Updated: Jun 4
It was only March 19 – a mere two months ago – that I asked the question of “How important is SEO for the website you now have time to build?”
For those of you who don’t know, SEO stands for search engine optimization. It’s a royal pain in the neck for anyone who doesn’t have a big business or big bucks.
Big business or big bucks helps you to buy off Google and other search engines in some way, shape or form. I’m not saying you necessarily have to pay them directly for your website, article, or blog post to show up on the first page of a keyword-specific search.
(Though I’m not entirely convinced that isn’t true.)
It’s more that you don’t have the resources necessary to pay someone to stay on top of SEO changes. That’s why I concluded this on the previously mentioned post:
I know I’m going out on a professional limb here, but I don’t see how SEO really works in your favor. Not unless:
1. You’ve got a ton of money to hire someone to do it all for you. 2. You’re dealing with an obscure topic.
With that said… if you’re determined to try to use it to your advantage anyway, we’re tackling SEO tips in titles today. You never know.
What you learn below might actually land you on Page 1.
If that last line didn’t sound all that enthusiastic, that’s because it wasn’t supposed to be. But hey, a writer can dream, right?
So here’s what I recently learned in a Forbes SEO-specific webinar for its content creators…
If you want any chance of showing up in someone’s search for what you’re writing about, make sure your titles are no more than 70 characters long. The last time I looked into the subject – the last time I cared about it – I read that titles should be eight words or less.
But now that’s apparently changed. Again.
(Incidentally, many major news sites run intensely long headlines these days. Hence one of the many reasons I find the whole thing extremely suspicious.)
This is allegedly because search engines only bother to read the first 70 characters of your title in deciding where it should rank. There’s only so much all-powerful computer-run algorithms can handle, after all.
They also don’t show anything more than those 70 characters on their results pages. So your long, long title might be reduced to ellipses at the end…
Which may or may not cut it off at a decent spot.
Don’t sacrifice necessary words in your effort to keep your titles short and sweet though. And by necessary words, I mean articles, conjunctions, prepositions and such: those parts of speech that might not give the sentence meaning but still smooth it out.
For example, writing, “Get Your Ducks, Doves in a Row” instead of “Get Your Ducks and Doves in a Row.”
It’s true that search engines don’t process “and.” But imagine that your title does manage to get noticed.
You’ve reached the SEO state of Shangri-La!
Except that doesn’t mean anyone automatically clicks on it. Do you really think they’re going to go with your clunky-sounding post versus something that sounds articulate?
Possibly. But probably not.
Now, if you can avoid using words like “and” without sounding odd, then go for it. But your bottom-line rule should be this: If you’d be embarrassed to write it in your article, you shouldn’t write it in your title either.
In other words, stay classy with how you present yourself.
And if you care to keep learning more about how you might possibly be able to manipulate SEO in your favor, stay tuned.
There’s more to come.
Editor’s Note: Read the next post on title-writing SEO tips here.