Creative or practical – how should I title things?

by on August 8, 2011

How to create titles for blog posts and videosThis is a very common question I get from small business owners – when it comes to choosing titles (for things like blog posts or You Tube videos), should I…

Make them search engine friendly?


Make them clever and enticing?

Write for humans


Yes, it’s important for Google to like you. But when you’re writing for a search engine, stuffing your content with keywords, it can lead to some pretty ridiculous copy. That no human would ever enjoy.

And the same goes for your titles. Imagine if every single blog post, every single video, had the same string of keywords in the title.

Not very engaging, interesting or fun! Especially if your business is very niche, and you have a small number of keywords.

So use your guts instincts. If you’re starting to feel ridiculous, that’s a good sign that you’re overdosing. Try breaking things up a little.

Clever is good


Interesting headlines make for excellent social media fodder. They can pique interest in the increasingly cluttered world of online communications. They can get you that click.

You might also want to focus on branding and interest. Maybe you’ve given a video series a specific name, for example, that your customers know and recognize but that would mean nothing to a search engine. In that case, it clearly makes sense to stick with the branding.

Maximize tagging


If you go for engaging, you can still make your content search friendly by using tagging.

In your blog posts, you can create an alternate title tag that will give search engines a nudge, but will be invisible to your readers. Here you can be as plain, to the point and boring as you want. You can also include descriptions and keywords to further help Google.

How to do this depends on how your website content is managed. If you use WordPress, when you are in the post writing area look for areas that allow for a title tag, description and keywords under the content box. If you don’t see them, they are not automatically included in your theme. If this is you, install the free All-in-One SEO plugin.

You Tube is a little different. If you want to stay clever in the title, you can utilize the description area on the video to highlight important information.  But, since you don’t have the additional title tag option, I recommend to use the combo approach below.

Get the best of both worlds


You can consider a compromising strategy, where you blend clever and keyword rich.

Try starting your headline with search friendly stuff, and then end it in an engaging way. Like I’ve done here:

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& here

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Or try it the opposite way.

The combo approach is also a great idea if you’ve got the branding issue we talked about above. This way you can use the branded name AND the keywords.

I personally mix things up and use combinations of the above strategies. Play around and experiment. Every business is different, so see what works for your situation.

Do you have any title examples that you can share, whether keyword rich, clever or a little of both? Feel free to leave a comment with your title and a link back to the source. Or ask for feedback on your title strategy. Meet ya there!



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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

A Website Designer August 9, 2011 at 7:08 pm

Hi Martina, great advice. I do something similar with my long tail SEO strategy. Research a keyword that brings moderate traffic and then write a blog post that uses this keyword in the title. i.e. ‘WordPress Security’ gets a few searches but it’s not a great title on it’s own, so I created a video called ‘WordPress security – keeping WordPress up to date’ which means the title tag and URL will have the words ‘Wordpress security’ but the title still makes sense. Kind of similar to what you are talking about here with a title that serves 2 purposes. Now that challenge is to use a traffic-bringing keyword, a title that explains the article and is also catchy!
A Website Designer recently posted..Strategies from small business podcasts I love


Martina August 10, 2011 at 9:00 am

That’s a great example Dan! Thanks for sharing. And a good point about the URL. That’s another area that you can manipulate to make sure it’s search engine friendly, even if you’re being super clever in your title.


Sam Thatte August 10, 2011 at 5:55 am

Martina, I did not know if I have been doing this right, until I read this article. One of my posts was titled, “How to eat a sub one bite at a time AKA How to de-clutter your slide”. Based on your article, that is one way of keeping search engines as well as readers happy. Thanks for bringing this valuable information to us!
Sam Thatte


Martina August 10, 2011 at 9:08 am

I love your title Sam! It’s definitely attention grabbing and it goes along great with your writing style. I actually went to go find the post in question, you piqued my interest so well 🙂 Click here if you wanna check it out (a very clever way of demonstrating how you should keep your power point slides clean). Thanks for stopping by!


Alison Dias-Laverty August 15, 2011 at 5:50 pm

I just started my blog in April this year so I’m still very new. I think there is so much for me to learn and after reading this post and I’m glad to have found you. Thank you for sharing so much information. Alison


Martina August 16, 2011 at 9:25 am

Great to have you here Alison! If you ever have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out.


Josie August 16, 2011 at 5:06 pm

Were both Alison and I got started blogging. I’m so thankful that there is such column you post a help to find me easier in blogging.I was blessed that i found your post…
More Power!!!
Josie recently posted..Beyonce Inspired Body Slim Down


Martina August 17, 2011 at 8:51 am

Glad it was helpful Josie!


hannamay August 23, 2011 at 6:37 am

If you go for engaging, you can still make your content search friendly by using tagging. I’d like for more post.
hannamay recently posted..Difficulty Getting Pregnant


Martina August 23, 2011 at 9:21 am

Yes, it’s nice isn’t it that there is a more practical option tucked away in the tags 🙂


Wayne Jordan September 2, 2011 at 7:32 am

Deciding on a title is a tough call, and your analysis is a good one. Another SEO consideration is bounce rate, and no matter how engaging your title is or how targeted your keywords are, your content has to be good enough to hold on to the reader.

Your content is first-rate. Thanks.
Wayne Jordan recently posted..Stop Online Plagiarism


Martina September 2, 2011 at 7:46 am

That’s a great point Wayne! Thanks for the comment 🙂


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