Optimizing Post Titles After You Have Posted

Andy Beal today kicked off his Blog Marketing Tips For Probloggers series with an interesting look at post titles.

What Andy suggests is that you write a title to captivate or grab your readers attention, and then using the SEO Title Tag plugin, (though All in One SEO Plugin or Headspace 2 would equally work) optimize the titles further for best SEO results.

Thus you would add additional keywords and possibly change the keyword order.

This is something I have done a few times, but is not a universal strategy.

Initial Scraping and Syndication

For at least a few days after you have written a post, you are likely to receive links from scrapers and people legitimately syndicating your content. Those links are often very low quality, but all the same if they use your post title for anchor text, that is something valuable.

Initial Links From Subscribers

Subscribers often use your post title to link to you, if they can’t think of their own suitable keywords, and that is often better than them just linking random words with little or no meaning.
Having a good weighting of keywords in the post titles is fairly important right from the start.

River Of News

Blogging isn’t email marketing

In email marketing you can split test titles for your emails, segment your list etc. It is possible to do that with RSS as well, though it is rarely used technology and one of the companies I knew that offered it shut down.

50% of my readers use Google Reader now, they are reading most probably using a “river of news” rather than just headlines.

The post title isn’t all you have to work with to grab attention

Social Media

You need to decide between traffic and link value. Many Social media sites will use your post title (not the headline) for a link if the person submitting the content doesn’t adjust it manually.

In the past I have used titles that were not specific to keywords I was aiming for long term, purely for the initial traffic those posts might attract with a little controversy. Whilst that can result in lots of links (if you are insanely lucky or popular), you lose out on the anchor text… big time.

I think it is very important to have primary keywords in your initial posting, possibly with prominent positioning within the title as well.

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  1. says

    I agree with Andy that you write a title to captivate or grab your readers attention. This is the fastest way to spread articles across the net.

  2. says

    In fact if you use the All-in-one-SEOpack plugin for WordPress, you can independently create the Title, the Headline for your post and the post-slug used to create the URL before you even post. More details here

    • says

      Slugs you can change before posting without any plugin, and the All in One plugin is just one of many.

      The emphasis here was not to overlook the SEO effect of post titles even if they don’t go massively viral.

      It is really hard to get people to change their anchor text after the effect, or at least time consuming.

  3. says

    When I stared writing for blogs about 3/4 years ago it was strictly in an SEO capacity- it was how I got into blogging (more fun for about the same money and no clients).
    I really only saw a blog’s usefulness from a branding and SEO perspective and was looking for an increase in targeted traffic and higher ranking for business sites. It worked extremely well.
    I set up a couple of blogs of my own to test different strategies- mainly for keywords and search patterns and specifically long tail search results. So, I relied on keyword titles and cared very little about “interesting” titles.

    With my “money making blogs” I care about getting targeted traffic and the conversion for me is basically clicking on AdSense ad. When I have played around with catchy or eye grabbing titles traffic and CTR plummets. SEO-title tag plugins and seo-all in one solved this problem for me but I do find out of habit my titles are usually fine to stand.

    I will ALWAYS use an interesting title in social media or forums. People are blind to key word stuffed titles.

    On my blogs where I am more interested in branding or establishing someone as an expert and expanding readership loyalty, etc thoughtful titles are key. However, the title of your post is usually anchor text people will use when writing or posting about it so I will use SOME keywords. If you don’t better make sure you title is something that SCREAMS out at people i.e. controversial/funny/thought provoking

    Popping in keywords is second nature to me and I have found that it is one the HARDEST concept to get across to people who are starting out blogging.
    I have set up blogs for many people – intelligent people who appear to grasp the idea of keywords and search and then will post with titles like ” My Bad Day” , ” Update” or similar. argh.
    Figuring out keywords and how to use them is vital to a blog that needs to get found. Creating titles that are snazzy and use keywords is a skill that must be developed.

    • says

      Keywords get easier the more and more you do them. It gets really irritating at first to have to use the same two or three words again and again, but it ends up becoming a great ability to have.

      Also, I know some blogs don’t allow this, but making sure the (or any other tag) is right for normal sites is a big key, too.

  4. says

    Have you ever tried to use a little differing page name?

    e. g.
    title: Optimizing Post Titles After You Have Posted

    And remember that Matt Cutts said at an interview at Pubcon: Only the first five words of title are taken into account.

    • says

      I use custom post slugs all the time, especially when I am using longer titles.

      Not every post I write I expect to rank highly, so often I don’t worry about it.

  5. says

    Andy, good points here.

