Sunday Morning SEO: How to Combine Catchy and Keyword Rich Titles

Filed as Guides on April 19, 2009 10:03 am

In my last post, I talked about the importance of inserting keywords in the title tags of your blog posts. The title tag is by far the most powerful onpage SEO factor. But what about catchy titles that don’t have many keywords? Is there a place for them in SEO?

The answer is yes and here’s how you can combine catchy and keyword rich titles to improve your rankings.

Catchy Titles are Better at Attracting Links

The main way I use catchy titles is to attract links. For example, I’ll create linkbait that I plan on emailing to other bloggers in hopes that they’ll link to it. In this case, I’ll use a catchy title instead of a keyword rich one because my immediate goal is to attract links not get a high ranking.

Don’t Be Afraid to Change Your Title Later

Once I’ve gotten the links, I’ll wait a couple days for the traffic to die down. Then, I’ll change the title to make it more keyword rich.

I like this method because you get the best of both worlds – links and for the long run, a keyword rich title.

Yes, the best titles are both catchy and keyword rich, but creating that type of title is very difficult. It’s takes a lot of creativity and time that many of us do not have. Oftentimes, you won’t be able to come up with a title that’s both catchy and keyword rich.  It’s much easier to create two different titles.  First, start with a catchy title that is sure to attract links.  After you get the links, change the title to something more keyword rich.

A Practical Example from a Respected SEO Expert

Here’s a practical example from my favorite search expert, Aaron Wall. Back in 2006, he published a linkbait with Andy Hagans on his SEO blog. Here is how the linkbait looked when it was first published: 101 Ways to Build Link Popularity in 2006.

As you can see, the title is not very keyword rich. The only real relevant keywords are build link popularity but this phrase does not have a lot of search volume. Still, back in 2006, the title was catchy, relevant, and timely. These factors helped the content get hundreds of links.

Here is how the linkbait looks today: 101 Link Building Tips to Market Your Website. As you can see, Aaron changed the title to include more relevant keywords. Link building tips and market your website are great keywords to rank for. Those keywords have much more search volume than build link popularity. And because he got so many links with his catchy title, the content actually ranks in the top 3 for link building tips and market your website.

If Aaron had not changed the title, he would not enjoy those top rankings.

Also, the linkbait ranks well for build link popularity because of the anchor text of the links. See many people will link to posts using the title as the anchor text and anchor text is big factor in SEO.

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  1. By Heather posted on April 20, 2009 at 9:23 am
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    Okay, but here is my problem with changing title. Suppose that I get a bunch of bloggers to link to my post. They will certainly refer to that post by name. Then, one day, I up and change the title to something more keyword-rich. Now, if visitors arrive at my site via one of those original links they may become confused because they were expecting a post by one name and arrive at a page with a completely different title. They may not even stick around to read the content because they feel that they have arrived at the wrong page.


  2. By Ari Herzog posted on April 20, 2009 at 12:06 pm
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    Are you talking about changing the title alone–or also changing the physical URL’s keywords, too; and redirecting it with a plugin or in your .htaccess?


  3. By Jamie Allsop posted on April 20, 2009 at 2:50 pm
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    Even tho it is hard to think of catchy keyword rich titles, would it not be best to do that straight away, instead of making it catchy and then coming back to make it keyword rich. I’m thinking along the lines of what Heather said about ‘arriving at a page with a completely different title’ people may see there is a different title and not bother reading it.


  4. By Dee Barizo posted on May 3, 2009 at 11:18 pm
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    @Heather and Jamie

    As long as the two titles are similar enough, the vast majority of your visitors after you make the change will still read the post. Consider the example I gave by Aaron Wall. Here are the two titles.

    101 Ways to Build Link Popularity in 2006
    101 Link Building Tips to Market Your Website

    I think the titles are similar enough that most people will keep reading.

    Moreover, your two titles should be similar because they’re for the same post.

    Even if you do get that stray visitor that hits the back button because the title is different, that’s more than outweighed by the many visitors you’ll get from the high ranking.


    You could change the URL too but I don’t think it’s necessary. The new title will be related to your URL so changing the URL doesn’t seem necessary.


  5. By Joelchrist posted on July 16, 2009 at 1:47 pm
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    You are right. Titles are major factor to your get keywords get crawled quickly by search engine. make your title with your relevant keywords. use google adword tool to find apt keywords.


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