Titles; The Importance, The Sublime, And The So What…

Well, I think I’ve milked enough out of writing my 1,500th post, thus it’s time to get back to ordinary business. In this case, the topic is based off a comment that post received that, initially I wasn’t necessarily happy with, but in retrospect I realized that it’s a word I’ve mentioned in 859 articles but a topic I’ve never written on; see, there’s always something new to address. And this is that post.


fliegender via Compfight

You’d think this would be a simple thing to come to an agreement with; write a compelling title and all is right with the world. Truthfully, that’s not always the case.

Some of the most compelling titles in history have led to some of the biggest arguments. If you want to see compelling titles, check out news stories on the internet and in newspapers. Something not often known is that writers almost never put titles on their articles. So, they might write a piece on one thing only to have an editor decide it needs a punchy title to drive people to it, even if the title has nothing to do with the article, or has something to do with the article that’s on the fringe.

At the other end, sometimes the titles make no sense, or are so ethereal that you’re left pondering their meaning or relationship to the story. For instance, a book I enjoyed called Torpedo Juiceicon had only one reference in the book to the title, that being a drink that this one particular bar made. It had nothing to do with the story but I spent a lot of the book making sure I hadn’t missed the reference. And you can think of a book like To Kill A Mockingbirdicon and possibly miss the reference in that story, yet overall it has nothing to do with what’s going on.

Still, titles can be very important. When I wrote my first book on leadership I initially titled it The Mitchell Principles Of Management because I’m horrible on titles in general, was worse back then, and I thought that a business book needed a business title. Even though it’s self published, one publisher did write me and tell me that it needed a better title, one that might get someone to actually pick it up since they didn’t know me, thus Embrace The Lead was born, even though it took probably 3 months to come up with a title. Man, that’s a lot of work!

This brings us back to the main question, which is just how important are titles anyway? My response… depends…

First, here are some major points to consider:

* Are you writing a story or an article, such as a blog post? If you’re writing a “how-to” then the title is important to let people know what you’re teaching them. If you’re writing a story about an encounter with aliens from another planet the skies the limit.

* Are you looking to be honest or just get people to come? Back in the day people who gave advice on writing titles for blogs said to put in words like “the secret to” or “the real story behind” and junk like that because humans love scandal, and of course that’s really true. But if the post doesn’t live up to the title, aren’t you the reader dismayed? Then we have titles of 3 of my latest posts, which I’m not linking to but you know where to find them: 5 More Android Apps I Recommend, 10 Social Media/Networking Don’ts In 2 Minutes, and Driving More Visitors To Your Blog; Are You Ready For The Work? True, honest titles but are they compelling?

* What are you hoping others will do if they read your article or post? If you’re hoping to drive visitors to consume and comment on your missives, that’s pretty cool. If you’re hoping they’ll share with others, compelling is nice but what’s more important is just how long is your title? Some titles are so long that trying to share them on social media platforms can be troublesome. For that matter, your putting them on social media is troublesome. Then again, it would certainly make you different and possibly stand out.

Lisa Lee Marie @ Formula D Irwindale Round 7 "Title Fight"
Charles Siritho via Compfight
here’s the “so what” of the post lol

Seems like I’m all over the place doesn’t it? Just had to get all that stuff out of the way first. So, onto titles and recommendations. As I said earlier, I think I’m the worst at titles, but that’s because I don’t sit around spending time trying to think of something outrageous to title anything I write. But if I did, these would be some recommendations:

1. If you write a how-to, it must be in the title.

This one should make a lot of sense. If you’re teaching someone how to build a birdhouse, tell them that instead of using something cute.

2. If you’re writing a review type scenario, that needs to be in the title.

Once again, tell people what they’re getting… but please, PLEASE, don’t use scam in the title unless worded properly.

3. If there’s an overall theme that keeps popping up throughout your tale, that should go in the title.

This one’s a bit dicey because, like the fictional books above, those were pretty much one liners. For blogging, and of course the stupid search engines, it works best if you help them help you drive visitors to your site.

4. Don’t play with the audience’s emotions. If you use a misleading title as clickbait you might get visitors but they’ll leave and never come back.

That’s all I’ve got. If you have any further ideas on your beliefs about titles, go for it. Onward and upward!

(the link with the light blue line denotes an affiliate link if you’d like to check out the book)
 

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SEO Your Blog; Two Quick Fixes

Man, sometimes I feel really stupid. I’ve been missing something for a long time that I’m betting some of you know, but most of you are also missing. As a matter of fact I just took a quick sample and it seems that some of you knew about this, but aren’t doing it right, and the majority don’t have it right at all. Well, that’s what I’m here for. What am I talking about?

