What’s In A Name – Why Titles of Art Are Important for SEO and for Meaning

William Shakespeare said:

“What’s in a name?  that which we call a rose 
By any other name would smell as sweet…” Shakespeare

Well, that might have been true when Shakespeare was alive–before the age of the World Wide Web–but at this time, the names that we give things determine whether they survive the media glut or not. Naming things correctly is essential for being FOUND on the Internet and after that, the name is important for capturing the interest of the potential viewers who might otherwise barely glance at the things named, as they whizz past them, on the computer.

I have written several articles about how Google plays a part in determining whether or not a blogger will be discovered on the web. Titles, tags, and keywords are central to the way that Google helps searchers find us. Especially in the arts, names play several important roles in the 21st Century. For a scientific or mathematic treatise, the title of a book might be more straightforward–more of a statement of mere fact. For instance, if I were a scientist and I was exploring Sir Isaac Newton’s laws of gravity, I might get away with titling my work: “Gravity.” But for a more creative piece to be found on the Internet, the title of a piece might need to suggest the tone of the work and its essence, as well as the concrete. Consider this for a moment: What if I were a poet and I was naming an anthology of my poetry “Gravity?”  How would the person who searches the Internet at lightning speed notice me and differentiate my book of poetry from a book about physics?

I both write and paint, and I even write a bit of poetry. Especially where my poetry is concerned, I feel the need to use titles that are more suggestive than merely straightforward. The elusive titles simply seem to fit better.

On Silver Sheets, I Sail
by Jacki Kellum

Just before I open my eyes
I float along the misty skies.

I reach, I feel the soft, white hair
and fairy wings that flutter there.

I listen, I hear the slumber song,
The angel band that plays along

My dreams are in my pillow-pail.
On silver sheets, I sail.

©Jacki Kellum December 16, 2015

I love the title “On Silver Sheets, I Sail.” Quite honestly, I would like to  name my entire autobiography “On Silver Sheets, I Sail.” In short, I DO Sail on Silver Sheets, and I always have done so, but this is not a great title for helping my work be found on the Internet. A quick surfer might glance at that title and think that it alludes to aluminum foil or space blankets or something other than what I am trying to say. Bottom line, “On Silver Sheets, I Sail” is a great title for suggesting the mood that I want to capture in my verse–and it hints at the essence of the piece, but that title will not do much for me in Google Searches.  I have decided that, at least for the time being, my titles need a prefix or a suffix to help explain them a bit and hopefully, to help them stand out in the herd.

Forest Daffodil: The Prayer – Jacki Kellum Watercolor

My piece Forest Daffodil is about more than a typical Springtime -Easter-Bunny-Happy-Sunshine Blossom. The flower that I have painted and that is shown above is in a wooded area, and my color choices reflect that about it. I added the word Forest to the title to specify where my plant is blooming, but my daffodil is still about more than the fact that it has managed to bloom within a grove of trees. While it might not be apparent to others, my Forest Daffodil says something about me, spiritually.

When I am beneath a canopy of trees and see the light filtering through the branches, I often sense a Holy presence, and as the sunlight dapples around me, I often feel that I am bathed in a healing balm. When this happens, I not only sense God’s light, but I also sense that God’s light senses me, in return. When I am in a forest, I feel that I am in communion with God, and that is what my painting Forest Daffodil is about. In order to suggest that my painting of a daffodil is not only about a simple spring flower that is resting in a flickering, wooded light. I added the words “The Prayer” to the title “Forest Daffodil.”

I am definitely an off-and-on person. Sometimes I paint and sometimes I cannot paint. Sometimes I write and sometimes I cannot write. Sometimes I pray and sometimes I cannot pray. Fortunately, God still loves off-and-on people and he recognizes that there may be times that we cannot pray. The Bible talks about this:

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. Romans 8:26

When I am able to pray anywhere and at any time that I want, I simply pray, but when I cannot pray, I go to the forest, and I allow the Spirit to pray for me.

What’s in a name?  that which we call a Daffodil
By any other name would smell as sweet… [or not].
The rest of that story:
In the 21st Century, that which is MERELY named Daffodil
May never be smelled at all.

In summary, there is value in infusing your title with as much lyricism as you do your work itself. Your title is like a red carpet that you roll out before your work–it is the way that you set a stage for your writing or your art. Our titles need to express emotion, but if we want our work to be found on the Internet the titles may also need some Google power, too.

The bottom line in all of this is that understanding is a deep, complex thing. I write and I paint feeling, an emotional thing–a something that is beyond the black and white of the words that I might use as a title. Understanding requires more than a reading of a few words, but the words may lead the way.

Art is an essence. It is an ideal. It is an arrow shot into the fog. Sometimes it misses its mark entirely but sometimes, it does not. Regardless of where the arrow lands, however, the artist needs to keep aiming for the truth–the Nameless. Our titles help our patrons find our art on the Internet and then, our words help our patrons to begin to find their own words for what we have created. Our words help our patrons connect to us. They help our patrons to understand.

You might also like to read my article that explains how to use Google Keywords to help yourself be found on the Internet:

How to Use Google Keyword Planner to Sell Your Art



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