James Parsons is the founder and CEO of Content Powered, a content creation company. He’s been a content marketer for over 10 years and writes for Forbes, Entrepreneur, Inc, and many other publications on blogging and website strategy.
Why Blog Post Title Generators Are Not Worth Using
There exists a vast array of tools meant to make the life of a blogger a little bit easier. You have research tools, you have topic ideation tools, you have templates, you have generators, and everything in between.
Some of those tools are extremely good. SEMRush, Ahrefs, Ubersuggest; they’re powerful tools to give you information, which you can use to further develop your blogging strategy.
Others are much less worthwhile. One of my biggest sources of frustration in blogging is all the people who use blog title generators – as if they’re in any way sophisticated or worthwhile. They’re not good, you guys. They’re so bad, and a lot of people don’t think about it.
Luckily for you, I did, and here are the results. So, why are blog post title generators not worth using?
1. They All Use Basic Templates
To illustrate this point, I’ve picked a handful of title generators and a handful of keywords to try in them. Here are my keywords:
- Content Marketing
- Red Shoes
- Pizza Recipes
Three keywords, three industries. Now let’s see what each tool comes up with.
Fat Joe is a content marketing company, and you can tell by the page their title generator is on that it largely exists to convince you to buy their services. Their generator creates ten titles for each keyword.
Here they are:
The Best Kept Secrets About Content Marketing
11 Ways to Completely Ruining Your Content Marketing
How to Master Content Marketing in 6 Simple Steps
14 Businesses Doing a Great Job at Content Marketing
15 Up-and-Coming Content Marketing Bloggers You Need to Watch
The Top Reasons People Succeed in the Content Marketing Industry
7 Trends You May Have Missed About Content Marketing
11 “Faux Pas” That Are Actually Okay to Make With Your Content Marketing
5 Qualities the Best People in the Content Marketing Industry Tend to Have
Will Content Marketing Ever Rule the World?
Some of these look okay at first glance. Stick with me, though, and you’ll see what I’m concerned about.
From Around The Web: 20 Awesome Photos of Red Shoes
A Step-by-Step Guide to Red Shoes
10 Facts About Red Shoes That Will Instantly Put You in A Good Mood
A Look Into The Future: What Will The Red Shoes Industry Look Like In 10 Years?
20 Trailblazers Leading the Way in Red Shoes
Red Shoes: All the Stats, Facts, And Data You’ll Ever Need to Know
30 Inspirational Quotes About Red Shoes
6 Online Communities About Red Shoes You Should Join
10 Things Steve Jobs Can Teach Us About Red Shoes
Will Red Shoes Ever Rule the World?
How many of these even make sense? Oh, sure, Fat Joe writes “these titles may not always be perfect” beneath their tool, but really? Out of these ten, only one of them is even in the same realm as a title you could work into something worth writing about.
8 Effective Pizza Recipes Elevator Pitches
Sage Advice About Pizza Recipes From a Five-Year-Old
11 Ways to Completely Ruin Your Pizza Recipes
A Pizza Recipes Success Story You’ll Never Believe
9 Signs You Need Help With Pizza Recipes
Why We Love Pizza Recipes (And You Should, Too!)
Why It’s Easier to Succeed With Pizza Recipes Than You Might Think
Will Pizza Recipes Ever Rule the World?
5 Cliches About Pizza Recipes You Should Avoid
What NOT to Do in the Pizza Recipes Industry
Recipe elevator pitches? Signs you need help? A success story you wouldn’t believe? All of these topics are nonsensical and are not things that people are searching for. Other tools are not much better.
For example, we have Zelezny giving us titles like:
Why Pizza Recipes is No Friend to Small Business
3 Ways Twitter Destroyed My Red Shoes Without Me Noticing
Clear and Unbiased Facts About Pizza Recipes
Then there’s Tweak Your Biz.
Seeing a trend? Every one of these title generators works the same way.
Best Pizza Recipes Android Apps
How To Make Red Shoes
Do You Need a Content Marketing?
They have a list of template titles, things like “8 Effective [keyword] Elevator Pitches”. These templates work with certain kinds of keywords, like content marketing, but they fall apart for other kinds of keywords, like pizza or shoes. Some of them, like Tweak Your Biz, have a big list of templates they give you for the keyword, and it’s the same every time. Others, like Fat Joe, pretend they have a lot more by only giving you 10 and hoping you don’t use the tool enough to notice the repeats.
2. The Templates Aren’t Very Good
Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t have anything against templates as a tool. You can take a template idea and run with it just fine. The problem is, none of these templates are any good. They have a lot of near-insurmountable problems.
- Some of them are incomprehensible. Steve Jobs might have said something that could be twisted around to be meaningful in content marketing, but I seriously doubt much of what he’s said can be applied to red shoes at all – unless you squint real hard at product marketing. I don’t even know what kind of elevator pitch you can make about pizza recipes, either. And did Twitter destroy anyone’s red shoes? I doubt it.
- Some of them are too generic to compete. How to make pizza? Way too generic. Same with all of the various beginner’s guides to X, introductions to Y, and overviews of Z. The keywords are so generic and so broad that you’d have to be a site with millions of visitors to even begin to compete with the giants already ranking for those topics.
