There’s nothing quite like catching a new movie release at the cinema and, in today’s Internet-driven world, the first step to making this happen is raising awareness about it online. Most consumers use search engines like Google to research and make choices about how to spend their time and money.

Instead of waiting for events to appear on TV or in newspaper ads, they go online to find out what’s available. This is exactly what happened when Warner Bros. released a new movie in February, Birds of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn), the title of which has been changed since then.

The reason? Moviegoers seemed not to immediately recognise what “Birds of Prey '' was about since the character's name isn’t mentioned until the end of the extraordinarily long title. So, to lure viewers into theatres and increase ticket sales, Warner Bros. decided to change the title to a more search engine friendly one: “Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey.”

Google search screen record results for the query: What is the name of the movie?

 

 

This example only reminds us of the importance of SEO to movie titles and the movie’s marketing success in a digitally dominated world.

Similarly, exhibition lovers are no exception – they search for information about upcoming art shows online and use the information they find to decide what to see. Much like naming a movie, choosing the right title for an art exhibition can do much to determine whether users will find it as well as how they will perceive and remember it.

How do museums and art galleries name their shows?

Ask any curator or member of a museum’s marketing team and they will tell you that there is a great deal of thought and attention that goes into naming their shows, and the process can take months or even years sometimes. In an interview with ARTnews, curator of contemporary art at the San Antonio Museum of Art, David Rubin, confirms that: “The title is your initial marketing hook”. He tends to use the formula of the two-part title: “a cliché everybody knows or a sexy hook,” followed by a colon and a fuller explanation. For instance, one of the museum’s upcoming shows is titled “Texas Women: A New History of Abstract Art”.

Others, in contrast, are trying to break out of those typical structures to appeal to a more sophisticated consumer of art and media. Thus, in an attempt to use a more punchy headline, The Block Museum of Art nearly called its 2016 travelling exhibition on the artist Charlotte Moorman “Think Crazy”; the title was referencing the slogan used to promote the New York Avant-Garde Festival founded by Moorman. But, due to fear of reinforcing long-held perceptions of artists as non serious or kooky, they ended up choosing a different title called: “A Feast of Astonishments: Charlotte Moorman and the Avant-garde, 1960s-1980s”.

This example perfectly illustrates the importance of striking a balance between clarity and intrigue, rather than relying on an alluring but very unclear title.

However, there are also other, more practical, reasons for a lengthy and more descriptive title: “One important lesson I learned from a publisher years ago is that, in the world of Internet search engines, the more keywords, or ‘tags,’ provided by your title, the better,” says Elizabeth Armstrong, curator of contemporary art at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, in an interview with ARTnews.

In other words, arts & culture organisations need to be very mindful when choosing keywords for their titles – one way to think about it is to consider how users would Google an exhibition or a show if they forget the title. What is the essence of the show that users will remember and what are the keywords they are likely to search for?

 

Now that you know why your art gallery or museum should choose exhibition names with SEO in mind, keep reading to find out how to write SEO friendly title tags.

What is a meta title tag?

A title tag is an HTML element that describes a page’s content; title tags are displayed on search engine results pages as the clickable headline. The purpose of meta tags is to provide an accurate description of a page’s content to tell search engines and users what a web page is about.

Example of a title tag in a google search result

Title tags are important both to the user and to the search engine as they let them know what information will be present when a user clicks on a page.

How to write a good title tag

  • Title length

The optimal length for a title is determined by how much of it Google will show in their search results; usually, it’s recommended to keep your titles under 60 characters long but how the results look may vary, depending on the device you’re using.

Here’s a desktop result:

Example of a title tag in a Google search result on desktop

And here’s the mobile result for the same URL:
Example of a title tag in a Google Search result on mobile

If you’re using WordPress, Yoast is a great plugin for previewing how your title looks on various devices.

Also, when writing your meta titles, you should stay away from all capital letters in your title tag as they’ll use up more character space than lower case letters will.

 

  • Use your brand name in the title

It is good practice for all brands to always feature their brand name at the end of the title as it can help click-through-rates immensely when users know the organisation associated with the webpage.

Title tag with brand name in google search
  • Put important keywords first

As SEO experts know, high-value keywords should appear toward the beginning of the title. Additionally, user experience research shows that people may scan as few as the first two words of a headline. This is why it is important to write titles where the most unique aspect of the page such as the artist's name appears first. Also, having the focus keyword at the beginning of your page title will help encourage clicks, as Google will highlight it when people search for it.

 

  • Write for your customers

While title tags are crucial for SEO, you should not forget that your primary job is to write for your users in a language that they understand and are likely to use themselves. Just like in the example of the Harley Quinn movie, people searched for the recognisable name of the film’s antiheroine instead of the ambiguous title ‘Birds of Prey’; this is a fascinating reminder that failing to include the important keywords in your title will not only deplete your show from the possibility to be found online, but it will also cost you a lot of money.

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