Posted March 31, 2008 12:46 pm by with 86 comments

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>>Need help with blog marketing? Hire Andy today! <<Blog audience

How many times have you visited one of the many “professional” blog advice sites, and left with little more advice than the ubiquitous (and unhelpful) “build great content?”

If building a great blog was as simple as writing quality posts, we’d all be tied for number one on the Technorati Top 100 blog list. I’m not about to start my own web site, but I did want to start sharing tips that I’ve personally found valuable when building the traffic to Marketing Pilgrim.

It’s possible that these tips have been shared before–perhaps they were lost among all of the “great content” on the web–but I’m pretty sure these will be fresh ideas. I initially thought I could fit half a dozen tips in a single blog post, but as I started writing, I realized that each tip easily fills a single post. So instead, I’ll start with Tip #1 and see what you think. Leave a comment if you’d like to see more tips in the future.

Tip 1: Your Blog Post Titles Have Two Audiences

You’ve no doubt read that you need to make your blog post titles “search engine friendly,” but doing so often kills the creativity and initial appeal of your writing. Instead of trying to appeal to your loyal readers and Google at the outset, approach the two difference audiences in separate stages.

Stage One – Your initial blog readers

Your initial audience is likely going to be those that have already subscribed to your blog’s RSS feed–or happen to check your blog every day. They want to be thrilled, excited, and given a reason to not only read your post, but also share and link to it.

When you first publish your blog post, follow this advice:

  • Make your post title interesting – it could be that you ask a question, share a scoop, or offer a cryptic title that peeks your reader’s curiosity. I’ll often use a blog title that sounds like a scandal/scoop, but is really just a question. For example, “Microsoft Buying Yahoo?” I ran that headline last year–before Microsoft made its bid. It generated a lot of traffic then and even more so now.
  • Keep it short and sweet – if you make your initial post title too long, you run the risk that you’ll either confuse a reader or give them so much information, tthere’s no need to read the post itself. Back to my example, “Microsoft Buying Yahoo?” leaves a lot of unanswered questions that just beg the reader to click through to view the entire post. If I had used “Rumors that Microsoft May Buy Yahoo, but No Confirmation Yet,” how many of you would have clicked through to read the entire post? Not many.
  • Appeal to keyword scanners – When you read posts in your RSS reader, do you sometimes scan the titles looking for keywords that you know will interest you? Apple, Google, Wii, and Blue-Ray are all examples of keywords that might appeal to your specific audience. This is not the same as keywords for SEO–that comes later–at this stage, you’re simply looking to include words that will make your post stand out to your readers. Use popular keywords in your post titles and your post will have a greater chance of standing out among all of the other posts in your reader’s RSS aggregator.

In stage one, your goal is to appeal to the initial readers that will likely view the post on the day that you publish it. But what happens after your post is relegated to the archives? It’s unlikely someone will spend hours just wondering through your archived posts. Instead, they’ll likely discover your “great content” via one of the search engines. OK, only one search engine: Google.

With this in mind, you need to massage your post’s title so that it can go to work for you in Google’s search results.

Stage Two – Your Google readers

That cryptic, enticing post title you used to attract your initial readers isn’t going to cut-it when it comes to attracting Google search engine users. Sure, you want your post title to entice a click from the SERP (search engine results page) but if your post is sitting on page 10–and not page 1–it doesn’t matter how engaging your post title. In stage two, you need to give your post title the Google-juice it needs to make the first SERP.

