How to write blog titles: The only guide you need to read
Ever feel like your blog traffic could use a boost? In most cases, the solution is right at the top of the page. Let’s talk titles, and break down six easy ways to draw visitors into your world.
80% of people, when confronted with any piece of writing, read the headline and nothing else. So, surely, it logically follows that 80p of every pound you spend on marketing should be going on crafting a winning title, along with 80% of the time you spend writing.
Is that the case for your blog?
In most cases, this just isn’t feasible. But that oft-quoted stat from Uncle Og demonstrates how critical it is to nail a title which commands the reader to engage with the bulk of what you’ve written.
Until they come up with an algorithm to enable AI to write our headlines for us, all we’ve got is good old-fashioned copywriting know-how which, as always, we’re happy to share with you.
Get to the point
You love what you do, and you’re excited about the topic you’re addressing, that’s what makes a great blog. But first, you’ve got to get someone to read it. Most casual readers, in the course of their browsing, will scan over dozens of blog titles before they see something that tickles their fancy.
Your blog title needs to be that fancy-tickler.
What is a reader supposed to be getting out of your blog? Put that right at the front, before any fluffy subtitles, and don’t hide your selling point behind flowery language.
People give the tabloids a bad rap when it comes to shoehorning puns, but look at this example from the Daily Mirror. No nonsense, just a straight declaration of what the piece is about to catch as much of that sniffly November traffic as possible.
How long should a blog title be? Some people say ten words, some eight, some twelve. Others count characters instead of words. In reality, titles need to be long enough to get the job done, and not one full stop longer.
Be ruthless when condensing your titles. If you think something is particularly clever or witty, but it isn’t doing the job of driving traffic; either drop it or move it to the body copy.
Read your title out aloud, ideally to a colleague. If it sounds cumbersome on the tongue, it’s going to sound cumbersome in someone’s head.
Remember also that different social media platforms prioritise different lengths. Twitter likes 8-12 words, while Facebook prefers a more discursive 12-14, according to Hubspot. If you rely heavily on one platform for traffic, tailor your titles to keep the almighty algorithm happy.
Vice is awesome when it comes to short, snappy titles which capture the feel of a piece without giving the game away. This example right here is a titillating self-contained tale which ends on a cliffhanger. What’s a happiness museum? Why did it make the author sad? You’re drawn in beautifully, and it’s all done in the space of ten words.
Ok, we’re all grownups now. We can admit to ourselves that those years spent bending our content around the latest SEO rumour only ever resulted in weird, inhuman-sounding copy. Cheeky attempts to game the system are never a substitute for knowing your audience, and producing useful, informative, or entertaining content for them.
User behaviour is vital to your site’s health, and it’s only going to become more important as time goes on and Google’s creepy journey towards AI Overlord status reaches its dystopian climax.
You should be including a keyword in your title because it interests your audience, not to tick a box with the Big G. Conversely, you should avoid stuffing your title with keywords because it’s bad writing, not out of fear of being penalised.
Say what you like about Buzzfeed, but they absolutely nail their connection with the people visiting the site. This title is in no way optimised for organic search, but it speaks the audience’s language and hints at a relatable, fun coffee break read.
Concoct your own formula
A lot of blogs-about-blogging are happy to provide you with a list of templates to use when crafting titles. Off the top of my head, these tend to include:
- Using numbers. ‘# ways to make more sales’.
- Starting with a question. ‘Need to make more sales? We show you how’.
- Showing authority. ‘Scientists have cracked the code to making sales’.
- Superlatives. ‘Amazing, incredible tips for boosting sales’.
- Good old dirty FOMO. ‘You can’t afford to miss these sales tips’.
There are hundreds of these, in all sorts of combinations. You can’t use them all, nor should you try. However, what you can do is narrow down maybe 10-12 which work for the audience you’re trying to reach.
Are you appealing to an academic crowd? They’ll like numbers and stats. Writing for artsy-fartsy types? They’ll respond well to emotive, impactful language. Over time, you can refine a go-to list of templates which you’ve proven to drive traffic.
Don’t be afraid to test things, either. Try one format and see how many clicks it gets, then change the title using another format and re-share a few months later. Testing, revising, and refining your titles should always be an ongoing process.
Write it well!
This should really go without saying, yet here we are. You can satisfy all the above criteria and still come out with a lame title that just doesn’t excite anyone to read your blog. It can be hard to really speak to someone’s soul when you’re writing about dry B2B content, but there’s a way. I promise.
Before you even sit down to write the blog, consider what function it’s performing. Loosely, you’ll be wanting to do one of four things to your audience:
- Inspire them
- Educate them
- Entertain them
- Convince them
Rather than trying to be all things to all men, tailor your blog, and thus your title, towards one of those four goals. This will help focus your mind on crafting a message which doesn’t just encourage clicks, but demands them!
This from SFGate might be my favourite title I’ve seen all year. It’s like someone boiled a Michael Bay film down to 11 words. Is Elon Musk masquerading as Satoshi Nakamoto? He says he’s not, but then again, he would say that. Plus… what’s this about a robot apocalypse?! Incredible scenes.
Do the title last
If you take nothing else from this blog, if you’ve glossed over it all, only to have your roving eye finally rest on the bottom: Write your title after you’ve written the blog itself.
There are all sorts of reasons for this. One is that writing a title can be as time-consuming as the blog itself, and feeling like you’re stumbling at the very first hurdle can be disheartening. Best to just get stuck right in with the meat and potatoes.
Secondly, a good title sums up the essence of your entire piece, and how do you know what that essence might be until you’ve written it? Even if you’ve planned the blog meticulously before writing, there will always be subtle nuances and callbacks which you can incorporate to make the title better.
Beefing up your content? Better call Sookio!
Of course, if time is of the essence, you could always trust your content creation to an award-winning team of experienced specialists like us. We’ve helped hundreds of businesses nail their approach to blogging, thought leadership, whitepapers, web copy, and more.
Contact us right now this second, and let’s chat about turbocharging your digital presence.