SEO Your Blog

SEO for your blog, of course; didn’t you read the title? Here’s the thing. Many people talk about proper SEO tactics for your blog and they get into talking about your content, keywords, etc. I’ve been on record in saying that it’s rare that I get into doing all that much SEO when it comes to my posts. When I write, I write, and I rarely go backwards I’ve always figured that my content will eventually speak for itself.

But I’ve missed some important concepts of SEO for my blog, something I’ve actually never paid any attention to, that suddenly hit me last night and, dagnabbit, I wanted to slap myself silly. I’ve lost 3 years on this, and now I’m ready to capture my traffic, the search engines, and watch this baby flourish! I’m going to tell you what I’ve done, then I’m going to tell you how I did it.

Yeah, yeah, I hear you, get to the point. Okay, a quick SEO lesson on how search engines begin looking through webpages. They start with the Title, which is the area at the top of your browser that says what your site is all about. If you’re going to do it properly, what you want to have at the top is what your website is about, then the name of your blog. You don’t want any “stop words” or “stop symbols”; these are things like “and”, “the”, and, well, symbols. You never start with the name of your website or blog unless it’s what your site is all about because if people already know your name then you don’t ever have to worry about titles, or even being found on search engines, to begin with.

What did mine say? It used to say “I’m Just Sharing”, which is the name of this blog. Do you think anyone was out there on the search engines searching for that? Nope. What does it say now? It says “Blogging Writing Social Media – I’m Just Sharing“. That’s what it should have said all along. Now it begins with what I mainly write about on this blog. Now the search engines will scan my title, then be able to match up my content with it; nice start.

But that’s my title page. What about all the other pages? Initially, after the first change, all my other pages said that same exact thing. Not the worst thing in the world, but it’s not proper SEO & it doesn’t always work. For instance, when I write my diabetes posts none of what’s in the title is going to help there. What shows up for each article as my Title now? Whatever the name of my post is, that’s what. That’s what I decided to go with, but one doesn’t have to stick with that. However, since for the most part my titles do indicate what I’m going to talk about (like this post, for instance), I think I’m good.

Okay, how did I make the change? By using the All In One SEO plugin, a plugin I beat up on for a couple of years until I learned how to upgrade my server to PHP 5.0 and had it suddenly start doing some of what it was supposed to do. I haven’t fully used it correctly until last night, and now it’s going to help this blog grow; I just know it will.

The first thing I did was change the Home Title to what you see above in quotation marks; that’s what now shows in the Title area. If you decide to hit Save at that point your home title will change and you’ll at least have that taken care of. But that’s not all you want to do.

The next stage, of course, is to fill in the next two boxes for your home description and keywords. Your home description should be what your blog is about, as that’s what will show up on Google if someone is searching for your topic, so either say something, like a line or two, or just type in more words, which will look kind of odd on Google as a description but hey, it’s up to you. In the keywords of course type in some of what you do. This is kind of “meta” like, which search engines don’t exactly look at anymore (actually they don’t look at it at all according to them, but go with me), but it helps the plugin do things for you that you might not want to do for yourself later on. Anyway, once you’ve done that then you need to check the box next to “Rewrite Titles”.

That’s it. Now, every one of your posts will have the title you’ve given for your post as the Title that will show at the top of the browser, the one that Google’s going to be checking out. Leave everything else there the same unless you really understand it all; everything’s pretty set, except for some of the boxes you might want to check or uncheck underneath.

For instance, I really don’t understand the concept of Canonical URLs all that much, even though I read about it, so I left that checked. Further down, I have checked to use Tags for Meta Keywords, which I’ve seen come across here and there through Google Alerts, told it to generate keywords for post pages, and told it to use noindex for my Archives, though I’ll have to think about that one a little bit more. My thought on it is that if everything else is SEO’ing itself properly it might be overkill having it coming through the Archives as well; search engines might not appreciate that too much, as it might seem spammy.

The only thing to finish talking about is when you’re actually writing your post you need to know that you have the option of overriding what you’ve told the plugin to do automatically for your title and description. I rarely change the title, though I’ve seen some people do it, but sometimes I add a specific description, otherwise Google will use the first few words of your post as the description. For someone like me that likes to introduce things in kind of a story form, that’s not the best lead-in for me all the time.

So, I’ve just helped you learn how to SEO your blog better, and trust me, it’ll go much quicker than all this stuff I just wrote. Good luck!

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