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
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.