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How to choose a title and keywords for your instructable

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Picture of How to choose a title and keywords for your instructable

Choosing the right title and keywords can be the difference between an instructable going to the front page of Google search results or crashing and burning into the dreaded no-views land of the internets.

While keywords and title are not the only thing that will determine the popularity of a project, choosing the right ones will help other people find and share your work!

In this instructable I'm going to teach you how to choose titles and keywords and also how to use The Google AdWords Keyword Planner. I use it weekly - it's a super handy tool!

Disclaimer: I am by no means an SEO expert, but I have been publishing instructables for nearly eight years now! As of this writing I have over 20.5 million views and 338 instructables, 32 of which have 100,000 views or more. I'm also the author of the most viewed instructable on the site. So I guess I'm saying I know a thing or two. ;)

Plus, I think anyone at Instructables HQ can tell you I obsess over naming things properly. Whether it's a project or a contest, my first thought is always: "Yeah, that sounds awesome... but what are you going to name it?"

 
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Step 1: Coming up with a title

Picture of Coming up with a title

The first step of coming up with a title involves thinking about what other people will search for to find your project.

In this step, let's use my recent instructable for ice cream cake as the most basic of examples. I made it with the intention of being a copycat Dairy Queen ice cream cake, so that should be taken into account for either the title or keywords.

The best way to come up with titles is to ask yourself, "What would I type into Google to find this project?" For the ice cream cake, this is what I came up with:

  • ice cream cake
  • ice cream cake recipe
  • dairy queen ice cream cake
  • homemade ice cream cake
  • DIY ice cream cake
  • how to make an ice cream cake
In my opinion, titles are best when they're no nonsense and tell you exactly what you'll see when you click. I always try to stick with that when I come up with titles.

Step 2: How to approach hard to title instructables

Picture of How to approach hard to title instructables

As a caveat - not every instructable is going to be super easy to title. It can go either way - sometimes the project itself is quite simple and could do with a flashy title, and sometimes a project is very complex and will benefit from a title that helps explain what it does.

If you have a complex instructable, try to simplify it as much as possible. A shorter, more concise title is much better than a long one - long titles will often get cut off in search results!

Often it's best to leave off words that describe the processes to make the project and instead describe the finished item. So instead of telling your audience all the components of the project focus on telling your audience what the project is AND what it does. If it does many things, focus on what you think people will get most excited about.

Here are some great examples of titles for complicated projects:
MintyBoost! Small battery-powered USB charger
Big digit backwards counting bluetooth clock
A simple laser brush for painting with light

While these titles will not be a contender in Google Adwords because they're so specific, they do explain exactly what they are with very few words.

The other extreme of hard to title projects is something that can benefit from a catchy or strange title. My favorite examples of this are Unicorn Poop and Unicorn Barf. Otherwise these projects would probably be called "rainbow sugar cookies" and "marshmallow marshmallow treats" - not as catchy! If you choose to go with a ridiculous title make sure that your photography is great - it will really encourage people to click. :D

Step 3: Using Google AdWords to choose the title

Picture of Using Google AdWords to choose the title

Once you have a pool of possible titles in your head, it's time to head over to the Google AdWords keyword planner. You will need to sign up to access it.

Once signed up, click on "Search for new keyword and ad groups ideas"
 


Then type in the title you'd like to search for. Leave all other fields as is:


When the next page loads, click on the "Keyword ideas" tab to see a list of related searches:



 

If all went according to plan, you'll be sitting on a page with lists of data like the above. I'll explain how to decipher the magic on the next step.

Step 4: How to decipher the AdWords keyword list

Picture of How to decipher the AdWords keyword list

There are two things you need to pay attention when choosing which title is best:

  • Average monthly searches
  • Competition

Try to go with the title with the highest number of monthly searches if it's relevant. In some cases, two very similar titles will show up. For ice cream cake, both "ice cream cake" and "ice cream cake recipe" came up with 18,100 searches so either of those will work well. You'll notice that "dairy queen ice cream cakes" is very low with 1,900 searches, so even though it's really relevant it will make a better keyword than a title. :)

Competition varies from Low to High. It's best to go with a title that falls into Low or Medium competition if possible. Competition measures other similar content out there. If you're in a Low competition category and are able to get a good amount of views and shares on your instructable, chances are you will end up on the first couple of pages of Google search!

Medium and High competition are not bad, but you'll have a much harder time rising to the top of search results.

Step 5: Reusing those extra titles as keywords

Picture of Reusing those extra titles as keywords

Chances are you came up with loads of possible titles. What about the rest?

It's time to make the extra titles into the keywords!

As you can see above, I reused many of my other "ice cream cake" titles as keywords, as well as the instructable title and the words "copycat" and "recipe" - that way if people type something like "copycat ice cream cake" they might find their way to me.

There are a few rules I follow for keywords. I can't say these are the end-all-be-all and you must absolutely do it this way, but it works for me :D

  1. Use "long tail" keywords instead of short ones. Long tail keywords are basically phrases like "ice cream cake"
  2. Don't use vague and super broad keywords. I see this all the time on the site and they don't do much. Examples of these are cool, awesome, sexy, etc. If someone types one of those words in, chances are they'll never actually get to you, but will instead wade through a ton of irrelevant stuff and quickly choose something else to search for.
  3. If you're going to use descriptive one word keywords, make them relevant. See the example in the photo above for more info.
  4. If your project is called multiple things in other areas, use the keywords to add in the other names. A good example of this is for something like eggplants - they're called aubergines in the UK so adding "aubergine" to the keywords in a good idea.

