The title of your article, webinar, learn now video, online course, publication or in-person workshop impacts the success of your product.

Titles shape the first impression of your product. A customer may choose whether or not to interact with your product based on its title alone.

There are specific criteria to always consider when developing a compelling title:

  • does your title clearly explain what your content is about,
  • can it be easily found on the web,
  • is it unique, and
  • does it meet best practice standards?

Regardless of whether or not your product content is offered online or in-person, you will be advertising your content online, which means you must consider the title as it relates to web best practices. We have outlined these key steps to help guide you through the title development process.

First, you should always begin with a working title, one that will evolve as you work through the development of the best possible title.

Step 1 - Clearly Communicate Your Topic

Taking into consideration the experience of your potential customer, draft a title that explains exactly what your product is about. Avoid extremely high-level descriptions. Your title should never be under 15 characters.

Example: If you are creating a guide on watering plants, you want to provide enough detail in your title so that it explains what it is about, but does not get too long. You'll also want to avoids the use of extremely broad, all-inclusive words. Your title might be: How to Properly Water Plants

Step 2 - Utilize Keywords to Optimize Search Results Online

Once you feel that you have created a title that explains exactly what your product is about, then you will update it as needed to make sure it is search engine friendly for the web. This is referred to as search engine optimization, or SEO, the practice of including 'keywords', or popular words or multi-word phrases often searched on the Web, in your online content. The keywords will describe the content and solutions provided by your product. This is when you consider how a person interested in your content would search for this subject matter and identify the keywords that your audience might use to search.

To test your theory, you can use an online keyword search tool such as the Google Keyword Planner to research what keyword search phrases are most popular for your topic. Once you have your preferred keywords in mind, place those that are most descriptive or most likely to be searched for, at the beginning of your title.

Example: A popular search term might be Watering Plants. Unfortunately the phrase, Watering Plants doesn't exist in your current title, so it will need to be adjusted and may evolve to: Watering Plants for Exceptional Growth

Step 3 - Conduct a Competitive Analysis

An important step in naming your product is to ensure that it is one-of-a-kind. One way to accomplish this is to do your research. Simply conducting desktop research from your computer can prove quite beneficial to this process. You already have an idea of the keywords that people would search for to find your product. Now is the time to test those keywords. Place the keywords in the search tool to find out your competition, but most importantly, find out if there are any other products out there with the same title.

Once you think you have a final title, always include it in the search tool just to be sure it's unique. If it is, you are one step closer to a final title. If other products share your title, consider rewording your existing title, but be sure not to lose sight of the fact that it must clearly explain what the product is about while containing high-ranking keywords, in order to be found online.

Step 4 - Polish Your Title Using Best Practices for the Web

Now that you have completed two of the most important steps in creating a title for your product, it's time to polish it off by ensuring it meets best practices for the Web.

One of the best practices to always follow when developing a title is to ensure your title is under 60 characters in length (about 8 to 12 words max). This helps to ensure that the complete title is viewable in search results and social media.

Example: Let's say our title is Watering Plants for Exceptional Growth and The Best Time of Day to Water Your Plants. The title is way too long. It's also unnecessary to add 'and The Best Time of Day to Water Your Plants' since 'Watering Plants for Exceptional Growth' encompasses that information. After considering all the steps to create the best possible title for our watering plants guide, our final title is Watering Plants for Exceptional Growth. It tells us what the product is about, it utilizes keywords, there are no competitors out there with the same title, its length is appropriate, and it follows best practices.

Additional best practices to consider:

  • Do not include acronyms or abbreviations in the title
  • Do not include special characters such as $ or & or @ or % or ! or #
  • Avoid limiting the scope of the topic if it has universal value - for instance, if a product is relevant for all agricultural producers, it does not need to be labeled only for "Pennsylvania" landowners or producers

To help you think about the above steps and recommended best practices, we've provided a chart of examples that illustrate ways to polish a working title into a final title for an Extension educational product.

The Ag Communications and Marketing team is here to support you with the development of your content, and that includes the title, so if you ever have any questions, please reach out to your team's Product Strategy Specialist or the Web Team. Because we are working as a team to produce the best possible content for our viewers, we will be reviewing your content to ensure it follows best practices prior to it going live. That way we can work together on alternate title suggestions as needed.

Examples of How To Refine a Product Title

Original Title Revised Title Reasons for Revising the Title

Feeding Grain to Beef Cattle

Beef Cattle Nutrition: Grain Feeds

By using a tool like Google Keyword Planner, you can identify what keyword phrases customers are frequently using to search for a topic. For an article on this topic, you might find "Beef Cattle Nutrition" is frequently searched, so you place this phrase at the title beginning, and follow it with another search term, "Grain Feeds," to explain the nutritional option you'll discuss.
Business Planning Business Plans for Farming and Agricultural Operations Although "Business Planning" is a keyword phrase, there will be an overwhelming number of webpage results on this search term alone, and your content will not be found amongst the competition. Knowing your educational content is designed for the agricultural industry, you can differentiate your product in the search results, specifically describing that your online course, publication, or other product will tailor this topic for "Farming and Agricultural Businesses."
CSA Marketing Recommendations Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Marketing Recommendations

Typically, you will not want to use an acronym or abbreviation in your title because customers may not know or use that acronym when searching for a topic; there could also be different terms or organizations with the same acronym that would appear in search results. If your keyword research shows the acronym is an additional frequent search term, you could place it in parentheses in the title, but do not use it alone -- here, you could spell out "Community Supported Agriculture" before using the acronym.

Farmers Markets and Soci@l Media Marketing

Farmers Markets and Social Media Marketing

Using a special character within a title word (including @ $ # or even the & symbol) will prevent your educational product from being listed in search results when a customer types in the traditional spelling of a keyword without these symbols. In this example, although using the @ character in the word "soci@l" appears to add style to the title, removing the @ and using the full word allows your title to appear in search results for "social media."

Growing Pennsylvania Apple Trees: Planting Rootstock Choices, Fertilization and Disease Control, Overwintering, and Harvesting

Growing Apple Trees: Planting, Maintenance, and Harvesting

To ensure your full title appears in search results, remember to keep the title length 60 characters or fewer; sometimes this can be accomplished by removing unnecessary words or condensing terms. In this title, we can remove the word "Pennsylvania" from the title, because we know our recommendations will also apply to customers with trees in neighboring Mid-Atlantic states. We can also condense some of the title down to keywords of Planting, Maintenance, and Harvesting -- which cover all the sub-topics we originally spelled out in the longer title.

Using Broadcasting for No-till Corn

No-till Corn and Broadcast Fertilizer Methods

Sometimes we have the some of the right keywords but need to use a different or longer keyword phrase to ensure customers find our content. Here, the word "broadcasting" on its own will produce many search results for media broadcasting, and it also does not differentiate whether the article/product addresses the broadcasting of seeds or fertilizer. To clearly attract the right customer, we place the "No-till corn" search term at the front of the title, and then another popular search phrase "broadcast fertilizer methods," to clearly define our topic.