Creating Effective Titles for Your Posts and Pages

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Writing Tips banner imageIf you’re someone that does a lot of writing, sometimes a title can be sort of an afterthought. But it’s the first thing readers see when deciding on whether or not to click on your content, and an effective title does more than just describe the page or post; it’s an essential part of how Google indexes a webpage.

What’s the Purpose of a Title?

The specific purpose of a title is to get someone to click on your content. A good headline is a difference between a click or a scroll. But more than that, we want people to be able to find timely, up-to-date content that is relevant to them, and what they are searching for.

Avoid Duplicate Title “Slugs”

A “slug” is the “placeholder” information that comes after the website information in a URL, which, in our case, is the title you give your page or post. For example, if your title is 4-H Events, the “slug” is highlighted in red:

  • https://wake.ces.ncsu.edu/2018/04/4-h-events/

You’ve probably noticed URLs like this that are exactly the same, but include a number after the last word:

  • https://wake.ces.ncsu.edu/2018/04/4-h-events-2/
  • https://wake.ces.ncsu.edu/2018/04/4-h-events-3/
  • https://wake.ces.ncsu.edu/2018/04/4-h-events-4/

This happens when a news post or page title is not descriptive enough and has already been used, multiple times in this case. Besides not being aesthetically pleasing, these types of non-specifically-titled pages are not efficient when dealing with Google “ranking” and search.

A better and more effective title for this page would be:

  • 2018 Wake County 4-H Events
    • https://wake.ces.ncsu.edu/2018/04/2018-wake-county-4-h-events/

You should always keep in mind that while an ambiguous title like ‘4-H Events’ may not seem all that vague in the context of your portal, our Extension web ecosystem is designed in such a way that your article can be displayed in many other places (digital signs, the main NC State Extension website, MailChimp newsletters, etc.).

By being as specific as possible with your titles, you ensure your post never loses its context. It would also mean better search placement, because it’s more descriptive, and provides a much better user experience for the reader who is most likely looking for specific information. And lastly, it would help ensure fewer duplicate URLs in our Extension database.

A few best practices when writing titles:

  • Use “Title Case,” which means capitalize all words except articles
  • Be descriptive; avoid using 1 or 2-word headlines
  • That said, be brief; long headlines (10 words or more) can be convoluted and confusing
  • Be specific, especially if the post or page is for a time-sensitive event or class
  • Avoid using emojis or special characters; doing this can impact search engine optimization (SEO) and general formatting within search engine results