We get lots of vague advice to “make post titles Google-friendly,” but no specific tips on what would constitute a G-F title. (Or how to code it so your Editor doesn’t need to change it.)
Creativity in writing your posts ought to extend to the titles, right? And yet, because Google and other engines put such an emphasis on the title, a bit more consistency is also desirable. The following guidelines may help, especially if you’re as confused as I was. I’ve written this so you can Cut-and-Paste the line of code you want, edit the ALLCAPS portions to include your information, and have a ready-to-post Title.
First, the requirements. You need to do these with your posts, or risk having the title edited. Since editing that happens after Google has snarfed up your post can negatively affect your G-F ratio, you should care about this.
No Periods Period. Don’t use a period to end a title. If you are reviewing a Web site, leave off the domain extension—″Blogcritics” instead of “Blogcritics.com”. And please, one exclamation point is more than enough!!!
Turn Off Caps Lock The only appropriate all-caps entry in a title is an acronym (like NASA or VRWC). I use Title Caps Style (all non-article, non-prepositional words are capitalized) for my own posts, but that’s a stylistic choice. (News stories often use Sentence Caps Style instead, in which only the initial word and proper names are capitalized.)
Book Titles in Italics Italic text helps the title of what you’re reviewing or commenting on stand out from the body of your text. In the same way, it visally marks the title of the work you’re reviewing, IF the book’s title is part of your post title:
Note: Book titles and author’s names should always be correctly capitalized. When in doubt, use the capitalization you see on the cover of the book.
If It’s a Review, Say So Including the word “Review” in the title of a review post does help boost your Google page rank. It also helps your item be found by searchers looking specifically for reviews. Brevity is also to be preferred, so a simple “Review:” is better than “A review of…”
Now, the creative stuff:
Include the Author’s Name Including the name of an author—especially one who is highly ranked by Google—can also help boost your post’s G-F quotient. There doesn’t seem to be any difference between the possessive mode (i.e., Neil Stephenson’s Crytonomicon) or attribution (Crytonomicon by Neil Stephenson; Crytonomicon – Neil Stephenson). This is probably because “by” is a Google “stop word”—it is ignored, as is punctuation.
Review: <i>TITLE</i> by AUTHORNAME—OR—
Review: <i>TITLE</i> - AUTHORNAME
Key to a Hot Google Topic Okay, now we get into some really creative writing. Google page-ranking is evanescent; you cannot hope to claim a high spot and hold it forever with a single post. So if your review can honestly be keyed to a current hot topic on the Web, use this technique to bring readers to your post.
Update: The name of the item being reviewed is critical to the site, and the clever Google-linking stuff is secondary. Remember, you can also put that hot-topic line in the excerpt field.
The obvious application is a review of a work by or about someone in the news. The best example in recent days is Eric Olsen’s review of a book about Michael Jackson, released during the heat of his trial. By including one extra word that ties his post to the current issue, Olsen ups his chances of a higher G-F value. (Please note that his extra word is totally appropriate to his review, not thrown in only to glean G-F points!) But your post doesn’t need to be concerned with a current celebrity—if what you’ve read, or your commentary on it, has something to say about any hot topic, get creative!
CLEVER GOOGLE-CURRENT TOPIC LINK: <i>TITLE</i>
Combinations Maybe you are like me; you want the title and author and the word “Review” and a clever, creative hook to pull in readers. So you set it up, but there are all those colons strung in a row, “Hook, Line and Sinker: Review: Book Title by This Author.” Yuck. There are a couple of useful punctuation elements that can substitute for the first colon. The most Google-friendly of these is the simple linefeed.
UPDATE: The BlogCritics site, however, does not find linefeeds in the titles friendly at all. At the request of the management, please do not use them. (The code has been removed as of 7/14/2005.)
A bit more complicated is the em-dash, a character that is preferred by professional typesetters over a double-dash. The style rulebook says that, for the body of your text, the em-dash (or double-dash) is used in place of parentheses—especially when the parenthetical phrase ends the sentence. It is also used to mark attribution at the end of a citation, which helps justify its use in this case.
Review: <i>TITLE</i> by AUTHORNAME — G-F HOOK
This is the preferred style option for such combinations, and looks like this:
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Review: Book Title by This Author — Hook, Line and Sinker