One of the most important elements of all your blog posts and other content is the blog title. Why? Because blog titles have the power to make people click through and read your blog posts, they make people share your blog post and they influence how much traffic you get from search engines or social media.
Many bloggers pay a lot of attention to their blog content. They invest time into researching the facts and putting them in well-structured and easy-to-read blog posts that provide a ton of value to their audience.
And then, when it comes to choosing a title?
Many bloggers choose the first blog headline that comes to mind. Others create blog headlines like they would create titles for books and novels.
And then they face frustration.
Because they miss out on a ton of blog traffic, social media shares, and overall attention for their blog.
Because the blog title was an utter failure…
Why your blog titles are crucial for blog traffic generation and blogging success
What do you see when people share a blog post on social media? Often it is the blog title with an image or a preview of the post as on Facebook.
That is all people see before they decide if they click through and take a look at the actual content.
The same goes for search engines. What do you see in Google search listings?
- The blog title
- The meta description
- And some rare cases a featured snippet.
That has to be enough to make people click through to your blog post.
People don’t see your post, they only see the headline. Why then do you neglect your blog titles?
What should be first: Blog Headline or Blog post?
I usually create my content first before I decide on the headline. And it seems that many others do that too.
But according to Copyblogger, it should be the other way round: Craft a killer blog headline first and then create the content.
The reason why you should draft your headline first is: You make a promise in the headline. A promise that your content needs to fulfill. If you create the content first and the blog title after finishing the content, you may come up with a killer headline that does not quite fit with the content you wrote. Or you will run into trouble creating a blog headline that is good enough to work with your social media audience AND work for search engines and still closely relates to your content.
I have to agree that creating the headline first, right after keyword research influences how I write the content. The bullet list that I make that I use as a reminder for what I plan to cover in the content, is already influenced by the title that I chose – if I create the headline first.
So: If you so far have done it the other way round, try content creation with the blog title first and see how it works out for you. It does for me!
Some types of blog headlines that work well
There are some headline types that resonate well – especially with a social media audience. Here are a couple of them:
- List posts: They have been a favorite with social media users for ages. As a rule of thumb, you can say, the bigger the number of list items the better the piece usually runs.
Great list words are reasons, ways, tips, secrets, ideas, techniques, strategies, facts, methods, and statistics.
- Why posts: These posts often answer the question of why something is so or why something happens: “Why building a social media audience takes time.” But they can also be used for opinion pieces. “Why you are totally wrong about…”
- How-to posts: The more common the need for an explanation to do something, the better will your headline work. Make sure that your post actually includes directions on “how to” do something.
- What-is posts: These are questions users often search for in search engines. If you provide the answer you can use a What-is type of blog title.
- Question headlines: Don’t go for questions that only require a yes or no, or a single number: How old are you? is not the best headline to inspire curiosity enough to make people read a post about it. “How can you appear younger?” may do the trick.
- News posts: If you cover interesting news early on, this headline will work well. However, news posts usually turn old and stale fast.
- Testimonial headline: You can use a quote as a headline. These are often used for landing pages or ads. But you may even be able to get some expert statement for an ebook or guide and use part of that statement as the headline.
- Command headline: These are kind of a call-to-action in the headline. Often used in ads or on landing pages.
- The Vs. Blog title: this type of blog headline is often used when comparing solutions with each other. People need help with a decision between software solutions or other products and what a direct comparison.
- The Ultimate Guide: An extensive study or an in-depth analysis of something can be an ultimate guide. Only use this type of headline if your content lives up to it.
- The controversial title – is also called the devil’s advocate title. This type of headline aims to contradict common beliefs. “You think that sport will keep you fit? Here is why you are wrong.”
- The answer title: This one needs to be taken with extra care. You provide the answer in your blog title but you still need to keep up your curiosity. That can be a little tricky. The solution is often a provocative question added to the statement: “Twitter has some 330 million monthly active users. How many can you really reach?”
From the above types of blog titles the list post and why posts get the most social shares – on average.
Tips to help you write better blog titles
Expertise comes with practice. As you write (and read) more blog posts and share them with your audience you will get a feeling of what resonates with them – and what does not.
But you can learn quickly if you consider the following tips:
#1 Numbers: In a world of false claims and pretenses, numbers ad something that inspires trust. Also, numbers in headlines are eye-catchers. But we are not talking about all lists here. Surprising statistics and data can also improve a headline and make more people visit your content.
#2 Be clear about the topic: Don’t keep your audience guessing what it is all about. You are not writing a mystery novel.
