Shakespeare’s Juliet questioned the importance of titles when she said,
"What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."
When it comes to blogging, however, a name can take on quite a bit of importance. "Father of advertising" David Ogilby often talked about the important of headlines for marketing pieces. In fact, Ogilby had a five-point "acid test" for headlines:
- Did it make me gasp?
- Do I wish I’d thought of it?
- Is it unique?
- Does it fit my strategy?
- Can it be used for thirty years?
I’m not sure we need to apply the thirty-year test to blogs, but titles of blog posts are highly important, for some of the reasons Ogilby had in mind as well as some new ones that apply uniquely to Web marketing For one thing, as I keep emphasizing in my Say It For You blog posts, online searchers tend to be scanners rather than readers, and, even if (through the "miracle" of search engine optimization), you get found, you may not get read unless your headline makes them cry "Bingo!"
Key words and phrases in the title of blog posts help introduce searchers to providers of exactly the kind of information and services they need. As blog maven Ted Demopoulos puts it, "Search engines assume that if text is in the title, it must be important."
Harking back to Ogilby wisdom, however, you’ve gotta admit SEO-friendly titles are not nearly enough to make you gasp-and-wish-you’d-thought-of-them. But, at the very least, titles have got to make searchers want to learn more of what you have to say.
It’s interesting that, at the back of Ted Demopoulos’ book What No One Ever Tells You About Blogging and Podcasting, there’s a section on Internet Resources, listing several dozen blogs he’s recommending.
Out of those, I picked out some "ho-hummer" titles (despite the fact that each title quite accurately describes what to expect from that blog post, I wasn’t very excited about reading further).
- "Comments – Essential To Blogs?"
- "Blogging Platforms and Blogging Software"
- "A Blog As a Web Portal"
Then, I picked out three that I thought were real "grabbers":
- "Passion, Profit, and MyYawp"
- "It’s All an Experiment"
- "Friday Squid Blogging"
(You’ll notice that only the third title uses the key words "blog" or "blogging".)
So, would that which we call a blog by any other name smell as sweet?
Somewhere in between optimizing with search terms and causing searchers to gasp in curiosity and amazement lies the answer….