Wednesday, 22 May 2013

How Important is a Good Blog Post Title in Google Search

If you're a SEO expert, you might  not want to read further. Or you might read in order to give me some pointers. I'm just learning the ropes, and thought I share it.

I feel that coming up with a good title for a blog post is a very neglected aspect of SEO (if you could call it that).

Instead of talking about the nitty gritty of the complicated inner workings of how google determines search results (which is a 6 million dollar question that everyone wants to know and subject of endless speculation), let's use an  example to illustrate how important and relevant post title is.

I have a post titled "Paris Day 4 - Axe Historique, Champs Elysee & Arc de Triomphe" (without any quotes of course). This is the link to this post. It's my diary regarding a trip to Paris. In particularly, it focuses on an architectural analysis of the Axe Historique.

When I google "axe historique" (without quotes), my post title appears on page 2.

When I google "axe historique champs elysee" (without quotes), my post title appears on page 1. The only pages above me are 4 Wikipedia pages. I'm not even trying to compete with them.

When I google "axe historique champs elysee paris" (without quotes), my post title appears on page 1. In fact on a 3rd position; only English and French wikipedia is ahead of my post.

When I google "axe historique champs elysee paris day 4" (without quotes), my post title appears on the top spot; ahead of wikipedia!

Just a few points I like to make regarding to the little experiment that sheds some light into one aspect of the mysterious process of how google ranks search result in regard to the matching of post titles to search queries.

1. The ranking of search result is applicable at the time of writing this post. It might change in the future, but it probably remain so for a little while (the web is a very fast changing place). In short, the further it's in the future, the more likely this search results will change as more and more people write about this topics. Not to mention that google might, I should say likely, to change their ranking algorithm, and it would affect these search results. An example of this google change is Panda. Also, my ranking might improve as well, which will change the relative position of my post in the search results. Still, the same principles apply, regardless of the relative location of my post in the search results.

2. With everything being equal (no change in backlinks, domain name, content, etc), this little experiment shows that how important the matching of the post title and the google search words is. The only thing that has changed is my search query. By adding "day 4" to the end, which is hardly anything significant would effect the ranking dramatically. In fact, it propels my post to the top spot.

3. So somebody might say, all I have to do is to come up with a title for a post in a smart way and I'm on the way to the top spot. Let's think about this for a minute.

The addition of "day 4" has made my post risen to the top. The reason it moves to the top is because no post title has the whole string including "day 4". The question is, who would do a search with the inclusion of "day 4"? Nobody! That's who!

The point is if somebody googles an string that matches your post title better than anyone else, chances are nobody would type in that string.

For example, if your post title is "TV repair cucumber".

If somebody googles that exact string, your post goes to the top instantly because you could be sure nobody has a post with a title like that. However, google also ties the words in your title to the content of your post. If your post has nothing to do with cucumber, I doubt it's much use. I've no proof of that. It will be another search query experiment for another post. One of these days if I'm up to it.

To put it another way, if you write a post with obscure topic, and has obscure post tile, you would rank number 1 in the search if somebody also looks for that obscure topic.

In short, write obscure, or at least unique topics that few people write. But then, few people would do a search for it. It's all boils down to the economics of supply and demand like everything else. So, just write what you like and know best. If it happens to be something obscure, even better! It's called a niche.

4. While a good post title can have a dramatic effect on google search, but it's somewhat ad-hoc. Unlike pagerank, for example, which applies to all posts, regardless of post titles. But these 2 things aren't mutually exclusive. You could work on coming up with a good post title as well as other areas of SEO.

Let me just do another experiment to illustrate about the obscure title or topic I mentioned in point 3 by searching for another of my blog post titled "Edinburgh Day 2 - Rosslyn Chapel" Remember not to include any quotes in the following queries.

When I google "rosslyn chapel", after looking through 14 pages of serps, I gave up. I couldn't find my blog post.

When I google "rosslyn chapel edinburgh", I finally found it on page 9.

When I google "rosslyn chapel Edinburgh day", its ranking unexpectedly drops further. Much further.  I couldn't find it after page 15, and gave up. This is likely because by adding "day", I bring in even more pages with higher ranking than mine. These are probably posts about "day trip tours to rosslyn chapel". So the word "day" appears in the post title.

When I google "rosslyn chapel Edinburgh day 2", it pops to the top spot from nowhere (at least beyond page 15).

This is very dramatic illustration of an exact post title match. It goes from zero to hero by adding an extra "2" at the end...

Let me make the follow observation with the above queries.

1. "Rosslyn Chapel" is a far more popular topic than "Axe Historique". This is understandable because "axe historique" is in French, and not all tourists know about it even it's a tourist sights in Paris. On the other hand, you don't have to be a tourist to know about "rosslyn chapel". Many many many articles on "rosslyn chapel" has nothing to do with tourism. It has to do with a hundred other things. In short, "rosslyn chapel" is an extremely popular topic. Trust me, I'm a blogger.

Because of the relative obscurity (meaning lower popularity) of "axe historique" as a topic, fewer posts would be written about this topics, and so my blog post get a far higher rank in the google query of "Axe Historique" than that of "Rosslyn Chapel".

Let me just throw a spanner into the works, and contradict somewhat what I just implied. My "rosslyn chapel" post is like a small fish in a big pond, while my "axe historique" post is a big fish in a small pond. Despite being a big fish, my page views for the small fish is actually higher than my big fish. Just check my "Popular Posts" on the sidebar, "rosslyn chapel" ranks higher than "axe historique".  (The relative ranking of these 2 posts have been maintained this way for awhile).  Sometimes, it's better to be in a small fish in a big pond than a big fish in a small pond. Because the big pond is more popular. Usually. Despite being a small fish, you will get noticed more in a more popular (meaning bigger) pond.

2. As low as my ranking in the google query of "Rosslyn Chapel", as soon as the query is exact match of my blog title, it rockets to the top from page 100 (I exaggerate) of google results. The dramatic increase in search results is only possible with a right matching of blog post title, and not through any other means (SEO or otherwise). So construct post title wisely. Give it the respect it deserves.

Happy Posting!


  1. Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I’ve really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. After all I’ll be subscribing to your rss feed and I hope you write again soon!

  2. Titles plays one of major role in driving traffic into your pages. To get well optimize your titles make them keyword rich and ensure the title explains what the page is about.Thanks for useful post.
    website design