  • Add keywords to your title – you should have already included a relevant keyword that appeals to the human “keyword scanners.” Now that it’s Googleblot scanning your post title, it’s time to pump-up your keyword count. Now, don’t go overboard and add half a dozen keywords to your post titles–you want the title to remain targeted and enticing–but you should look for opportunities to include additional keywords. Compare this before, and after post title. Before: “Ten Ways to Avoid a Google Reputation Management Nightmare.” After: “Ten Ways to Fix Your Google Reputation & Remove Negative Results.” Both are engaging, both convey the same meaning. Yet, the revised title removes keywords that are not likely to be Googled such as “avoid” and “nightmare,” while adding keywords that are searched often, such as “fix” and “remove negative results.”
  • Change the word order – I always try to take into consideration my potential Google ranking, when writing my post titles. However, there are many times when I see my post sitting at #11 on Google, because the word order I used–while appealing to my initial audience–isn’t doing me any favors in the SERPs. So, like a good optimizer, I go back and change the word order so that the beneficial keywords are closer to the beginning of the title (which is where Google prefers to see them). Here’s a before: “26 Free Tools for Buzz Monitoring.” And after: “Buzz Monitoring: 26 Free Buzz Tracking Tools.” (Notice I also added the keyword “buzz tracking” to the title).
  • Optimize your TITLE – When you first publish your blog posts, you’ll likely want your TITLE (aka title tag) to match your actual post title. Once you start focusing on your Google audience, it might make sense to tweak your page TITLE so that it’s even more optimized than your post title (side note: most blog software will simply match your page TITLE to your post title). If you’re using WordPress, consider installing the SEO Title Tag plugin to do just that! I don’t use it on Marketing Pilgrim, but on other blogs, I’ve found it a great way to further optimize my TITLE–which is what is displayed in Google’s SERP.
  • Don’t play with slugs – I’ll write more on the topic of page “slugs” (aka permalinks) but I’d be negligent if I didn’t warn here that, while you should change your post title, changing the actual page slug is to be avoided.

I hope you’ll find the above tactics to be fruitful in your quest to increase both initial, and Google-referred, visitors to your blog. I’ve got plenty more tips I can share, so let me know what you think and if you’d like to read more blog promotion tips.

  • This is why I have never kicked you out of my feed reader. You actually give advice that works. Thanks Andy.

    Sorry for the sort comment, I am buried but I had to show my gratitude.

  • An interesting idea, but what about Google caching the old page? Just wondering if you had run any tests to determine the best interval between the original post and changing it for SEO purposes. Also, how long before the changes you’ve made, replace the cached version of the page? Thanks for the idea and I’m looking forward to more tips.

  • Excellent tip Andy and I appreciate the linear-ness of your thinking and writing. The before and afters are great as well. This is a great training example as well as blog post!

  • Pingback: Blog Marketing Tips Even the Professional Bloggers Won’t Share:Your Blog Post Titles Have Two Audiences | BlogOnExpo()

  • Cindy Krum

    This is great! I am looking forward to the next ones.


  • @Landon – thanks for the confidence in me! 🙂

    @Michael – just use the “cache:http://…” in Google to see when Google last cached the page.

    @Roxanne – you doth flatter me with your kind words. 😉

    @CK – glad you like it. The more comments I get, the more I’ll know to write more tips. 😉

  • Jumping up and down for joy and greedily begging for more. Thank you so much! After scouring the net searching for blog marketing tips, a honest to goodness real and usable tip arrives via Twitter. Thank you so much for gifting the clueless with info that can be used

  • @Karen – I’m glad it found you via Twitter. Maybe you could subscribe to our RSS feed, so you don’t miss the next tip. 😉

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  • Andy, way ahead of you. You had me hello. 😉

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  • I have a question about the line “Don’t play with slugs… while you should change your post title, changing the actual page slug is to be avoided”

    As long as the old URL has a 301 redirect to the new URL, changing the URL should be fine. You only need to worry about changing the URL if your blog software does not automatically redirect the old article URL, right?

  • Nice tips Andy! A lot of useful information to use. I look forward to reading your next tips

  • Excellent tips! I´m looking forward for more information like this.(Post stumbled)

  • @Mike – yes, if you 301 you should be fine, but not guaranteed. There’s more I want to discuss on slugs, so for now I’m simply advising not to change them. 🙂

  • It is also useful to have long titles.
    80 characters – begin with a keyword phrase followed by keywords.

    Like this blog post “Blog Marketing Tips” as a phrase and “Professional” & “Bloggers” as the keywords in a title that is 71 characters long.

  • Jordan McCollum

    @Mike (and Andy)—I use a plugin that automatically 301 redirects a post if I change the slug. It can also handle URL canonicalization (well, the www issue, anyway) and other fun things: Redirection by Urban Giraffe.

