Write Clear Titles

From D. Keith Robinson’s Web Publishing Tip: Write Clear Titles:

One of the easiest & best things you can do when publishing on the Web is to write clear, meaningful titles for your posts, pages and articles. Then, once you’ve written that title, put it into your title tag.

Great advice (except for the part about putting the text in the title tag, which makes me want to mention my recent post HTML tags vs. elements vs. attributes - hope you don’t mind, Keith ;-) ).

I used to make the mistake of thinking up cute titles for my posts. Fun, perhaps, but not likely to make people find what you’ve written.

There’s still plenty of room for me to improve, but these days at least I try to think about - and use - what someone looking for information on the topic I am writing about might enter in Google’s search field or look for while scanning through a list of posts in their feed reader.

Posted on September 15, 2005 in Quicklinks

Comments

  1. This also applies to naming your script/CSS trick. I am sure that many an email and forum post could have been spared if Flash Satay would have been called “Embedding Flash in XHTML pages”.

  2. Great advice (except for the part about putting the text in the title tag, which makes me want to mention my recent post HTML tags vs. elements vs. attributes - hope you don’t mind, Keith ;-) ).

    hmmmm… why do you say that? he did mean the title tag, in the head of the document. not the title attribute. (at least that’s how i read it. :P)

    Or were you refering to other people misunderstanding his “title tag”?

  3. September 15, 2005 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Chris: Hehe, yeah it sure would have made it a lot more findable.

    andr3: What Keith means is the title element. The text won’t be very useful inside the tag, will it? ;-) I don’t think too many will misunderstand him. I’m just in nitpick mode, hehe.

  4. No need for dropping cute titles if you have good ideas there. Just do not use them in the TITLE element or in the first level heading, but use them as a subtitle.

  5. @Roger:

    LoL ok ok. :) I see what you mean now.

  6. Digital Point’s keyword suggestion tool is a great way to fine tune your post headings and page titles so that they tie more closely with what people are searching for.

    I regularly check it as part of my publication process.

  7. I agree “smart” titles are a good thing. But only for certain people.

    How do YOU find blog posts? If the site isn’t a regular read it’ll probably be through searching?? If so then the title only plays a small part in the location of your post.

    The title is of more use to those perusing archives and whatnot. I discussed this on my site not that long ago and have since made a bit more of an effort to write meaningful titles.

    But then I guess it depends on how seriously you take your site! ;-)

  8. It’s a good point, although for the humans reading it the fun posts add interest. I think Lars’ idea about using a combination of the two is good. I have actually used that approach for a few presentations (albeit the other way around, with the dry version as the subtitle).

    The interesting name gets people in, the subtitle can explain exactly what is covered.

  9. I always figured if you can get away with cleverness (along with euphemisms and double meanings) then go for it. Otherwise, just write 2 - 6 words on what the heck you’re talking about. Most often, it’s the later, but why not try and go for double meanings. It makes it fun for both your users and search engines.

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