Title writing is often an afterthought for bloggers, but it is arguably the most important part of any post. Your title sets the first impression for your article and helps readers determine whether or not they’re interested in reading your content.
Think of your title like a movie preview: after viewing it, everybody will have an opinion. “Wow, I’m going to see that.” “Ugh, boring.” “I don’t get it.” Based on that initial opinion, your readers will make a judgment about whether or not they’ll read on. The best way to ensure that they will is to hook them from the start with a straightforward and memorable title.
Also, when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), your title makes a big impact. Blogging software usually creates a tag for your titles that search engines use to index your article. If your title isn’t clear and concise, Google and other search engines won’t be able to surface your content to the top of the results.
If you want to improve reader engagement or have your blog posts index better in search engines, try these six simple best practices when writing the title of your blog articles:
1) Use fewer words. Long titles can often be confusing or can get cut off when people see your posts in their RSS feeds, email, or Twitter. Limiting your title to 7-10 words keeps it short, sweet, and digestible.
2) Get to the point. Use clear keywords that represent the body of your post. If your post is about a specific problem, product, or solution, be sure to feature it in the title of the article. It sets an accurate expectation for the reader and indexes better for SEO.
3) Create controversy. Positioning two (or more) competing thoughts, ideas, or products is a great way to create interest in the post. Telling the reader why something is better or why someone is wrong will increase engagement. However, don’t spark a debate just to be contentious. Make sure you have content that supports your controversial title.
4) Provoke thought. Get your readers thinking using a thought-provoking question as a title. When asked a question, people typically try to answer them to the best of their abilities. Readers generally are interested in either learning the answer or validating that the answer they thought of was correct.
5) Use lists. Lists are great ways to set expectations and intrigue in your post. “7 ways to do X” or “5 ways to improve your Y skills” – these types of titles immediately get your readers thinking: What are the items on your list? Would they add anything? The curiosity is often enough to motivate the click. It got you to read this far, didn’t it?
6) Think about your title last. Many people start with the title when they write a blog post. However, as you write the body of your article your ideas often evolve beyond your original title. After you have completed your post, you can write a title that more accurately represents your hard work.
Using these techniques can help you come up with clever, intriguing titles that will improve the performance of your blog. The next time you use a search engine or are browsing the Web, think about what titles captivate you. What techniques did they use to get your attention?
Have additional thoughts you’d like to share or a question about writing titles for your blog? Add them to the comment section below!