Introduction: 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!
Disclaimer: I am by no means an SEO expert, but I have been publishing instructables for nearly eight years now! As of 7/30/2016 I have over 46.6 million views and 452 instructables, 73 of which have 100,000 views or more. I'm also the author of the previous 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?"
2021 EDIT: Hi, it's me again! This instructable used to cover how to use Google AdWords to choose a title, but they've changed the tool and made it harder to access. So instead I'll walk you through using your favorite search engine to find a title.
Step 1: 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
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.
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: Finding a Title Using Search Engines
One of the easiest ways to find a title is to use your favorite search engine.
Start typing what you'd call your project and you'll see a list of suggestions related to what you're looking for. You may notice your title auto-completing with terms that aren't relevant: for example, "ice cream cake" is now a popular strain of a certain plant, so the search term "ice cream cake" on its own is not as useful as it once was.
But we can alter the search by typing "DIY ice cream cake" or "ice cream cake recipe" to find articles and projects that better fit what we're making. Once you actually click to search, you'll be able to see how other folks titled similar projects.
You might be tempted to avoid a title that a lot of other folks are using, but it's actually the best way for people to find you - that title is often *exactly* what people are searching for. If you'd like to make your title a little more exciting, you can add an adjective like easy, tasty, simple, best ever, etc.
The best bet is to choose the simplest, most popular title and then work on making your photos and text stand out to make your tutorial THE BEST :D
Step 4: 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
- Use "long tail" keywords instead of short ones. Long tail keywords are basically phrases like "ice cream cake"
- 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.
- If you're going to use descriptive one word keywords, make them relevant. See the example in the photo above for more info.
- 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 5: 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