Why Clever Post Titles Are Killing Your Blog

I had recently had the opportunity to sit down with a blogging client and help her improve her blog’s design. She had all the writing talent and content of a major blogger, but lacked the technical insight that can only be gained through years in the blogosphere.

This person is my mom and I gave her 10 hours of blog consulting as part of my Christmas present.

After looking at 5-10 blog posts of hers, I realize several trends within how her posts were titled that I though could help the audience here from the standpoint of SEO, branding and long-term promotion.

Not Understandable For a Wide Audience

If you’re like me, when you start a blog find your maneuvers rather clever. It’s all so fun and while in the learning stages you really can do no wrong. A title that only you and a few friends will understand? Too cool to pass up. A title that rhymes? Superb. An inside joke or a quote from a famous movie? Smashing.

Wait up.

There’s a problem here, and it is that these clever titles often don’t relate to a wide audience, meaning:

  1. Your titles won’t make ANY sense to LOTS of potential fans
  2. Your titles don’t explain the post to GOOGLE or PEOPLE

Clever titles are something we all try, and I could dig up 20 examples on my older blogs. And yes, they are fun. But if you’re creating a blog to be popular, show off your literary work, or build some form of income you have to get over you cleverness.

Clever titles really can kill a blog and leave you wondering why that other blog is so successful and yours is not.


As I said clever titles mean very little to Google and are therefore not too clever at attracting long-term traffic through the search engines. The solution here is that clever titles only work when they also contain words that explain your post to a wider audience.

Let’s see some examples of how to massage our clever titles into SEO titles too.

“Why Clever Post Titles are Killing Your Blog” Tweet this quote!

Use 2-Part Titles Instead (For SEO and Branding)

Titles with SEO and branding are the best in terms of attracting long-term growth and reader appreciation. Honestly, I would choose the SEO title if I had to only chose one sort of title, but in today’s literary world we can do both.

Let’s pick apart some post titles around this blog, for lack of a better example:

How Blogs Fail to Get Traffic

In this post from 2012, the words within the phrase “get traffic blog” are very SEO friendly meaning they are heavily searched in Google. The “fail” part of it is for branding and memorability’s sake. No one is searching “blog fail” in Google unless hey are searching for failblog.org, which would yield a negative match for this blog, which I don’t want.

Move From Blogger to WordPress – Start to Finish Migration!

In this migration tutorial, the words “move blogger wordpress” are the SEO terms as well as the word “migration” while “start to finish” is the branding component I added so people know it’s a complete sort of walk-through and not just someone talking.

How To Make a WordPress Website in 10 Minutes

Numbers can also be used for your branding and make for excellent title additions if you do it right. You probably get the picture, but “make wordpress website” is the SEO portion here, while “10 minutes” is the branding addition. Both pieces add value to a post title. If you’re wondering how to craft a post title with numbers in it, think about numbers other folks will find attractive given the particular situation at hand (higher $$ are good, lower time limits, etc).

“How to add both SEO and branding to your blog titles” Tweet this quote!

What You Can Do to Fix Titles

The bottom line is that writing titles that are clever to you but don’t adequately explain your content will hurt your long term growth both in the search engines and with real people.

You can probably understand this in full by thinking of posts you read on other blogs. How and why would you read a post labeled by a clever title you don’t understand? You really could not read this post.

The posts we read the most are direct for the SEO while being branding, but brief in their branding.

Assuming you want a growing audience you should add a SEO portion to every posts (and page, for that matter) title you write.

You can add SEO to your post titles by:

  • Inserting 3-5 useful keywords
  • Simply explaining the content
  • Anticipating what people are searching for in the future right around your niche

You can add branding points to your post titles by:

  • Using accurate numbers or numerical figures
  • Using dashes and semi-colors to separate parts of the title
  • Adding words which catch people’s attention, like “fail” or adding words that simply please the reader

If you read this post, I’d hope you can better understand the rationale the big bloggers are using in their titles, as well as the strategy behind titles on other channels like big sites and YouTube videos.

Using a bit of blog post strategy within your posts (and you can also do this within headers in a post) is crucial to positioning your blog for long-term, effortless growth from the search engines.

How Are Your Titles?

What titles are you scheming up for your next post? Drop an idea or two in the comments and hopefully we can help you discover the perfect title!

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7 Responses to "Why Clever Post Titles Are Killing Your Blog"

  1. I just want to add this after reading your post, as I read different blogs, the most engaged blogs are those with How to’s, Questions, Ways/Tips/Tricks and Listicles on their blog title. I always love to click those blogs and I’m always curious about the content.

  2. This is the first article I read in 2015. 🙂

    Quite an interesting article. I don’t know which button you pushed in my mind but I was curious to read the content.

    Like you, I also did many mistakes in blogging when I started 3 years back. I didn’t know how to choose best title and how to frame them for better CTR.

    The point you discussed here are making good sense because writing content vs writing with SEO titles can make a huge difference in your business.

    Thanks for putting the idea together and making it easily understandable.

    And best wishes for your mom’s blog. 🙂

    1. Happy to be included at all in your daily article reading. It seems from your Facebook updates that you will be doing Reading and Research (the new blogging R&R) a lot in 2015 🙂

      Good luck at Blogging Cage in quarter 1!


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