Post by Blog Manager Robbi Hess
Blogger Education Month is upon us here at BlogPaws Central and several of you asked, during a recent #BlogPawsChat, how to write headlines or blog post titles that will get readers to click through and read.
When I worked at a daily newspaper I learned the art of brevity. I also learned that readers of the paper will skim the headline and only if it captures their attention will they read the article. Newspaper headline writing is an art form that prepared me for blog title writing as well as for composing tweets. Be brief, provocative and with the content you deliver fulfill the promise the headline offered.
Let’s just jump right into that with my top seven tips for writing great blog post titles that will draw readers in and keep them reading to the end:
- The first tip is right in my own blog headline: A numbered list. Readers love numbers and they love lists so why not give them both? Also, because readers today are so pressed for time, if they see they can get seven tips on one quick bite, they are more likely to read the post than if you’d said, “Tips To Great Blog Post Titles Lies In The Detail.” Yawn. How-tos are also popular so I could have titled this post, “7 How-Tos For A Great Blog Post Title” or “How-To Pen A Great Blog Title: 7 Tips.”
- Use a keyword if possible. If the keywords you have chosen for your site and its SEO lend itself to use in the title, then by all means do so. Make your post as easy to find and give it as much Google juice as possible. A title that doesn’t make sense would be something like this, “7 Tips For Writing Great Blog Post Titles For Readers In Upstate New York.” What?! Let’s say I had a physical business, a storefront, and I wanted to be searched in “Upstate New York” that’s great if I was writing a blog post about, “The Best Pet Shops In Upstate New York.” That title makes sense, the former one does not. Don’t “keyword stuff” your title. It’s misleading and frankly, doesn’t make that much sense.
- A sensational headline may get your reader to your blog but if the headline doesn’t live up to the hype you will have angered the reader and perhaps lost his eyes on your page forever. A sensational headline is one that has nothing to do with your blog but you’ve just decided to use it as a way to shock the reader and have them say, “oh my, what is she writing about?” A title along those lines could be, “Dog Left In Hot Car Saved By Good Samaritans,” but your blog post is about “worry free ways to groom your pet.” Sensational headline, content that doesn’t go along with it — that is a blog fail. I wish I could say I haven’t come across that when I am doing content strategy sessions, but I have. Don’t mislead the reader. Make them happy by providing great content that is in line with the headline.
- Avoid “name dropping” in your blog post titles. For example, don’t write, “Chris Brogan‘s Tips To Great Blog Headlines,” unless you have a) received some tips from Brogan or b) are quoting an article he’d penned (with his permission.) Adding a highly searchable name will definitely help your post be found on Google but if you make no mention of the person whose name you dropped you’ve once again mislead your readers.
- Be specific in your titles. Use specific, descriptive nouns. Don’t write, “Great Things About Blogging,” instead write, “Top Benefits Reaped By Being A Prolific Blogger.” Using the word “things” is too generalized and is not likely a search term your readers will use to find your content. If you are a blogger on all topics Poodle or Siamese Cat — use those terms rather than, “How To Travel With Your Pet,” use a title that reads, “How To Travel Comfortably And Happily With Your Poodle.” If, however you want to be known as a generalist (and that’s not a bad decision in some cases) the first blog title, “How To Travel With Your Pet” will work just fine — you’ve used searchable terms, “travel” and “pet” and that may help readers find your blog.
- Use your keywords in the beginning of your title. For example, my title for this post could have been, “Blog Post Titles: 7 Tips” or something along those lines but it seemed a bit stilted and awkward so I left it with the number in the beginning of the title because readers like numbers.
- Take your time. A blog post title could, in some cases, take you as long to perfect as the blog post itself. You know how difficult it sometimes is to write a killer tweet in 140 characters or fewer, right? Your blog post title is shorter still and you have limited space to grab the reader (and Google) so you need to use them wisely. There are times I will write several blog titles for one blog and then go to Google, type the title into the search and see what kind of hits come back. If there is a blog post that is similar or exactly the same I will rework my title. I want to try and get my specific keywords in without the title sounding awkward — not always an easy task. There are times I will brainstorm a title with a trusted business partner and see which resonates with her. Sounds like a lot of work, and it may be, but if you’re writing a blog post that a) isn’t getting your blog found and b) isn’t bringing readers to your page, you’re like a dog chasing its tail, don’t you agree?
- BONUS TIP ALERT! Do name drop if you can tie your blog post into a holiday, a location or an event. What does that mean? Saint Patrick’s Day is coming up and if you can write a blog post to tie into that holiday, by all means do so. Spring is allegedly making its way into Western New York so I could write a blog post about “‘Spring fever’ in your pets,” “How to keep your floors clean when your dogs track in mud,” or “Great, close to home spring get aways for you and your dog.” As long as you are actually writing about the person, place, holiday, location or event in your post, then you can piggy back on the popularity of a particular holiday.
What methods do you employ to write great blog post titles? I’d love to hear.
(Photo Shutterstock: Cat Yawning)