Step 6: Repeating your title and keywords

Picture of Repeating your title and keywords
Another good tip for getting your project found in search is repeating the title of your project in the introduction step. I always try to repeat the title (and throw in extra keyword name-drops) at least 2-3 times.

For example, in the intro to ice cream cake, I used the phrase "ice cream cake" five times, and used "Dairy Queen" twice. This combined with my title and keywords will let a search engine realize I am really serious about this ice cream cake. :D

Try to work it in casually - just typing your title over and over is pretty strange. I wouldn't recommend that.

And that's it! Please ask questions if you have them. :D

Howdy Jessy! I'm digging using the keyword planner, but I'm trying to figure out if there is a way to do it without starting an AdWords marketing campaign. I can't seem to get to the tool without also giving google my CC# to start an ad campaign.

great article, i always believe that choosing the right keyword is the start to a sucessful campaign

Kiteman1 year ago

I usually reach for the flag button when I see SEO projects...

;-)

This could be very useful! Thanks! I also find it useful to use any possible word combinations I can think of.
sunshiine1 year ago

After reading this, I am wondering if it is worth the time and effort to go back and re-title previous instructables and change key words to increase views. I am most curious about the title because I have changed the titles before and I noticed for a brief moment in the search engine it showed the previous name. I hope you understand what I am saying. Anyway thank again.

sunshiine

jessyratfink (author)  sunshiine1 year ago

If definitely wouldn't hurt! Though I have to confess that sometimes it seems making a change waaaaay after the publish date doesn't make much of a difference.

I tweaked some of my old projects a couple years ago and haven't seen much of an increase, but it could also be because they're just not heavily searched. Sometimes it's hard to tell!

It's always better to start with an awesome title and get lots of clicks right away - that means you'll have a higher chance of getting to the top of the search results and staying there!

Thanks so much jessy. I need to try the program you mentioned. I hope it is an easy one. I do not usually download stuff because sometimes I have experienced pc problems when I did and don't have the knowledge to remove the program and fix the glitch. I am considering it though for this. Have a great day.
sunshiine

Probably not worth it after the initial share and first big batch of views. Also if some of those older instructables are still alive and getting traffic (especially from Google) then changing keywords and titles is most likely one of the worst things to do.

So my guess would be - try the changes (if you want so) on instructables which you feel (or check) might be searched for, yet are not being found as of now.

Thanks for the input and do have a splendid day!
sunshiine

You read my mind Jessy!! I am opening a blog and in the past few days I read tons of guides about SEO...yesterday I spent the whole morning changing titles of the items sold in my shops and a couple of other things. I'm not even done with them.

Your 'ible is so useful, I learned new things from it and you explained some of the things I learned these days in a much better way. Thank you so much!
It's time to go through all of my Instructables... :D

jessyratfink (author)  lindarose921 year ago

You're welcome! I'm still figuring out SEO on Etsy - it's so much more complicated than tutorials. Just too many folks fighting for a chance to be seen, I guess?

All of these tips are super useful for blogging too - I use them on my site with pretty good results. Though I need to update it so bad. :P

I don't blame you :D I'm going crazy with mine and I'm just beginning...
One question: is renaming photos important on Instructables or just useless?

I have recently received SEO guides from other 2 online websites I sell in and althought things are always about the same ones, I admit it's getting confusing!

jessyratfink (author)  lindarose921 year ago

Naming the photos is pretty useless here and I never fuss with it since photos get renamed once they're uploaded anyway. I'm crazy about doing that on my site though. It's a really good habit to get into to! :D

hunter9991 year ago

Thanks soo much!! This will help me so much for my future 'Ibles! Favorited, you're awesome. Like sunshiine, I was thinking to do the same....it wouldn't take too long for all my 'Ibles! :D

jessyratfink (author)  hunter9991 year ago

Yay! Happy I could help :)

This is exactly what I needed. You are awesome Jessy. Thank you for the enlightenment :D

jessyratfink (author)  Tarun Upadhyaya1 year ago

Yay! You're welcome :)

Attmos1 year ago

Thanks Jessy. A quick question; do you use quotations or something when entering a long tail keyword? In the past when I've tried to use long tail, all the words of the phrase come up as individual words. I guess I always figured you couldn't enter a phrase.

jessyratfink (author)  Attmos1 year ago

In the old Instructables editor, you do have to encase the long tail keywords in quotations so they don't get broken up - but the new editor is awesome and fixes that problem. :D

phenoptix1 year ago

Thanks very much for this Jessy, used it in my latest instructable!

M3G1 year ago
Thanks for this! I always struggle to come up with titles.

Nice breakdown, this is a good reference to keep around

Thanks Jessy, I've been curious about the best ways to go about titling my Instructables for some time. The tips you provide here make a lot of sense, thanks for sharing!

antoniraj1 year ago

very useful information. Thanks for sharing

tofugami1 year ago

Very useful instructable.

Going to go back and do some longtail words now. lol

Zabzab1 year ago
This is awesome thanks =D

Excellent info here... Thanks for posting!

sunshiine1 year ago

2 little words x 3: THANK YOU! Thank you! Thank you!

Have an awesome week!

sunshiine