How to 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!

In this instructable I'm going to teach you how to choose titles and keywords and also how to use The Google AdWords Keyword Planner. I use it weekly - it's a super handy tool!

Disclaimer: I am by no means an SEO expert, but I have been publishing instructables for nearly eight years now! As of this writing I have over 20.5 million views and 338 instructables, 32 of which have 100,000 views or more. I'm also the author of the 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?"

Step 1: Coming up with a title

How to choose a title and keywords for your instructable

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

    How to choose a title and keywords for your instructable

    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.

    Here are some great examples of titles for complicated projects:
    MintyBoost! Small battery-powered USB charger
    Big digit backwards counting bluetooth clock
    A simple laser brush for painting with light

    While these titles will not be a contender in Google Adwords because they're so specific, they do explain exactly what they are with very few words.

    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: Using Google AdWords to choose the title

    How to choose a title and keywords for your instructable

    Once you have a pool of possible titles in your head, it's time to head over to the Google AdWords keyword planner. You will need to sign up to access it.

    Once signed up, click on "Search for new keyword and ad groups ideas"

    How to choose a title and keywords for your instructable

    Then type in the title you'd like to search for. Leave all other fields as is:

    How to choose a title and keywords for your instructable

    When the next page loads, click on the "Keyword ideas" tab to see a list of related searches:

    How to choose a title and keywords for your instructable

    If all went according to plan, you'll be sitting on a page with lists of data like the above. I'll explain how to decipher the magic on the next step.

    Step 4: How to decipher the AdWords keyword list

    How to choose a title and keywords for your instructable

    There are two things you need to pay attention when choosing which title is best:

  • Average monthly searches
  • Competition
  • Try to go with the title with the highest number of monthly searches if it's relevant. In some cases, two very similar titles will show up. For ice cream cake, both "ice cream cake" and "ice cream cake recipe" came up with 18,100 searches so either of those will work well. You'll notice that "dairy queen ice cream cakes" is very low with 1,900 searches, so even though it's really relevant it will make a better keyword than a title. :)

    Competition varies from Low to High. It's best to go with a title that falls into Low or Medium competition if possible. Competition measures other similar content out there. If you're in a Low competition category and are able to get a good amount of views and shares on your instructable, chances are you will end up on the first couple of pages of Google search!

    Medium and High competition are not bad, but you'll have a much harder time rising to the top of search results.

    Step 5: Reusing those extra titles as keywords

    How to choose a title and keywords for your instructable

    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 6: Repeating your title and keywords

    How to choose a title and keywords for your instructable
    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

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