How Selling Newspapers and Writing Title Tags for SEO are related

Nearly every weekday morning I walk from the train station to my office in downtown Chicago. When taking my usual route I nearly always encounter at least a couple people selling the Chicago Tribune.  Some newspaper salespeople are better than others but everyone I see typically uses a similar variation of the same sales pitch. They shout things like “Get today’s Chicago Tribune only 50 cents” or “Brand new, easy to read Chicago Tribune get yours today for only 50 cents.”

A couple months ago a new Tribune salesmen started on one of the corners and his first few weeks sales seemed to be off to a slow start. He too used the same familiar pitch “Get yer 50 cent Chicago tribune.” The other day though I noticed he started using a different approach. He scanned the front page of the newspaper, found the most interesting story of the day and shouted its headline as part of his pitch. I noticed an immediate change in people’s attentiveness as they walked by, engaging with the salesman and yes, larger problems with the newspaper industry aside, seemingly purchasing more papers.

The funny thing is this is not some new groundbreaking idea. This is how it used to be. The local newspaper boy or the “town crier” used to be the first person you’d hear the latest news from.

That said I thought this was also very applicable when thinking in terms of SEO

Think of the <title> tags on every page of your website as a newspaper salesmen shouting to anyone who will listen why they should click through to your website and read your content. Write a relevant title that is applicable to the content you are providing and both search engines and visitors will reward you.

For those of you new to SEO and web design in general the <title> element is an html tag that should be added to the source code of every page on your site because it is what search engines use as the titles in natural search listings. It is also what ultimately entices the user to click on your listing over another site.  In the screenshot below the title of the natural listing in Google is “How to sell more newspapers.” which can be found in the source code of the document as <title>How to sell more newspapers</title>.

The <title> tag has been and continues to be one of the most important on-page SEO ranking factors and it is essential that you put a lot of thought, research, and testing into what is the going to entice users to click through, while also being targeted at keywords that will drive the most targeted visitors to your site in the highest volumes.