Page Title SEO: Tempt Both Human Readers and the Googlebot with this Two-Second Trick
Page title SEO is critical. In fact, for SEO purposes, page title SEO is more important to the success of your content than the title's human appeal. This is unfortunate, but people aren't likely to find your website unless Google ranks it highly. There's no point in creating content if only your mother and your spouse can find it. Page title SEO is what ensures that people can find your data.
Google has told webmasters that it considers a title a very important part of its ranking algorithm. This is probably because webmasters are unlikely to stuff the title of a webpage with keywords. Google knows that the title of an article probably indicates its true subject.
Imagine an article about teaching a dog not to bark. Readers of the article will learn that dogs "talk" by barking and whining and that the author learned to train his dog to respond to verbal commands such as "silence." The article is engaging and gives dog owners excellent and actionable advice. It warrants attention from people interested in training their dogs, and deserves to rank highly.
While you can easily SEO the body of the article without seriously compromising its appeal to human readers, page title SEO is a different story altogether. To appeal to the Googlebot, a webmaster might almost be tempted to title the web page "dog bark stop," since many readers use these keywords to search for information on getting a dog to stop barking. This, obviously, is taking page title SEO too far! More realistically, you might title your article: "Training Your Dog Not to Bark." This title, while descriptive, doesn't exactly stir the imagination.
Here's an example of a title that ignores page title SEO in favor of enticing human beings: "How I Talked My Dog Out of Talking." This title intrigues readers because it at first seems to be nonsense, but after closer examination appears to offer interesting information. Readers wonder how a dog can talk, and they are interested to learn that the author will relate a personal experience involving a 'talking' dog. But Google, unfortunately, won't index this title very accurately. That's because people that want to know how to keep their dogs from barking search using keywords such as "stop dog barking," and these keywords aren't contained in the page's title. The title, despite its human appeal, does not follow good page title SEO practices.
How do you write a title that follows good page title SEO practices but which, at the same time, appeals to human readers? Happily, there's an astonishingly simple solution: the colon. The lowly colon, so often scorned and neglected, offers you the chance to create page titles that appeal to both human readers and the Googlebot.
The lowly colon allows you appeal to both Google and your human audience very easily. Simply combine both titles by placing a short, SEO title first, followed by a colon and a title that appeals to human beings. Take the following, which combines the titles previously discussed: "Training Your Dog Not to Bark: How I Talked My Dog Out of Talking." The new title appeals to search engines and human readers alike.
Take another example, this time of a video game review. Take the two, three or four keywords you're emphasizing and pack them into a short stubby phrase for page title SEO purposes. An example might be "Halo Review." Then add a colon and a title that will appeal to human readers, like "Halo Review: How I Killed Thirty of My Closest Friends and Lived to Tell the Tale."
The colon is the magic pill that ushers writers to page title SEO nirvana. Implement this ridiculously simple technique in your page titles, and you'll earn applause both from the Googlebot and from your human readers.