First off I wanted to thank everyone who took this very brief survey. It really helped me understand a lot about user experience and blogging in general.
I’ve been thinking about this question a lot lately, and could not find a decent post or topic about this on the web. So I decided to do my own research and see what “the people” thought about this.
I first raised this question recently when doing a blog post. I thought to myself “What would the harm be in using different wording in the title tag than the blog post heading?”
What do the big brands do?
I was going to make this crafty looking table to show which brands used the same title tags as their post title, and which ones used different ones. I quickly realized: all of the big brands use the standard “same title as blog post title” with a few rare exceptions. I sampled 10 random posts from 10 random categories from all of these websites:
- New York Times
- Washington Post
- USA Today
- The Guardian
- Fox News
And every single one of them was the same. Keep in mind that most of the companies that I polled were ones that I considered to be favored for in-depth articles.
Poll results: what did my followers think?
My followers were polled and given 3 different options to choose from concerning this topic:
- Yes, your title tag should always match the title of your blog post
- It should at least be the same idea
- It does not matter at all
The results were pretty clear: 79% of them (including me) said it didn’t matter but should at least be the same idea.
During the poll I felt as though everyone was spot on, and that title tags should just have the same general idea and did not need to “match.” After doing the research and seeing 99% of big brands sticking to the standardized “same post title as blog title” I started to change my thinking a little bit.
I am currently rethinking my vote and inching towards a solid “yes.”
What about Open Graph (social) Titles?
There are times when I play around with titles when sharing a post on Facebook. For example, if I share a post on Twitter and it “flops” (no views / retweets) I’ll re-share in 12 hours with an alternate title.
I’m still up in the air on this one. On one hand I think it is OK to experiment, but on the other hand I think social media titles carry over to the user experience of your website.
Social media and open graph titles get tricky. For instance you are extremely restricted with character length on Twitter, but Google+ and Facebook are a totally different story.
The general rule of thumb for most folks is to keep the OG title and description the same, or very similar to the post title.
For me the jury is out on this, would be interested to hear your thoughts on this.
It all comes boils down to user experience
Ok maybe the title of your blog post should be the same as your title tag. But why?
First lets take a look at a blog post title and title tag in the wild. While title tags are generally stripped down, you can still make out the first few words (40 characters or so) in the title tag.
By now, most users are generally used to these “matching” from years of browsing. While there may (or not) be some small SEO benefit to changing some keywords in a title, it just isn’t worth it.
I queried a few of my non-tech friends on Facebook and got 1 really interesting response that really hit home with me:
Different titles = “weird and confusing”
In UX tests anytime you hear the words “confusing” or “frustrating” it is time to rethink your strategy.
Keep in mind that none of these tests are conclusive, and we only queried 20 or so people. For me, the writing is on the wall. For the most part I’ll be keeping my titles the same for now but will continue to check out what the big brands are doing and most of all, what works.
Feedback is much appreciated on this one!