Buried in the code of every web page is an HTML tag containing the title of the work. That title should appear across the top of your web browser as well. Even now, the very page you are reading has a title we assigned to it for very specific reasons. It was chosen in the knowledge that a title can make or break an online article.
What do we mean by that? Well, consider the purpose behind publishing online articles. The average website owner does so in order to accomplish three things: increase search engine rankings, drive traffic to his/her website and provide some sort of useful, relevant information. Whether or not a specific article succeeds is very measurable in terms of these three goals. All three are intrinsically tied to the title.
The Purpose of Titles
Think back to when you were a young person learning how to write essays in school. If you are over the age of 30, you may have had a teacher who insisted you should begin your essay by writing the title first. The title, you were told, should be interesting and exciting enough to engage the interest of the individual and compel him or her to read the rest of the text. Without a good title, there would be no interest.
This philosophy of title writing has been the standard for generations. In fact, the BBC’s Martin Asser insists that journalists are still taught about constructing titles using this same philosophy. However, as Asser explains, the old way of writing titles does not work well in the Internet age. Today’s online world needs something completely different.
Where an online article is concerned, a title still needs to be compelling enough to get you to read. The title we chose for this article is designed to do just that. We set the hook by beginning with the word ‘how’, then piqued your interest with the possibility of ‘making or breaking’ your online article. The fact that you are reading this article demonstrates the title worked – at least to some extent. Nevertheless, there is more to it than that.
Getting you to read this article only accounts for the third goal on our previous list. What about the other two? Improving your search engine ranking and driving traffic to your site are also intrinsically tied to your title. To understand how, let us take a look at Google’s standards for title construction. We use these standards simply because Google is the dominant search engine on the Internet. What it decides is what goes.
Google Title Standards
Google and the other search engines use automated spiders to search and index websites. Trust us when we say that a piece of computer software can show no interest or disinterest in reading your online article. All it is looking for is data that it can use to determine the quality and relevance of a web page in relation to similar pages.
Where the title is concerned, Google specifically states that their search algorithm uses the information in this tag to determine what an article is about. For example, our title tells the Google algorithm that the topic of this article is writing titles. However, the algorithm simply has a ‘hunch’ when it first reads the title tag in the code. It then compares the words in the title to the entirety of the text to ensure the hunch is correct.
What does this suggest? It suggests a couple of things. First and foremost, the title of any online article should clearly explain what the article is about. Second, the title and the text of the article should agree in their basic premise. And third, a title should include at least one of the keywords the writer will be using throughout the text. The combination of these three things tells the search engine that the article in question is indeed what it is supposed to be.
This makes for a happy Google, which, in turn, will contribute to higher page rankings for the chosen keywords. When search engine rankings are improved, more traffic is driven to the website as a result.
So now you know how a title can make or break an online article. It is more than just catching the eye of the reader; it is also about catching Google’s eye as well. When both your readers and Google view your article positively, you will get the results you are looking for.
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