Monday, January 5, 2015

Choosing a Title

The title of your blog post serves a number of very important purposes, so it must be chosen with care.  Your title is your first tool for attracting readers and search engine results.  It begins the process of introducing you to your readers, of developing credibility, and showing off your professionalism and focus.  In most blogging platforms the post title also becomes part of the URL for each specific blog post.  The title is also the main part of your post that will be indexed by search engines; so not only does it need to be designed for human thought processes, it needs to be designed for search engines as well. 

For the purpose of search engine ranking and results, the shorter and more focused the title the better.  The virtual tools that search engines use to index blog posts prefer shorter titles, and they are a lot more accurate when they have fewer words to index.  Search engines also give shorter URL’s more importance than long ones.  So a short title, which results in a shorter URL, will help your search ranking.  Thus, the short and focused title will help deliver readers who are looking for the information you are sharing.   Readers, lots of them,  are what every blogger hopes their posts will attract!  Great search engine ranking and targeted results are good strategies for attracting readers.

When thinking of readers, one must consider the post title a promise.  The title is a promise about the focus of your post, and a promise about the information and documentation you have gathered for the readers' education and use.  You are making a promise, and if you keep that promise, you earn your readers trust.  If you tell them with your title that your post is on ‘Wooden Buttons from Jakarta’ (to use the example from our previous post) and then you actually follow through with a post on wooden buttons from Jakarta, they learn that you deliver on your promises.  And that begins the process of building trust with your readers, as well as your credibility as a blogger.  On the other hand, if your title promises ‘Wooden Buttons from Jakarta,’ and instead you veer off your focus entirely, no one who came to your post to learn about those specific buttons is likely to visit your blog again.  You have not only broken your promise, but you have destroyed the possibility of developing trust and credibility, and lost the opportunity to turn a casual visitor into a regular reader.

Your title is important for many reasons.  It is not more important than what you deliver in your post, but it is just as important.  In the editing process, we must consider the marriage between title and post, and be willing to change the title if necessary.  Always keep in mind that a short title is better than a long one, that the title must appeal to both search engines and human minds, and that it is a promise to your readers about what your blog post will deliver.


Our steps continue to develop:  

1.   Imagine your audience.
2.   Ask what they need to know first.
3.   Draft your post, putting first things first, remembering your focus, and checking facts and collecting sources as you go.
4.    Make certain that you have adequately introduced the people you are quoting, paraphrasing, or discussing, and that you are prepared to make necessary hyperlinks.
5.    Read and reread your draft, cutting, revising, and rewriting as necessary; with an eye and ear out to maintain your focus.
6.    Seek constructive criticism from someone who is either a member of your audience or who understands them. Be clear with your helper about your focus.
7.    Rewrite as necessary.
8.    Repeat steps six and seven until you have it dialed in. 
9.    Check the marriage of the promise offered by your title to what you actually deliver in your article, and rework your title as necessary.
10.   Gather any additional needed documentation for establishing or maintaining your credibility.
11.  Stay tuned.  More tips are forthcoming.

Questions and constructive criticism welcome!


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