Don't optimize article titles for search engines alone

There’s an article in today’s New York Times which claims that journalists are now writing their article headlines with search engines, not human readers, in mind!

The search-engine “bots” that crawl the Web are increasingly influential, delivering 30 percent or more of the traffic on some newspaper, magazine or television news Web sites. And traffic means readers and advertisers, at a time when the mainstream media is desperately trying to make a living on the Web.

This is sounds like a really bad idea in my humble opinion – sure you need to bear search engines in mind when writing articles and titles but don’t let them dictate your post titles to you completely. Why? Sure you need to be listed in search engine results – but you also need a human reader of the results to click on your link. If your title is a really boring title designed solely to attract search engines, no-one will click through to read the article and your search engine optimisation is in vain.

4 thoughts on “Don't optimize article titles for search engines alone”

  1. I’d also say you can extend this logic to all your content, there’s no point have #1 spot in google and then finding your potential customers cannot understand or dislike your content because of frequent keyword use.

    Theres no harm in having a list of keywords you want to focus on, but the content should drive keyword use, not keywords driving the content.

  2. In additon, keyword stuffing and focusing on chosen keywords only doesn’t work very well. My own example: I wanted to improve my rankings for the term A. So I acquired links, added that term into my article several times and waited for the result.

    3 months later: My rankings for the term A improved from top20 to 8-th position in Google. Not bad, but my effort was worth more.

    What’s my point? I got 1-st position for the term B (for the same article) even though I did NOTHING in order to improve my rankings for that phrase. I count on that Google determined my effort (for the term A) to be suspicious, but no effort for the term B is taken as normal, so I went up to the top.

    One small detail: The term A and B have 1 common word.

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