Believe it or not, your post title is one of the most important elements on your blog. In fact, if you’re titles don’t do their job then nobody reads your posts. And if nobody reads your posts you might as well not even have a blog. Yet many bloggers go to great lengths to create the worst titles possible. This is the second post in my series about how to craft blog posts. The first post covered choosing your topic.
Why Are Your Post Titles So Important?
Most people who come to your blog will do so by following one of your titles. They’ll see it in a search engines index, in their RSS feed, in links they find on their social media networks, and in links on other blogs.
In most cases, all that visitor sees is your title. He doesn’t see the first paragraph or a brief excerpt from the article. All he sees is the title and that’s all the information he has to do on when he’s deciding whether or not to click that link.
The average online reader has limited time and a very short attention span. Given the choice between two articles (or 10, if he’s looking at an index) he’s going to zero in on the article that best and most clearly promises to give him what he’s looking for and that’s the title he’ll click on.
What Should A Good Blog Post Title Do?
In a nutshell, a good post title should grab the reader’s attention and pull him to the first paragraph of the post.
Here are eight tips to help you craft better post titles. You may not use them all at once because different situations call for different tactics. But follow these tips to get more eyes on your posts.
1. State the Benefit: In my post, “Nine Signs of an Effective Blog Post” I gave examples of the three types of titles readers are looking for. A good headline either promises a benefit, arouses curiosity, or promises a reward:
- Benefit: How Blogging Can Make You A Better Writer
- Curiosity: Ten Reasons Nobody Reads Your Blog
- Reward: Get 10,000 New Subscribers This Weekend!
2. Create Controversy or Debate: The promise of a good controversy or debate makes a strong emotional impact and it’s almost a sure winner every time. “Is Facebook Really Concerned About User Privacy? You Be The Judge!”
3. Ask a Question: When you ask a question with your title the reader is almost forced to respond so these types of titles grab attention. “Did You See A Drop In Traffic After Last Week’s Panda Update?”
4. Write to One Reader: Never address a group, in your title or the post. Always personalize your titles and speak to one person. Instead of “Top 10 Reasons We Should All Use Twitter” use “Top 10 Reasons YOU Should Use Twitter.”
5. Use Keywords: Keywords stand out when readers are scanning through content, looking for something that grabs their attention. They also help the search engines identify what your post is about so they can rank it in the index.
6. Use Superlatives: Use superlatives like – Best, Most, Greatest, and Top – and power words like – Discover, Learn, Secrets and Stunning. These words evoke a powerful response in your readers and make your titles more enticing.
7. Be Bold: Make big claims or promises – Instead of “How Blogging Can Make You A Better Writer”, try “How Blogging Can Make You The Best Writer In The Blogosphere.” Be careful, though. You could also use a title like “How Blogging Can Turn You Into An Award-Winning Author.” However, if the content of your post doesn’t specifically tell the reader how he can go from blogging to winning a Pulitzer prize, he’s going to be disappointed, to say the least.
8. Use Humor: Use humor, but use it carefully. If you’re not a comedy writer you could end up falling flat on your face. But it does grab attention when used properly. Everybody wants a reason to laugh.
Bonus Tip: Keep It Short And Simple – While long titles sometimes grab attention simply because of their length, your reader may not want to take the time to decipher the message. Additionally, most search engines will only include around 65 to 70 characters for the title when they display it on an index.
We’ve covered choosing your topic and crafting your title, so this is a good time to get started practicing some of these tips. Let’s see some of your sample titles in the comments below, and get ready, because the next post in my how to craft blog posts series is going to cover writing your opening paragraph.