#3 Be specific. “Social Media Marketing” is a bad title. “How to get started with traffic generation from social media” is better.
#4 Promise value – and deliver. “6 tips to improve your email open rates by 10%”
#5 Play with trust and distrust: Promise to debunk some commonly believed facts and you have the attention of your audience.
#6 Be unique: It is a thin line between being clear about the topic and creating a unique headline. Sometimes it is one surprising word that will make the difference.
#7 Address your audience: Use the second person and talk directly to your audience.
#8 Use controversy: If all (or most) people agree on something, try contradicting them, at least with your headline.
#9 Use Power Words: Screenshot from Monsterinsights
#10 Use keywords: You should know about this if you are trying to optimize for Google. The keyword in the headline helps not only search engines understand what your content is about.
A quick process to help you create better blog titles
For many blog posts, you have several options for your blog title. You often can use multiple of the above types of blog titles. How can you come up with the best option for your content?
Here is what Upworthy a clickbait company does. And before you are shocked that I suggest you learn from a clickbait company, consider this:
These clickbait companies live off of their headlines. They have perfected the headline game. The only thing that is bad about clickbait is when the content does not live up to it. Like “See why XX’s daughter is the most beautiful woman in the world” and the content never once mentions the daughter of XX. That is bad clickbait. If you get in the content what the title was about, clickbait is just great headline writing.
Here is the process of how Upworthy comes up with headlines that give them traffic:
For each piece of content, write a list of at least 25 headlines.
Why so many? Because for 5 headlines you can easily create a variety of headlines around the same line of thinking. With 25 you need to use different angles and blog title ideas.
Do you think that is an awful lot? David Ogilvy did even more to find 3 that are good enough to consider them.
So, from your list of blog title ideas, choose 5 and either give them to colleagues, friends, or fellow bloggers for comments. Or you can put them into one of the headline analyzer tools that you are going to learn about now.
Once you have a couple of headlines you are happy with, choose one for your title. Keep the others somewhere, you may want to use them later to share your content again on social media using a different title.
When choosing your blog title also consider what this content is for. The space for the listing in search engines is limited. If your content is written with search traffic in mind, you need to consider this in your choice of the blog headline.
Content often earns more social shares with a longer headline. If you created this content with social media shares and traffic in mind, you may want to choose a longer headline.
You will often end up with different (but related) headlines for various purposes of your content.
Blog title generator or headline analyzer
If you are not sure about those catchy headlines that will do the trick, you can cheat. Simply use a tool to help you create better headlines.
There are tools to help you generate headlines and there are tools to analyze a headline idea you have. These headline generator and analyzer tools all use the above blog title best practices to rate your headlines and give you suggestions for improvement.
Headline generator tools:
Sumo Kickass Headline Generator gives you headline suggestions based on headline types and keywords.
Hubspot’s Blog Topic generator takes it a step further. Based on a couple of keywords it provides you with some topic/title suggestions.
If you already have some blog title ideas, you can use a headline analyzer tool to see how good your headline is based on common assumptions about what makes a great blog title. These tools also give you some ideas on how you can improve your blog headline idea:
Blog title templates
Once you write a couple of blog posts you will realize that most types of blog headlines follow the same structure. That is why it makes sense to have a couple of blog title templates handy and take a look at them for inspiration whenever you are creating your new blog headline.
Here are some blog title templates for the most common types of blog headlines:
List Post Title Templates
- X Powerful Ways to…
- X Convincing Reasons Why You…
- X Effective Tips You Need To Know for…
- X Crazy Myths about…
Why Post Title Templates
- Why You Need to …
- Why Most Experts are Wrong about…
- Why You Should Never… – and What You Should Do Instead
How-to Post Title Templates
- How to Succeed at…
- How to Start … in X Simple Steps
- How to Become a …
- How to get more…
Ultimate Guide Post Title Templates
- The Ultimate Guide to…
- The Beginners Guide to…
- Everything You Need to Know About…
- The Extensive Checklist to…
- The Step-by-Step Guide to
Final words about the power of blog titles
Many new bloggers are not aware of the power of their blog titles. A lack of knowledge lets many bloggers to miss out on traffic and conversion power.
Learning about blog title best practices, the most powerful types of blog post titles and how to come up with better blog titles will not only help you to rank better in Google search.
Great blog titles are necessary to get people to click through to your content from wherever they encounter your blog post. May it be social media or Google search, if your blog headline does not deliver, you will miss out on many potential readers of your blog. And with a boring blog title, your chances of getting your post shared and linked to also decrease.
Invest more effort into your blog titles – it is an investment into your blogging success.
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