While your post’s title may be an afterthought during the writing process, it’s the first impression for your (potential) readers and often impacts whether they click or skip your piece. Eight out of ten people will read your title, but only two out of ten will actually read your post. So how do you pique their interest?
Numbered lists are the catnip of blog post titles – We just can’t resist them… you clicked on this post, didn’t you? There’s a reason they’re on magazine covers and BuzzFeed turned “listicles” into a media empire, people are busy with lots of content competing for their attention and a list-driven article seems way easier to consumer than a dense chunk of text. Plus it’s even more effective when you choose an odd number.
70 is the magic number – Our friends at Google only show the first 70 characters of any page title, so if you aren’t keeping it trim, people are probably missing out.
Less isn’t always more – While you don’t want your title to be too long, you don’t want to leave out the important stuff either. Be sure your title isn’t so cryptic they can’t tell what it is actually about and gets them excited to read your post. If you’re too vague or brief it might not be enough motivation for them to click.
Pick one keyword to focus on – The mysterious algorithms that determine what shows up first in search results are constantly changing, and many people try to game the system by jamming as many keywords as possible into their titles. Instead of trying to cover all the bases, pick the single most relevant keyword and build your headline around that.
Tell readers what this post will do for them – If your blog post is going to teach your readers something, entertain them or inform them, include that benefit right in the title. Titles like “How to Save 15 Minutes Every Morning Doing One Thing Each Night” and “Soup Recipes That Will Have Your Kids Asking For Seconds” make it very clear what the reader will get out of reading your post.
Adjectives are your friends – Don’t just tell people this post has “Four Things I Learned At The Dentist,” let them know you want to tell them about “Four Mind-Blowing Things I Learned At The Dentist” or “Four Horrifying Things I Learned At The Dentist” of “Four Hysterical Things I Learned At The Dentist.” Each adjective choice makes a post seem far more interesting, plus it prepares them for what to expect.
A little alliteration never hurt anyone – Bring some playfulness to the title if it makes sense, but don’t force it. “Succulent Summer Salads” works, but “Ten Tips for Training Teachers to Text Teens” is probably a little much.
Pay attention to punctuation – There are plenty of great ways to use punctuation to punch up your title: Exclamation points for excitement, question marks to lead the reader into the post, colons to set things up without wasting characters. But your title isn’t the same as your Twitter feed, so skip the &s, @s and #s since they’ll just mess up how your blog title looks on some browsers.
No, you’re not spending too much time writing your blog title – It may only be a handful of words compared to the hundreds in your actual post, but experts say you should spend 80% of your time perfecting your headline, since that’s one of the best ways to get lots of readers perusing your post.