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What’s the easiest thing you can do to improve your blog’s traffic, subscribers, and lead generation overnight?

Write better blog titles. I’m firmly convinced that nothing matters more to how well your blog will perform than really nailing your article headlines. Copyblogger reports that while only 20% of your website visitors will read your entire article, 80% will absorb your headlines. Developing blog titles that are truly attention-grabbing and intriguing can help you convert casual page viewers into readers.

Do leading bloggers suddenly wake up with the power to write outstanding blog titles? Hardly. For even the most experienced content creators, writing more effective article headlines is more of a work in progress. The copywriting experts at AWAI recommend taking a “4-U” approach:

1. Be USEFUL to the reader

2. Provide them with a sense of URGENCY

3. Convey something UNIQUE

4. Be ULTRA-specific

The following tips and examples from my own experience can help you develop blog titles that people want to click on:

1. Give Yourself Some Time

I’m a pretty efficient content creator. I avoid distractions while I’m writing, and I’ve worked hard over the past several years to streamline my methods. That being said, I always leave some time to really refine my titles. Sometimes I enlist the help of my coworkers, and other times I write as many as 10-15 title drafts before I’m satisfied. I’ve even been known to walk away from a post for several hours if I’m not sure the title is worthy of publication!

2. Use a Title Generation

There are a few free tools online that can help point you in the right direction if you’re genuinely stumped on what to call your content. The following are some I’ve used before, and love:

In most cases, the topic you receive won’t necessarily be perfectly ready to slap on your article. Some tweaking will probably be required, but they’re pretty neat tools for breaking through a mental block.

3. Be a Tease

One of the most recent trends in headline writing is what I call “the tease:”

  • You Won’t Believe How Effective this Blogging Hack is!
  • How this Content Creator Quit Her Day Job

In many cases, this technique can be more effective than giving it all away in your blog titles. I know I’d personally rather click on one of the examples above than something called “How to Become a More Efficient Content Creator.” Don’t be afraid to advertise the outcome of your tutorials or articles, without giving away exactly what your readers will learn.

Close up of a woman listening with her hand in the ear

4. Use Specifics

Today’s consumers are cautious, and to be quite frank, fed up with low-quality content. While blogs are still considered far more trustworthy than other forms of marketing, you’ll earn respect if you take a straightforward approach to naming your articles:

  • How to Add Twitter Integration to Your Blog in 30 Seconds
  • How to Start a Blog: 8 Hacks to Skyrocket Traffic 1000% a Month

You’ll earn a lot more website visitors if you’re direct about what your content offers!

5. Be a Little Negative

Ever wonder why the local news is so negative? It’s actually good marketing. Humans have something called a “negativity bias,” which means we pay more attention to headlines and content which are on the darker end of the spectrum. Try advertising what your readers could lose if they don’t take your advice:

  • Why 50% of Small Business Marketing Doesn’t Yield ROI
  • 15 Ways to Make Your Social Media Strategy a Complete Fail

It’s definitely wise to avoid overusing this tactic, so you don’t develop a reputation as that blogger who’s always a total downer.

6. Ask a Question

Questions are a classic form of attention-grabbing blog titles. By asking the questions you know your readers are using Google to answer, you won’t just capture more website visitors – you’ll capture the attention of people who need your product or service:

  • What Could You Do With 15 Extra Hours for Marketing this Week?
  • Do You Miss This Opportunity to Grow Your Business?

That being said, it’s crucial to never ask question unless it’s really reflective of the value you provide in a blog.

7. Use Spicy Words

One of the simplest ways to transform your blog titles from boring to irresistible is with the use of some eye-catching adjectives. Don’t settle for the mundane – branch out into the exotic to make sure your content really stands out in a busy Twitter or Facebook feed:

  • 10 Bizarre Inbound Marketing Strategies that Actually Work!
  • Secrets of the World’s Most Disruptive Content Strategies

The following image shares a few examples of words that are almost guaranteed to immediately add some spice to your headline:

emotion-inspiring-adjectives

8. Be Authoritative

Thought leadership is hard-earned, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t feel free to brag a little about what you know in your blog titles:

  • What I’ve Learned During a Decade of Blogging
  • 20 Exclusive Copywriting Tips Even Gurus Will Be Surprised to Know

People don’t want to waste their time with basic, mediocre articles. They want to learn from experts! By establishing your authority from the start, people will be a lot more likely to listen.

9. Don’t Ramble

While it’s important to take the time to write a really unique title, make sure you aren’t using words that just don’t add anything to your headline. Moz recommends sticking to 70 characters or less. While it’s certainly fine to occasionally exceed this limit, be sure you aren’t rambling on. Here are some examples of short, sweet, and straight-to-the-point header tags:

  • The Most Important Blogging Tip Ever
  • 5 Laws of Epic Content Marketing

10. Avoid False Promises

Nothing is more irritating to consumers than dishonest blog titles. We’ve all experienced it once or twice – we click on an article, and it’s just not what we thought we were getting into. Even if your intentions are good, it’s going to cast your brand in a dishonest light, and it certainly won’t win you any loyalty. Don’t say you’ve written 15 tips if you’re only offering 5, and don’t promise that your tutorial can help people increase their blog subscribers 10,000% if you don’t have stats or a case study to back it up.

11. Enumerate

Numbered list posts are a pretty viral-ready form of business blogging content. Everyone loves numbered lists, so if you’ve written one, it’s wise to advertise this fact in your title. Here are a few examples of high-performing content from our archives:

  • 14 Blog Writing Tips for Creating SEO-Friendly Posts
  • 25 Creative Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs

12. Use a Verb

If you’re writing actionable content, you should advertise that fact by including verbs in your blog titles. By letting your future readers in on the fact that you’re about to help them accomplish, earn, or complete something, they’ll be far more intrigued:

  • How to Complete a Blog in 60 Minutes or Less
  • 8 Deep Questions to Define Your Blogging Strategy

The following image illustrates some verbs that could quickly add some motion to your blog titles:

social-engagment-verbs2

13. Don’t Abbreviate

Unless your company is specifically trying to rank for important industry keywords that consist of acronyms, avoid the temptation to use them in your title. It can be alienating or confusing to new readers, who might not view you as a resource that’s going to be helpful. There are a few other exceptions to this rule, specifically around very common acronyms like SMB or B2B, or for companies whose first-time buyers tend to be pretty knowledgeable.

14. Be Tasteful

It’s definitely possible to take the art of writing appealing blog titles a little too far. There’s a big difference between being edgy and intriguing, and writing headlines that just cross the line. Avoid the temptation to use profanity, political content or any other types of concepts that are more likely to turn people off to your brand than win you any hearts.

15. Bonus Tip: Retitle

If you’re promoting evergreen content on your social media channels (and you should be), it’s probably worth your time to do a headline audit of your company’s best asset. Ask yourself whether you’ve assigned a sufficiently awesome title to your most-important articles. Rewriting and revising using some of the tips outlined above can drastically improve your click-throughs from Facebook, Twitter and other networks.

How have you mastered the art of writing blog titles like a rockstar? Share your success tips in the comments below!