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Create Search Engine Optimized Great Article Titles

If you want to reach the maximum possible number of online readers, it's essential that you create titles that are not only search engine friendly but search engine smart.

People may find your articles by looking for your writings, or when your relatives and friends refer them. But besides that first dozen readers, if you want hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands of readers, you need to create titles that actually tell the reader what your article is about.

I can't tell you, as an editor-in=chief, publishing over 1000 articles a month, how many obscure, meaningless titles I see come into the queue. Often, the writer has spent hours or days working hard on creating an superb article, then, as an afterthought, with minimal effort or conscious thought, drops a title on it-- a title that can literally slash the potential number of readers by 50 or even 90%. If you have a great, SEO article, it will also have a better chance of being headlined.

Good articles tell you, as soon as you look at them, what the article is about. Great articles tell you what the article is about, get your emotions churned and rouse your interest.

The most winning articles use key words, the most important key words first.

I learned about the power of titling early on in my writing career and even sold a cover article to Writers Digest, titled, "How to Generate Hundreds of Salable Ideas," which focused, to a large extent, on coming up with article titles.

Look at titling from an editor's perspective. Here, articles are submitted to a queue which often sees 40-80 new articles coming in every day. Editors go to the queue and decide which articles to evaluate. I can tell you that the title is one of the most important factors editors use in deciding which article to check out. A weak title can languish for days if no editor chooses to evaluate it. Eventually, someone gets to it, but that's just the beginning. If an article is published with a weak title, there's a good chance it will not be headlined and ultimately, will fail to attract the readers a good title could have attracted.

It may be tempting to use a cute turn of a phrase but such titles are usually a real negative when it turns to affecting the chances you'll get lots of readers.
Here are some titles that don't cut it as search engine optimized:
Say it ain't so.
These are choices
Just Thinking Out Loud
Why did this happen?


Now, here's a title that did well, that is not search engine optimized.
"It's Not Going to Be Okay."

The reason this article did well is because it is written by a famous writer, Chris Hedges, and it was headlined. But don't think, if you're not famous, that your obscure title will do well. Editors are less likely to headline obscure titles that don't tell what the article is about and readers are less likely to click on them-- if they ever see them. Remember, because the title is not SE optimized, it probably won't show up on Google or other searches.

The best way to title an article is to tell what the article is about and to use the key words that someone doing a Google or yahoo or other search engine would use.

If you've written an article on the failure of one Republican to vote for the financial rescue legislation, discussing the lack of bi-partisanship, then use those terms:

Republican Bipartisan Failure in House Financial Rescue Vote

It's not sexy, but it uses all the keywords. This could double or quadruple the hits you get from google news, technorati or wherever people search.

Want to make it sexier? Try something like "BiPartisan Bombs In House Financial Rescue Vote"

Here's a good way to systematically develop a good title AND plan for the key words you'll use to tag the article.

Start making a list of keywords that tag the article. Put them in relevance order. If you could only use one key word, which would that be? Then list the rest of the keywords in relevance order.

Some SEO experts believe that Google looks at the beginning of a title, in determining ranking. If "Bipartisan" is the most relevant word in your article, then it should be at the beginning of the article. If "financial rescue" is the most relevant key word/phrase, then THAT should be at the start of the title.

When you're coming up with a title, if you can also add mystery, promise, emotion and/or threat, that's even better. But all those other extras will never be seen if the search engine doesn't find your article because the title fails to use the essential keywords.

I can't tell you, as an editor-in=chief, publishing over 1000 articles a month, how many obscure, meaningless titles I see come into the queue. Often, the writer has spent hours or days working hard on creating an superb article, then, as an afterthought, with minimal effort or conscious thought, drops a title on it-- a title that can literally slash the potential number of readers by 50 or even 90%. If you have a great, SEO article, it will also have a better chance of being headlined.

Good articles tell you, as soon as you look at them, what the article is about. Great articles tell you what the article is about, get your emotions churned and rouse your interest.

The most winning articles use key words, the most important key words first.

Keep in mind that I'm talking about article titles designed for online search engine optimization (SEO.) It's a whole different ball game if you're working on a book title. But that's a different conversation.

Now, this article is not at all complete. I am certain that there is much more wisdom on the web, about creating brilliant titles that max out readership. There is no doubt that other strategies for creating killer titles are easily found. That's the beauty of an article site that includes comments. YOU the reader become part of the equation. I'm hoping that the advice in the comments far exceeds the value of my "priming the article title idea pump."

BTW, if you are not a writer who contributes to OpEdNews.com, and you just happened to find this article, please DO consider posting or crossposting articles of all sorts here. We love new writers, especially ones who know how to create great titles.

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