    I interviewed an expert article marketer recently and he
    said that he has a whole list of keywords he uses for article topics, headlines title etc…

    Here’s what most people should do:

    1- Write the post,
    2- Save don’t publish it
    3- Use a paid or free keyword research tool to see if the title cna be adjusted to get some long tail traffic

    4-THEN publish the post…

    Gotta have that good mix of SEO headlines that will bring in the long-tail traffic and that attention getting headlines that RSS readers will pick to read, too.

    Great post.



  6. says

    Following up on your advice, Daniel, I think it’s best to do the research on a title before you write the post. Often you will find that others have written on the same topic. This may well spark ideas on other aspects you can include in your own post.

  7. says

    Thanks for the additional perspective on the Marketing Pilgrim post. I usually end up tweaking the post title for a few hours or couple of days to make it better. I’m fascinated with the notion of changing it over time for SEO.

    When bookmarking social news, I often change the title AFTER it has already gone hot, as the purpose becomes different. Thanks again Andy. I hope this writing finds you well.

  8. says

    Goood points… also, you can check out your traffic stats and see what visitors are searching for in order to get to your site. Then use these phrases to furthermore tweak your titles. Get them what they want!

  9. says

    I am skeptical that it matters enough to worry about. Remembering that “content is king” the headline must achieve the five aims of a headline which are roughly: (1) Attract Attention (2) Invite a click (3) Inform the read as to the subject (4) summarise the story (5) contain keywords.

    The keywords are everything other than the grammatical “glue” which give the title or headline meaning – that is the verbs, nouns and adjectives (describing words). It is the verbs and nouns that people search for while the adjectives (and pronouns) give zing and flavour and a touch of long tail staying power. If the headline is a good one then by definition it is about what the article is about and if so then surely it is the best set of “key” words for the article?

    After all Google, MSN and Yahoo are in their own ways trying to create a short cut or cheat sheet for summarising human communications. What they are after is the subject of the page and that is hidden in the Verbs and Nouns (the what and the who). So one way to improve titles is to use less “pump” (“amazing”, “astounding”, “all new”, “you wouldn’t believe”) to leave more room for the subject.

    I’m probably teaching grandma to suck eggs but I’m not sure why a well crafted title would need to change…

    • says

      Lets give you guys a real life example

      My Digg Favorites Slapped By Google was at the centre of the PargeRank Updates last October, gaining ~400 unique links (as counted by Technorati and Google Blogsearch, not by Yahoo Site Explorer)

      The story headline and title were originally “Digg Favorites Slapped By Google”
      The slug was pagerank update, thus the URL has always been http://andybeard.eu/2007/10/pagerank-update.html

      A couple of days after it was published I changed the Title tag to

      “Source: Google PageRank Update October 2007 | Andy Beard – Niche Marketing”

      If you do a search for PageRank Update, that page despite 400 links doesn’t show up, my page from the 3rd round does, which had a lot less links, but gained the anchor text.

      A very long tail query lists it as 5th place

      Note those are both US based searches with personalization switched off

      This is something I have tested. The anchor text used in the links for the blog post title are more important for SEO than a later change in the Title tags.

      I should have used something like:-

      Google PageRank Update Slaps Digg Favorites

      That would have given me a similar effect with more useful links. Then again the post was slapped together in 20 minutes, so some things were not ideal, and I can use the juice in other ways.

      Remember you can always optimize linking at a later date

  10. says

    Knowing the keywords that bring people to your site is important. I did not pay attention to this initially until I started to dig deep into why my site was not attracting traffic and I finally realized that the keywords i thought were important were not. That was a wake up call.

  11. says

    I do a google search to see if someone has already used the exact same post-title I was about to use.If so, I change it a bit to make it unique for a while :) I also try to use the same words as in the post-title in the first sentence line of my blog post.

  12. says

    Usually when I’m about to write a lengthy post I try and do a little keyword research on the general topic so I can spin the title to get the most search attention.

    A lot of times my title ends up suffering because it’s not juicy enough. Editing the slug like Andy suggests will definitely help me in the future.

  13. says

    This whole seo thing is so darn intricate and time consuming.

    Andy, do you think it’s just more efficent to outsource the entire seo process? How on earth can one write articles everyday and learn the seo details without becoming overwhelmed?

  14. says

    I try and figure out what would be the best title for my post (depending on the subject) first of all and then I don’t need to bother about changing further down the line.

    However, I do sometimes find that it’s worth changing if you find that it ranks better for a phrase you never considered initially.

  15. says

    Hi Andy!
    I am a happy reader of your blog and just wanted to say hello!
    I run a Norwegian SEO company and have been optimizing websites since 1998 – almost 10 years. In Norway we call SEO for søkemotoroptimalisering. I also develop websites and really love your site :-)
    You have been bookmarked :-)

    Keep up the great work!


  16. says

    Right, titles should be short and sweet. Just like Keep It Simple and Stupid. Also, making sure your biggest keywords are in the title is often overlooked and important for speed readers.


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