One of the problems I regularly saw in the days when I was doing consulting work on the blog were bloggers who spent hours and hours working on writing quality posts just to take 5 seconds to slap a very ordinary title.
While bad headlines won’t have as much of an immediate detrimental effect as some of the other ways to launch a blog we’re exploring this week – in the long run it can really stop a blog from reaching its full potential.
Why blog titles are key
I can’t stress enough the importance of post titles. They are important for a number of reasons:
1. Your headline serves as an advertisement for your post – The handful of words you choose for the title of your post determines whether the vast majority of people who see it will read it. At a time when people are quickly scanning hundreds of posts in RSS feeds, have thousands of alternatives when they search on Google and run through many new posts on social sites like Digg or Delicious, people are increasingly making decisions about the value of posts and whether to go with them. deal on the basis of the title. In fact, your headline acts as a mini commercial for the rest of your post.
2. Headlines are important in SEO – The words in the title of your post have more power than any other word in your post when it comes to how that post is indexed by Google and other search engines. If you want to be ranked for a particular keyword, it’s better to find a way to include it in your title. The reason for this is that SE looks at headlines as indicators of the topic of posts. They also look at ‘title tags’ and the structure of permalink pages (URLs) – both of these things are usually related to your title.
3. Headlines are the key to viral content – I have already mentioned social sites like Digg and Delicious in my first point above. Titles are KEY to these types of sites not only because they attract people from them to read your content – but because the title itself may be the only reason why some users of these sites vote for your posts. This is a really sad thing, but some users of social bookmarking sites do not visit the pages before voting for them, but instead vote for (or against) posts based on their titles. While this may seem a bit pointless, it may actually be important because their vote could lead your post to a ‘viral’ increase in actual traffic.
The solution: The solution to the problem of good content but bad titles is pretty obvious – take more time for your titles. If people decide whether to read your post based on the title of your posts, if you don’t give them much to think about, you’re almost wasting your time working on your actual posts.
5 tips for developing great post titles for your blog
I’ve already written a lot of tips on writing titles here on ProBlogger including:
1. Keep it simple – Most research on titles I’ve seen claims that the most effective titles are short, simple and easy to understand. While breaking these rules can help attract attention (see below), they can also confuse, frustrate, and leave a glance to potential readers. Shorter titles are also good for search engines – keep them less than 40 characters and ensure that the entire title appears in search results.
2. Get attention – Good headlines separate your posts from the clutter around them, and then attract readers to your post. Attracting attention can happen by using tactics of ‘shock’, ‘big claims’, ‘controversy’ or even ‘confusion’. Although these tactics work to attract people – it should also be said that they can do more harm than good if the rest of your post does not fulfill the promises of your title. Be sure to try to get attention – just ‘trick’ your readers into thinking you’re going to give them something you can’t give them.
3. Satisfy the need – An effective title attracts people to read more because they think you have something to say that SHOULD hear. Indexes like del.icio.us illustrate how effective this is. Often at the top of the list are ‘how …’ or ‘tutorial’ articles that show readers that they will learn how to solve a problem or need they may have.
4. Describe your post – Some readers will be drawn to the post with an enigmatic headline that doesn’t tell them much about what they’re going to read – but most readers should know something about what they’ll find if you read on. Headlines should describe (in one or a few words) what readers will get in the main post.
5. Use keywords – As I mentioned before – headlines are a powerful part of SEO. If you want to maximize their power, you need to consider using keywords that you want your post to find in the title in some way. This is, of course, challenging when trying to ‘keep it simple’ and also ‘attract attention and intrigue’ – but it can be done. The words at the beginning of the title are considered to be more powerful than the words at the end when it comes to SEO.
‘Bonus’ idea – at the kiosk:
Go to your local kiosk and spend some time looking at the headlines and headlines used in the local newspapers and magazines. From this type of analysis you can learn a lot about which types of words and which patterns work in titles. See how this technique is further explored here at ProBlogger and on CopyBlogger (master of great titles).
Brilliant title tool
Our content scheduling tool – Coschedule also has a brilliant tool – called theirs Headline Studio which analyzes your title into strong words, emotional words and common words and gives your title a rating. You can then create better titles with their upgraded title recommendations, resources and inspiration.
Share your best post titles
Do you have any good blog titles you can share with us? Leave them in the comments below and tell us the story behind them, the strategy you use and what impact they had.
Original release published June 20, 2008. Updated September 22, 2022