Blog post titles don't always come to us quickly.
If you've been blogging for a while, you can probably count more than one occasion where you've sat there fumbling around for thirty minutes.. an hour... two hours, still not happy with the title for that post you want to write.
There's a lot to consider: would my target persona click it if they saw it? does it accurately describe the content of my post? And perhaps, most controversially, would people be searching for the words it contains in search engines like Google?
The latter is a debate that rages on in the inbound marketing world, with opinions on the spectrum from "forget about keyword optimisation, just write titles with your prospects in mind" through to "there's no point in writing a blog post unless the title is keyword targeted".
But who is right? Is there a right answer?
To answer the question, let's venture back to an update Google made back in 2013, the Hummingbird update.
Hummingbird was arguably Google's biggest search algorithm update since 2001, and marked a big change in how Google interprets both what searchers are searching for, and what web pages are really saying.
Where before, Google focused on matching keywords, now Google is focusing on trying to find the meaning behind searches its users are making.
Let's run through an example. Before, when you made a search for "buy crm software", Google would display pages which it thought were most relevant to the keyword "buy crm software". It looked at metrics like the number of times the keyword was mentioned on the page, the number of links to the page that contained the words "buy crm software" and similar.
After the Hummingbird update, Google changed to thinking more about what the searcher was really looking for when they make a search. It begins to understand that "buy" means that the searcher is looking to purchase something, "software" means you're looking for an application -- software-as-a-service or local. It will then also know that crm stands for "customer relationship management", and that the best results for your search might not necessarily use the crm acronym.
Google then attempts to combine the individual words, and work out what the search you've made really means as a whole, and then displays the pages that best answer your query, rather than just those best optimised for the individual keywords.
So, in this case, instead of displaying the page best optimised for the keyword "buy crm software", Google would instead show what it thinks are the best CRM software providers. A subtle, but very important difference that makes a huge difference to search results. Try the search for yourself -- and you'll see a list of CRM providers, where before you may have seen lots of keyword optimised affiliate websites offering comparisons, etc.
So does that mean keyword targeting is pointless?
From our own experience, keyword targeting is still important, you just need to think about it differently.
When you're writing a blog post title, think of your prospects first, and then the types of phrases you'd want the blog post to show up in search results for.
Google still has to make a decision on your blog posts, and decide if they answer a particular question. If you completely ignore keywords, it's unlikely that Google will determine your blog post is a relevant answer to a specific question.
For example, if I wrote this blog post with the title "Should You Optimise Blog Posts?", it's unlikely that this post would ever show up in search results for phrases like "should blog titles be keyword targeted?". The original title is too vague.
So think through your titles, and think beyond individual keywords, and instead contemplate the questions your prospects would be asking search engines. Generally speaking, the more specific you can make your blog post titles, the better results you'll see.