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We are running a print magazine and all issue articles are posted online as well. We optimize our Meta Titles, Meta Descriptions, and URLs for SEO but for archival purposes the actual titles of the articles are identical to what is in the print version. Many article titles are not SEO friendly. A few examples would be "Fly Away" or "Building a Bigger Boat".

How much of an impact does this have on overall SEO? Are we fine with keeping the original titles or should we change our strategy for print version titles?

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Titles are the most important tag you have. They should be conversational and compelling and should fit within size guidelines.

I discuss title tag size guidelines here (ignore the title): Title in Google does not match <title> of document

Here is another answer that may help (ignore the title): SEO on Single Page Website and Content keywords

It explains the headline read order concept and how SEO concepts treats title tags and exactly how important they are. It also states that titles should be conversational and compelling first and foremost for conversion more than anything. It also gives guidelines to how to use keywords through all of your most important tags and what you should pay attention to most.

Regarding print versions, you may want to add something like printer friendly which would modify user experience and keyword weight.

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    I am referring to the actual title of the article that shows up in excerpts, feeds and in <H2> tags on the article. Also, by print version I am referring to actual paper/print magazine and not printer friendly. – dasickle Oct 28 '14 at 15:52
  • For SEO, it is better that the article title be the h1 tag. Otherwise the h1 tag will overshadow your article title. I get you about print vs. printer friendly. Just ignore that. From an editorial point of view, you may want to think more toward titles that work well on the web. Others have made similar changes when offering online version of their publications. Feeds, I don't think, will have to be adjusted. – closetnoc Oct 28 '14 at 16:05
  • Not sure about what you mean in your first two sentences... – dasickle Oct 28 '14 at 16:13
  • Where am I referring to this? The first few sentences or first paragraph of content should support title, h1, and description tags. Is this it or have I gone cross-eyed? – closetnoc Oct 28 '14 at 16:16
  • You comment "For SEO, it is better that the article title be the h1 tag. Otherwise the h1 tag will overshadow your article title" – dasickle Oct 28 '14 at 16:22

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