- Some of them are too low-traffic to be worthwhile. Frankly, anything that isn’t too high traffic to be worth targeting is going to be too low traffic to be worth targeting either. The incomprehensible ones, of course, have no search volume because why would they? The rest are weird tertiary things. Pizza recipes android apps? I doubt many people are searching for that keyword.
- Most of them only work with specific kinds of keywords. You can see this illustrated easily up above. So many of these work just fine with a marketing-related keyword like SEO or Content Marketing, but the moment you throw a different keyword at it, they fall flat – and don’t even get me started on long-tail keywords.
- People use them. This is the worst part. There are a lot of bloggers who are either lazy or don’t know any better, and they use these tools. That’s bad for two reasons. First, those bloggers are harming themselves by using bad titles, when the headline is easily one of the most important parts of a blog post.
On top of that, it’s not like a given title is “used up” when someone uses it. That same tool will give that title to every other person who uses it, and everyone who uses the generator has to compete against everyone else who uses the generator. A title might have minuscule search volume, but this generator is giving it high competition too. It’s the worst of both worlds.
Here’s the real trick. None of these tools are provided in what I would call good faith. They’re all there not to give you a real resource or tool to help you with blogging, but to serve as link bait for the company providing it. I chose to add the
rel="nofollow" tag to the links to them up above, but how many other bloggers choose not to? Plenty of blogger resource lists link to these sites, and therefore it has served it’s purpose.
It’s also a bit of a giveaway because they’re generally laced with ads. They provide only a basic level of service (something Google’s “autocomplete” does better), and that’s it. They rely on other bloggers who want to write about title generators or blogging tools to link to them. Then they hope that some segment of the population that follows those links goes on to convert to their service.
Some of them have “better” paid versions of their tools or larger pools of data you can access if you pay them, but most of the time it’s just a free tool that serves as link bait and little more. I suppose if you’re looking for the world’s most generic titles, you can use a title generator like this to get those, but I wouldn’t invest your time in writing a blog post about any of these examples.
4. Human Research is Always Better
Ten times out of ten, human research and composition are going to be better than what a title generator comes up with.
There are a few reasons for that. First of all, a title generator needs to have a human come up with the templates in the first place. That means a human needed to make a title that’s either specific enough that it doesn’t work with most keywords, or that the title is generic enough that it does work well with keywords (but wouldn’t perform very well in searches).
Secondly, you have to consider search intent and human behavior. What are people using a search engine to do? They want to learn something, to complete a task, or to answer a question. Your titles need to catch their eye, so they need to match the intent behind the search. Is anyone going to ever search for what Steve Jobs has to say about pizza recipes? Of course not.
The titles that work in these generators are largely made for an older time. They worked back when getting something to go viral using a clickbai tactic on Facebook was a good strategy. Ever since Facebook started putting the kibosh on clickbait, these generators have become less and less useful.
Do Legitmate Title Generators Exist?
Now, I’m not saying that there’s zero value to be had in these generators. I mean, I wrote a blog post here all about them, right? Of course, I didn’t use the title generator to generate this title. Still, you can use a title generator for a valuable purpose, you just have to go about it the right way.
First, you want to make sure you’re using a legitimate and valuable title generator. This usually means using a paid tool, but there aren’t very many paid title generators. They’re all a topic ideation tool as part of an overall keyword research tool, more often than not. Tools like Clearscope and MarketMuse come to mind, but these are professional tools that don’t claim to be title generators – they can only help you perform topic research so that you can think of some topics that cater to those searches.
One that actually works is Answer The Public. Answer The Public takes a keyword you give it and uses a robust list of accessory words (like Are, Can, How, What, Who, Where, and Versus) and runs them all through Google’s autocomplete. They scrape the results and show you the best results for each. Since Google’s autocomplete works based on what real users are actually typing into search in aggregate, this gives you a ton of actual queries.
Now, these aren’t actually titles, but that’s a good thing. Any title a generator gives you is going to be a bad template anyway. This is essentially a tool that takes a top-level keyword and gives you hundreds of long-tail keywords. It’s up to you to then dig through them to find keywords you can convert into headlines.
In this case, they give you a great visualization of all the possible options, but you can also download the data as a CSV. That’s another feature you want to look for, because a CSV is much easier to work with than some graphics or a few cheap templates. You can dig through all of the keywords, get rid of ones that don’t work, and iterate headline ideas for the rest. At the very least, these may get your creative juices flowing.
Don’t forget to think about user intent. What is a user going to be looking for when they find your content? What do you want them to find, and how can you present the information that they are searching for? Determine that intent and focus your title on that angle.
You can also use a tool to analyze your headline instead of just providing one for you. Something like the CoSchedule Analyzer will judge your headline using semantic analysis, SEO rules like length and character count, word choice, and clarity. It’s much more powerful than just using someone’s template idea.
Above all, never use a title just given to you by a tool. It’s never going to be unique, and it’s always going to have more competition than a more unique title would. Spend some time thinking of good titles instead.
It’s always worth it, I promise. Topic ideation is one of the most important parts of blogging – it’s not something I would trust to software that is primarily built for link generation.
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