Blogging basics: 5 tips for writing better post titles
By the time we hit “Publish” on this post, some 2 million blog posts will already have been written today. Since you started reading this article, more than 50 posts have gone up on WordPress alone. For a new blogger trying to get his or her blog noticed, these numbers can seem daunting.
So how do you cut through the noise and get people to read what you write? Among many factors, one of the most neglected also happens to be one of the most important — blog post titles.
According to Copyblogger, for every 10 people who come across your article, eight will read the headline, while only two will read beyond it. Your title is your first — and many times only — opportunity to hook a prospective reader. As Copyblogger writes: “Without a compelling promise that turns a browser into a reader, the rest of your words may as well not exist.”
Today we’re sharing five actionable tips for writing better blog post titles. By crafting an engaging and clickable headline, you’ll increase your conversions, social shares, and most importantly, the number of people actually reading your blog.
1. Make it intriguing.
Would you be excited to read a 1,000-page book titled Tote the Weary Load? No? Then it’s probably a good thing Margaret Mitchell decided to switch the title of her magnum opus to Gone With The Wind. People aren’t interested in reading boring, dry drivel — they’re interested in snappy, engaging content. It’s up to your blog post title to convince them that that’s what you’re offering.
2. Set the right expectations.
While there’s something to be said for arousing curiosity, your title shouldn’t leave readers in the dark about your post’s topic. You need to align your headline’s promise with what you deliver in the rest of your article. As Moz points out, the worst mistake you can make is misrepresenting the content of your post: “Don’t advertise the best burger in town and then have it be a veggie burger.” Amen.
3. Focus on the benefit.
Put yourself in your readers’ shoes. Why should they read your article? What problem will it solve? How-to titles are effective because they let readers know your post provides valuable information about a topic of interest. But starting all your titles with “How to…” gets real old real fast, so find creative ways of packaging your benefit. “Three Great Methods For Peeling a Banana,” “A Beginner’s Guide to Macrame,” and “Everything You Need to Know to Win at Capture the Flag” are all posts we would read.
4. Keep it short and to the point.
There’s no steadfast rule for title length on the web. Still, shorter is better if you want to rank well with search engines and gain traction on social networks. Google’s display limit is 65 characters, and a title of that length also fits nicely into a tweet. QuickSprout says the perfect length for a headline is six words, but we say if you need to go longer to achieve the perfect balance between hooking a reader and setting their expectations, go for it!
5. Try to optimize for SEO.
While post titles should be written primarily with human users in mind, it’s also important to make them attractive to Google bots. Happily, prospective readers and bots are often looking for the same thing: keywords relevant to their search. Google Adwords’ Keyword Planner is great for researching the terms that will get you the most mileage. If you can add a relevant keyword or two to your title without sounding verbose or awkward, you’ll be rewarded with more clicks, more shares, and better position on the results page.
Hopefully this post has given you a few ideas on how to concoct creative and effective titles for your blog posts. Have something to add? Share your thoughts in the comments below!