words in your body copy as well!

  45. This is a very important tip that many still dont understand. Ensuring you have firstly applied the right keyword research and received the right results from this will indeed help you save time and increase growth for your blog.

  46. Fantastic Post!
    Actually I am looking for blog which contains the SEO tips and Where I found here exactly what I need. After a long time I have seen wonderful blog It includes best techniques about how to divert the traffic and It’s the easy way to follow.

  47. With WordPress I have used an image as the header, including fancy text as the title. Therefore the ‘title’ is empty.

    So, where can I try to insert SEO keywords? Your commentors help by suggesting usign the URLs.

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