  • Nice tip Andy, please keep them coming! While the tip itself may not have been new material, your perspective on the tip is new and well worth the read.

    As Roxanne noted, the before and after examples were great. I’ve always been a fan of Brian Clark’s headline writing ability and love his posts that dissect headlines with clear examples, just as you have done.

    Looking forward to more tips.

  • @Jordan – Cool. Our HubSpot blog software does that too, it is really convenient. I can change article titles and not worry about the URLs changing and not redirecting, etc.

  • @Jordan – I use the same plugin (actually Jordan, you referred me to it). 🙂

    I’m not against redirecting slugs, changing them without careful thought about redirection is a problem. I’ll have another post that discusses slugs and redirects, etc. 🙂

  • Great post, looking forward to more about slugs.

  • Great post Andy. The two stage approach to title writing is something I know I need to do more so this is post serves as a reminder in addition to the great examples and explanations.

  • Urban Giraffe has another great plugin ( I prefer it over the SEO title tag plugin) which allow you to modify the tiles & descriptions of posts, categories,etc –> headspace plugin.


  • Thanks for the very helpful advice. Keep em coming! (please haha)

  • Andy thanks for the “Change the word order” tip! Great idea! 🙂

  • Don

    Hi Andy,

    Thanks a lot for the post. It was very informative. I hope you post the rest of your tips.


  • Nice to see some fresh ideas for blogging Andy, I’ll be following this series closely 🙂

  • Great Posts i found here. i will be thankful to you if you post some more information about INTERNET MARKETING STRATEGIES & TOOLS


  • Practical tips that work. Will stay tuned for the rest of the series.

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  • Thanks so much for the unique tips, I can’t wait for the rest of the series. I’ve been looking for a good breakdown on how to SEO my blog post titles for a while, this is a great help. Thanks!

  • Awesome post and often overlooked. Older blog posts are often forgotten but never should be.

  • Wow that is great practical advice. It is good to keep tips like this in mind when writing every post. Thanks!

  • Just what I needed! I was actually wondering about this earlier as I posted. Love the examples you shared to show how the titles were optimized.

  • Very useful information. Thanks, Andy!

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  • Some really good points about a very important part of blog ranking in search engines. Its interesting when you point out that even changing the order of the words in the title makes a difference. Something im going to have to experiment with.

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  • Wow! I finally got it.

    There are 3 different types of title(s),
    1.) Blog Post Title
    2.) Title Tag – This is what shows up in Google SERP’s.
    3.) Post Slug – This is the WP permalink. If you change this in any way, you change your URL, and could possibly direct readers/visitors to a 404.

    Awesome! And i have been using the SEO Title Tag plugin, but never really understood what it was for, or what it did. When my main blog was installed for me, the installer added it by default. Now i know. (hehe) Good stuff.

    As for changing the blog post title for Googlers, when do you tend to do this. Next day, next week, when?

    Thanxs for a wonderful post.

    P.S. Was referred to this post from Darren at Problogger.

    Missy’s last blog post..2008 Annual Veggie Awards – Vote For Your Faves!

  • @Missy – glad to help. I usually change the title once the direct/feed traffic dies down–typically 48 hours later.

  • This can really be a tough thing to do sometimes. I tend to stick with creating a bold captivating headline then see if I can place a few keywords in there. I am going to add this to my feeder in about 2 seconds. Thanks for the info.

    Paul Dunn, Mortgage Marketing Community’s last blog post..Anatomy Of Creating A Killer Marketing Piece

  • Thank you so much for the tips!

    Jobs Nurses’s last blog post..International Student Advisors 4U is it a scam? Maybe not.

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  • Hi Andy,

    Thanks so much for the invaluable tips. At the risk of being over analytical, is there an ideal number of words a blog title should contain? Moreover, if warranted, does it help if quotes are used around a key word phrase.

    Thanks for any input.

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  • Andy,
    Awesome stuff. I particularly appreciate the SEO Title Tag Plugin recommendation.

    I look forward to reading more phenomenal content.

    Have an awesome day.
    Dali Burgado

    Dali Burgado’s last blog post..Online Productivity Enhancement

  • Great tips to keep in mind and thanks for sharing. Often I get caught catering too much to the search engines and not enough to the people who are actually reading my blog.


