Worst SEO Title Ever

// // September 20th 2011 // Rant + SEO

Do as I say, not as I do. That seems to be Google’s philosophy when it comes to blog optimization.

Worst SEO Title Ever

Worst SEO Title Ever

What has finally pushed me over the edge into rant mode? It’s today’s Google+ announcement.

Bad Google+ Blog Post Title

A bunch of numbers for your title. Really? Instead maybe you’d, you know, want to mention the introduction of search or that Google+ was now open to everyone. Those are actually really interesting and noteworthy items.

This isn’t a John Barth novel. The meta information around the number of improvements isn’t really relevant. Really, it’s not.

What query intent are you trying to match here? And yes, that matters.

Snippet Optimization

Google also continues to fail on snippet optimization. Yes, we know that the meta description isn’t a ranking factor. But the description is more important today since it’s used in the transmission of information to other platforms. So what does the snippet for this post look like?

Bad Google+ Snippet

At a glance can you tell what this is about? I certainly can’t. The default image here is useless, the title is nonsense and the description simply tells me that it’s available in other languages. Google can count to 100, seemingly in different languages. Congratulations.

Best Practices and Role Models

Does everyone have to follow best practices? No. All of this is optional. But Google is in a position where they should be setting an example. Google might want to take the Charles Barkley approach, but like it or not, you are a role model.

Or perhaps this is a deliberate thumb in the eye to the SEO community? We know that Google is willing to change titles when they think they’re not quite right. So maybe they just don’t think any of this is necessary? But I doubt that’s the case. Remember the adage about malice.

So please Google, take the time to perform the minimum of optimization on your vast collection of blogs (or give me and my team a call and we’ll get you square.) It’s good for you and it’s good for the search community.

[Update] Well, it looks like the Google Mobile Blog wants to fight for the Worst SEO Title Ever crown with their own numbers post.


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Comments About Worst SEO Title Ever

// 16 comments so far.

  1. Michael Martinez // September 20th 2011

    Why is it that every time someone just writes a blog post, people in the SEO community start offering “best practices” criticism?

    I think it’s a perfectly fine title.

  2. AJ Kohn // September 20th 2011

    We’ll have to agree to disagree Michael.

    The title is an important way to connect to your reader, both subscribers and those searching for that content. A title with numbers up to 100 does absolutely nothing to tell the reader what that piece of content is about. It is a title that meets no query intent. Perhaps we should rename The Help to 23, 24 25. Or we’ll rename Excel for Dummies to 67, 68, 69. Totally works.

  3. Fran Irwin // September 20th 2011

    Have you considered that with the amount of links that post is going to get, the title doesn’t matter, and that Google was just being a bit whimsical?

  4. AJ Kohn // September 20th 2011

    Sure have Fran. Google can afford to flout many best practices.

    Yet, the title still does matter and Google should want to put their best foot forward with external communications. Furthermore, when I search for this years from now, will I find it? As someone who performs due diligence when blogging, I often find these types of announcements to be hard to find. In fact, you usually find them via a Search Engine Land (or similar) post that has a link to the actual announcement.

    So who knows, maybe they’re actually helping the SEO blogging community by botching their own SEO.

    Finally, why shouldn’t Google dogfood blog optimization? There is no substitute for experience and doing it might reveal some interesting insight.

  5. Bob Gladstein // September 20th 2011

    I guess they have every right to use a cute title for the post if that’s what they want to do. I’ve done it myself on blog posts, but that’s on a blog with little to no prospect of readers. I don’t care whether there are keywords in the title, because I doubt anyone cares about the content of the post.

    Certainly, the content of the page and the source (along with the thousands of links the post will get) should make it possible to find via search, but at this point, a Google search for [google+ features] doesn’t return it on the first page. Running the same search just in the blog vertical brings up a bunch of posts about the post, but not the post itself.

    As far as the snippet goes, it looks like G+ automatically grabs the first text on the page if there’s no meta description, and there’s no meta description because it’s Blogger. And I guess it’s Blogger because Google owns it.

  6. AJ Kohn // September 20th 2011

    Thanks for the comment Bob. And you’re right, it’s their blog and they can do whatever they want.

    But your exercise in performing a search for [google+ features] is a great illustration of the danger of ignoring SEO best practices. Even using [google+ new features] the post is 5th (last I checked). Someone interested and searching for those new Google+ features will likely wind up at another site, and see these new features through that writer’s editorial filter. It’s not a risk I’d take with my own brand, that’s for sure.

    I haven’t used Blogger in ages, in part because it was so difficult from an SEO perspective. Yet, the fact that the snippets are so dreadful should create some impetus around Blogger features … if they’re actually paying attention.

  7. M. Edward (Ed) Borasky // September 20th 2011

    I seriously doubt Google needs search traffic to their blog. 😉

  8. AJ Kohn // September 20th 2011

    True Ed, they might not need search traffic to their main blog, but there are plenty of smaller satellite blogs (which are also poorly optimized) that could actually benefit from search traffic.

    Something like the Google Testing Blog which actually has some decent titles, but doesn’t have any sharing capability.

    But as I’ve said, it’s more about connecting with those who are seeing out your content and ensuring that your message reaches them with a minimum of editorial filters.

    It’s as much about controlling your message and brand as it is about traffic.

  9. aaron // September 20th 2011

    Dude. They’re Google…

  10. AJ Kohn // September 21st 2011

    They’re Google, but that doesn’t make them omniscient.

  11. Michael Martinez // September 21st 2011

    The value of the title is not defined by the keywords. The value of the words are defined by the page they are on.

    You MAKE the keywords more valuable. The keywords do NOT make your site more valuable.

    Hence — keywords in title are irrelevant unless you’re doing a Q-and-A chaser site. (I feel no shame in admitting to using that technique, but well-written titles don’t have to follow keyword research.)

  12. James Cordeiro // September 22nd 2011

    Michael, if your trying to say that Title’s do not matter in search results “keywords in title are irrelevant: – for some reason you must have ate the wrong cereal and have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. There is not a single query you can perform on search engines in which title does not have an effect. Please, find me one. (real word, real query).

    As my G+ post said though AJ Kohn, I still completely disagree that Google needs to optimize there title, there is no need – they are not target search traffic now or in the future for that post. As for searching G+ Features, the most relevant results are what Google is providing. The most relevant and top quality are news heavy sites.! Google does not need to provide the information, it can be provided by anyone. Google+ is a social network, driven by the users, talked about by the users, and the news is done by the users. Google, just delivers the initial message and the users are happily able to carry the rest of the message using there own opinions and evaluations. For the Google Blog, if I were running Google I would also not optimize it. To many other target market and target audience are able to do it for me. Business wise, spend money elsewhere and let the users do the work.

  13. Jacques // September 22nd 2011

    This was just an announcement – it doesn’t even need to be archived, as now that those features have been added, it’s history. Old news.
    The title was (is?) good as they reached some milestone. They could remove the whole post for that matter, so why bother about a good SEO-title?

  14. Computerklaus // September 30th 2011

    This ntitle got you people on this page how long? how many accesse did you get just ’cause of this? The title, despite of being “unusal” got what it wantet. Buzz



  15. Computerklaus // September 30th 2011

    sorry for typing like a hog


  16. Steven // October 12th 2011

    SEO is the bane of my existence. Curse you, Google.

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