The first post of 2013 was titled “Worst titles of 2012″; I’ve been doing this yearly wrapup since ’07, and I’m surprised I didn’t think of doing it earlier, inasmuch as I’ve been slapping actual titles on these posts since 2002. (The Vents, of course, have had titles since 1996.) For some readers, the post titles may be the best thing here; they definitely draw attention to the place.
Which could be bad news, says Annetta Powell:
[B]log titles should be able to capture the attention of your target readers. This conclusion brings us to a rather startling fact that a good blog title also has the potential to negatively impact your blog reputation. This is because it is a mistake to create an extraordinary title to represent an average or maybe below average blog post. Simply put, a great title for a not-so-great content can seriously damage your blog reputation.
Is that a fact?
[A] good title for a blog post which is of little or no value to the reader basically defeats the purpose of having an attention-grabbing headline. You may increase your traffic generation but your target audience will find your Content Marketing to be disappointing. This is because your potential readers will get attracted to your blog title and click on it expecting to find content of similar caliber. But the opposite of this situation will leave them bitterly disappointed in your blog post.
Or, perhaps, bitterly disappointed in those other four posts I did that day. I get, I think, more than my share of what I think of as WTF traffic, people dropping in wondering, well, WTF; some of them will stick around, but more of them won’t. I’m not goofy enough to think that I’m going to hold on to every stray reader who wandered in here because of a quirky-looking tweet or a bizarre Google search. A few months back, I caught some linkage which temporarily boosted my feed subscribers from 300 or so to nearly 800. I’ve kept maybe 100 from that boomlet, which is probably more than I deserved.
And then there’s this business:
Bloggers also focus on making their blog title good enough for SEO purposes. This requires them to use primary keywords in the title as well as in the content. But today’s audience and readers are highly aware of most internet practices. If they get attracted to a good blog title for poor quality content, they will be under the impression that the writer’s focus was only on SEO and not on adding value for them. This negative reputation will then transfer to all your future blogging efforts as well.
And you already know what I think about SEO:
“Search engine optimization” is the 21st-century version of phrenology. Everybody and his brother-in-law has some scheme to game the system; every other month or so, Google, which owns half the search market, duly upsets the system and thus all the games. Blather, rinse, repeat. Were I more desperate for traffic, and had I money to lavish on this site, I would be better served by simply hiring a practitioner of vodou; at worst, I’d only have to clean the chicken blood out of the database once in a while.
I note for reference that I’ve tried several plugins, but there is, so far as I know, no WordPress code specifically intended to remove chicken blood.
So while I’m grateful for Ms Powell’s advice, I’m probably going to keep on doing what I’ve been doing for the past decade or so, and I figure that any of you who object to that sort of thing will never, ever see this because you quit reading me years ago.