    Matt Helphrey’s last blog post..Work at Home Jobs that are Not Scams

  • Jason


    Thank you very much for your tips in naming blogs. Great insight and helped me direct my posts better for my company. If you get a chance, please check out my company website and our blogs and how we have put these methods to practice! Here is our website

    Thanks a million!

  • It’s really great to read from the best man online. Very useful information. Thanks, Andy!


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  • It is also useful to have long titles.
    80 characters – begin with a keyword phrase followed by keywords.

    Like this blog post “Blog Marketing Tips” as a phrase and “Professional” & “Bloggers” as the keywords in a title that is 71 characters long.

  • This is a great tip article, you really know what you’re talking about. I also have a series on my blog called “Blog Marketing Tips” and I would love to see what you have to say about them Andy.

    Cheers, Amr

    amr rezk “blog marketing tips”‘s last blog post..Blog Marketing Tips # 4 “Forum Marketing”

  • Thank you so much, these are some GEMS in here!

  • Wii

    I made this mistake early on in my blogging career but now I make sure I try to optimize the titles.

  • Thank you so much, these are some GEMS in here

    Elazığ’s last blog post..Jandarma personel alacak

  • Thanks for the post, but i have read someplace else, that if using wordpress you should use the .html extension in blog post like you have done. Is there any guide to do so?

    Ali Hussain’s last blog post..Color Overlay

  • this is a great post I am just now getting into blog marketing and this helped sum up a lot of Q’s I had thanks for the wonderful post

  • WMJ

    Really useful tips~it is helpful for blog marketing~

  • Great article…

    Googles keyword tool is phenomenal for creating keyword rich titles

    One of our articles went from “Go Bananas for Guerilla Marketing” to “Guerilla Marketing and the Key Tactics to New Business Marketing and Advertising”

    Hard to get a great title that is short and sweet and keyword rich.

    Scott Drozd’s last blog post..Guerilla Marketing and the Key Tactics to New Business Marketing and Advertising

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  • Thank you so much, these are some GEMS in here!

  • This Really a Good Article. Thanks For Sharing

  • Sohan
  • Sohan
  • Chad

    Great Article! Really helpful!
    By the way, take a look at this site: and get paid for hosting cool videos in your blogs.

  • Hi Andy…
    Good work its very helpful for us thank you for the information keep it up…

  • Interesting information thank you..

  • Great tips! Thanks for sharing!

  • I agree 100 percent, but I am having trouble convincing others of this fact about writing on the internet. I have a blog called 8 Women Dream where 8 women post their progress on going after a long-held dream. I have given them guidelines for writing for the web – most specifically for blogging and a couple of them really fight me on it. They want to write these titles that don't make sense, don't really cover the subject of their post or are an attempt to be clever when they aren't.
    I just don't know how to further emphasize how important the title is, especially once the post leaves the front page of the blog. The only way the post then can be found is through search engines. I am thinking of sharing this post with them, but it is a funny thing – almost like they don't get that I am trying to help their posts be found.
    The blog does belong to me … any thoughts?

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  • Title, title, title! Based on my experience, this is the most important item you need to hit in order to get readers to your blog.

  • Great tips. Writing purposeful and descriptive post title is an important and foremost criteria for blog marketing. Trendy and eye catching words will definitely attract more visitors, rather than framing keyword rich unnatural titles.

  • Cool

    amazing stuff!

    Reverse Engineering

  • The tension with ‘blog title’ human vs seo is still a challenge 5 years later. Is this approach still best practice after recent search engine changes? Also, what is the timeframe used to change the titles? Seems like someone could write a plug-in to automagically change the title after X days. Does such a plugin for wordpress exist?

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  • Sunny Farah

    Thanks for great stuff, we can get more info about technology @

  • peterzmijewski

    Great tips, I would like to follow these steps. Thanks a lot for sharing this informative blog.
    Great Entrepreneur – Peter Zmijewski

  • Prof. B

    Thank you so much. This make re-honing my writing skills much more fun! Great tips and content. I look forward to reading the next blog post.

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