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Search Engine Friendly Titles – a Simple Way to Optimize your Articles and Blogposts

Updated on May 29, 2013

Probably one of the most important, if not the most important, factor in ranking well in search engines is a good, keyword rich title. I have discovered a simple way to add more keywords to the title, and at the same time, informing search engine users what your article, blogpost, hub or lens is really about. It is also a simple way to optimize the keyword density of your titles.

In the titles of your content, start adding subtitles by adding a hyphen (-) after the title, which should be a generic one. For example, if you have a geography article about, say the USA, your title should be made up of two sections: the generic key phrase, and followed by the niche key terms.

  1. Regarding the generic phrase, try to make it short, but recognizable. After all, you do not want your whole title to be way to long. In our example, use USA. People will know what USA stands for. Do not use the phrase US, peoples, as well as search engine spiders, may confuse it with the word us (you and me). Also, do not use “United States of America”, as it will make your whole article (together with the niche words, which will follow this generic phrase) way too long. If you use the word “America” it reflects North America (Canada and the US), so if USA is your topic, do not use the word “America” either. Furthermore, the word “Americas” refer to North America, Central America, and South America all together; that would be way too generic.
  2. After you have selected a good recognizable, yet short general keyword, it is now time to add your nice keywords. Make sure that the order of the key phrases in the title reflects the order of the sections in your article, post, etc. Of course, do not overdo it either. Add only up to four subtitles, or the search engines will consider it spam, which will have an opposite effect, your article will sink down in the search engine result pages (SERPs). Remember, search engines, especially Google, are all about providing useful, relevant results to their users. In our example you could say, for example, “- a Geography, History, Climate and Economy”.

So the whole title in our example would look like this:

USA – a Geography, History, Climate and Economy

Said all this, it must go without saying, that you should write, quality original content; a good title without a good, and useful article body is worth nothing.


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    • Csanad profile image

      Csanad 7 years ago from Budapest, Hungary

      Thank You Gameboy for your in depth analysis. After I have modified my titles what happened was that my search engine (most notably Google) traffic jumped, and then sank back down, but the "new traffic" is still somewhat higher than the original (for the long hubs). It might my something to do with Hubpages, I guess.

    • Gameboy70 profile image

      Gameboy70 7 years ago from Santa Monica, California

      I have to respectfully disagree with just about all of this. I'm a content analyst by trade, and a large part of my job is creating search optimized titles--20 titles a day. In addition to my own titles, I've seen the analytics for all of our division's articles, which includes not only my own titles but my coworkers'. So I'm seen just about every titling strategy there is, as well as what works and what doesn't.

      One thing that's absolutely been clear from reviewing different titling methods is that titles beginning with a keyword followed by a hyphen or colon don't perform as well, in terms of clickthrough rate, as titles where the keyword is embedded in a grammatically fluid phrase.

      In other words, a title like "Digital Cameras - 6 Features to Look for" will not perform as well as "6 Features to Look for in Digital Cameras", even though the keyword isn't front loaded. When humans read titles like the first example, they have to parse multiple phrases to grasp the meaning of them. This only takes a split second, but it still takes longer to integrate than the single-phrase version.

      Titles should be under 66 characters, after which they cut off with ellipses, resulting in a lower clickthrough rate. Google allows for 80 characters, but only the first 65 of them will be displayed.

      Instead of assuming how Google will parse keywords like "US", "USA" or "America", you should enter your primary keyword in the Google Keyword Tool and let Google show you the popular geographic long tails, or at least use the Google search suggestions (i.e. the autocomplete function when you enter a search). For instance, when I type "jobs in the u" into Google, the most popular autocompletion is "jobs in the us", not "jobs in the usa". Google's algorithms are actually much better at disambiguating intent than might be assumed. Google won't mistake "us" in the phrase "the us" for "you and me". Google will almost never intepret the singular version of "America", when not preceded by "North" or South", as a common generic for "the Americas"; the results you get back will be US-specific (at least they are in the US-based data center where my Google results come from).