What’s in a name? Actually, quite a lot, especially if you’re blogging. You may have a dedicated group of followers who’ll read everything you post no matter what title you give it, but if you want to attract new readers and hold their attention, tiles are vitally important. Not convinced? Check out the 10 reasons why your blog title can make or break your blog post.
You have five seconds – and maybe less
If you don’t pay attention to anything else on this list, pay attention to this. You have five seconds or less: that’s how long it takes for someone to decide whether they’re going to read your post or not. Without a compelling title, your blog post will fall flat. Your content could include wit, entertaining or useful information, but still get ignored completely. Spend time thinking about your title. Play around with a few alternatives. It’s worth taking an extra few minutes to craft the right title for your post. it’s also important to capitalize your titles correctly no matter which style you choose. If you aren’t sure, use a headline capitalization tool to make sure you’re accurate and consistent.
Titles tell people what your article is about
This may seem like a no-brainer, but if you think about it, you’ll start remembering all the say-nothing titles you’ve encountered. For example, ‘A word to the wise’ says absolutely nothing about what your reader should expect to find in your article. You can write a fabulous post under that heading only to find that it never gets read.
Improve traffic from search engines
This is one of the most important considerations you need to take into account when crafting a title. Being keyword savvy will help search engines to direct potential readers to your post. What words are people using to search for the information you’re about to share? Try your keywords out on AdWords keyword planner to see how often your terms are searched and what the competition is like.
Engage your readers
Think about your potential readership. What do they want? Most people are looking for actionable information that applies to them. In most cases (but not all) they’re not interested in you or your opinions, but they do want to find something that they can use.
For example, this post could have been titled “Blog titles are important”. It’s rather ho-hum boring, but that’s what the article is about. Instead, you have been brought into the equation. Titles are important to YOUR blog articles. You also know that you’re going to get ten tips. That’s right – ten. That means that the writer can’t just waffle.
The other extreme is an alienating title: “The philosophy of blog post title writing and the marked effect of titles on search engine statistics” sounds like it’s going to put you to sleep. It also sounds downright pompous!
Get potential readers excited
Have you ever come across a title that made you feel as if you simply had to read the article that went with it? And once you’d read it, you couldn’t help sharing it with everyone you know. That’s the kind of excitement you’d like your blog to generate – and it all begins with the title. At the same time, you shouldn’t resort to using cheap tactics. Your title still has to reflect the factual content of your post. If you lure readers in and then don’t deliver the goods, they won’t be back. “10 sensational ways to fight fat” might sound exciting, but if your diet and exercise tips aren’t ‘sensational’, your reader will feel cheated.
Why should someone read your post?
Think about it. If you can’t think of a reason for someone to want to read your post, you should probably choose another topic. You’ll see this principle in action in titles that pose a question or include ‘questioning’ words like ‘why’ and ‘what’. For example, “Why you should eat avocados to lose weight” or “What you need to know about income tax” are way better than “Avocados for weight loss” or “Income tax explained”.
Take advantage of people’s curiosity
Curiosity is a wonderful thing, and you can use it to your advantage. Don’t distil your entire article’s contents into the title and first paragraphs. Create a “read on” moment by stimulating curiosity and leading your reader to want more.
You’ll see this a lot in sales copy. There’ll be a sensational headline “Get mega-conversions on your e-commerce site with this clever strategy” it trumpets. Then the writer builds suspense: “What if I told you that the world’s top 5 e-commerce providers have one thing in common?” and so on, before delivering the coup de grace – the actual strategy he or she is talking about.
Titles may be all the reader sees
Think about your own search habits. You enter the keyword and get gazillions of search results. You scan the titles for promising-looking content before you even bother with the meta-descriptions. If the title of an article or post doesn’t interest you, your eyes just slide off it and you keep looking until you see a title that looks relevant and interesting.
Entertaining or thought-provoking
People aren’t only looking for information online – they also want to be amused, entertained or interested. Use plays on words and humor cautiously though — a sense of humor failure is a common phenomenon online!
Curveballs and controversy
Taking a stance that’s outside mainstream of public opinion can generate a lot of interest and interaction, but once again, you do need to be cautious. If you’re going to be controversial, expect some flak and be prepared to have thick skin on the comments that will come in. Still, you will have people reading your article which is better than nobody reading it at all.
(Photo courtesy of Amy Gahran)