First of all, I’d be willing to wager that the title of this blog got your attention. Or at least, I would hope – as the subject of this blog post is how to write titles that stand up to your audience and shout, “Look! Look! Look at me!”
First impressions matter, as Rich Matheson from Rich Blogs tells us in his post Blog Titles: How to Write Good Ones. Brian Clark from Copyblogger has said that 8 out of 10 readers will read the headline copy of a blog, but only 2 of those 8 will read the blog itself. These are… not impressive odds. While kindergarten tried to teach us otherwise, readers do judge books by their covers. Since the internet doesn’t have a cover, this means that the first thing that a reader will see about your blog post is going to be the title. It’s all about getting out there and snagging the reader.
You don’t have long when it comes to snagging the reader. How does one go about such an arduous task? With a title that kicks butt. Of course, you shouldn’t apply all of these tips to every title you craft (you’d end up with a title longer than the blog post if you did, likely), but read up and get inspired. Here’s how to give your blogs the ability to bend it like Beckham:
1. Take your time. Brew a cup of coffee, sit down, and give yourself some time to think. Mistakes are made when your rush – and you never know what sorts of creative bits and bobs you’ve got simmering in your grey matter. Don’t leave your blog writing to the last minute – give yourself time to plan your title and content.
2. Indicate a benefit. When you read the title of this post, you immediately knew that the benefit would be getting twenty tips about crafting blog titles. Ostensibly, this is something you’re interested in, so you clicked. “Blog Titles Are Important” would also be a reasonable title to the post, but it conveys no benefits. Tell your reader the benefits of reading!
3. Start an argument. Your kindergarten teacher might disagree, but a well-crafted post that starts debate is a wonderful way to get traffic. However, don’t just stir the pot. If you’re going to debate, do it well; otherwise, you’ll likely end up getting a lot of negative attention.
4. Ask questions. A question is a great way to get a reader – it indicates that you’re going to be getting into the nitty gritty of a subject. My dear business partner Amie uses this technique in her post April Fools – Was The Joke On You? What joke, you might ask? Well, you’ll have to click to find out!
5. Tell ‘em how. How-to posts are perennially popular, since, well, anybody who wants to know how to do something will immediately pay attention to a how-to post that seems relevant. If you wanted to learn how to plumb a sink, wouldn’t a blog entitled “How to Plumb a Sink” get your attention?
6. Lists, lists, lists. Readers love lists. This is a tactic I used for this post – not only did it tell you that I was giving away tips, but I was giving away twenty of them! Who wouldn’t want twenty free things? Your readers do!
7. Make pronouns work for you. Blogs are supposed to be personal at the end of the day – it’s a way of communicating with your audience that is less formal than other content marketing mediums. Using the word “you” in a blog post immediately makes it sound more cozy and personal – and your readers will be more likely to snuggle up to it.
8. Use keywords sparingly. Having SEO keywords in your title helps boost you up the Google charts. It will also help readers who are looking for information on particular subjects zero in on your content easier. Warning: don’t overdo it. If you’re a widget company and every single blog title contains the word “widget,” you’ll want to mix it up a bit. Don’t get repetitive.
9. Action words save the day. Just like with writing a resume, you want your blog titles to be strong in vocabulary. There are certain words that will certainly grab attention – “free” is one of them, as is “easy,” or “secrets.” However, if you’re using powerful words, make sure your content is powerful as well!
10. Promises work, but don’t break them. If you have an amazing blog post that you are sure is going to revolutionize the world, feel free to use words like “guarantee.” An example would be “20 Blog Tips Guaranteed to Make You a Million Dollars.” This would definitely get the attention of a reader – just make sure that you have the content to back it up!
11. Be funny. Making puns and clever quips in your titles can make a reader smile – and more likely to click. Just make sure to stay far away from anything shady or controversial – unless you’re going for that sort of audience, of course.
12. Tips. This goes hand in hand with the “how-tos,” but readers eat up tips like candy.
13. Keep it short. A long blog title will look awkward on the page, and probably won’t impress the reader. Keep it short and snappy for best results.
14. Put the important things first. Google pays more attention to the words at the beginning of your titles: SEOmoz says so. And we believe them.
15. Be accurate. Don’t dupe your reader. If the title says “How to Fix a Boat” and the blog is actually just promoting a certain kind of hammer, your reader is not going to be pleased. Be honest, and provide actual value to your reader, as suggested by Wired Impact.
16. Be unique. A title that makes your reader curious will increase clickthroughs. For example, doesn’t my colleague Renee’s post What Content Marketing Can Learn From The Mall pique your interest a bit, just because the title is unique?
17. Breaking news brings readers. If you include topical references in your blog titles, you’ll draw readers who are on the cutting edge. Everybody wants to stay in the loop, and if your title will help keep a reader linked in – they’ll likely click.
18. Consider targeting a group. Everybody is part of a group to a certain extent. For example, if a blog were titled “100 Reasons Why Content Writers Rock My Socks,” you’d probably get the interest of a lot of content writers. (Hey, I’d read it.) “Widget Tips for Teachers” and “Widget Tips for Underwater Basket Weavers” also target groups, and this can be a good way to get attention from a certain segment of the web-surfing population.
19. Consider brand association. “Why Content Writing is Better than the Backstreet Boys” would get attention due to the association with a famous name. Referencing brands or celebrities can be a great tactic.
20. Be a know-it-all. A title I considered for this post was “What Everybody Should Know About Writing Blog Titles.” If everybody should know it, a reader who is looking for information about the particular subject that you’re writing about will be very interested!
Writing an attention-grabbing title might seem challenging, but with these resources in your pocket, you’ll have your blogs kicking-butt in no time. And that’s a guarantee.