The one thing you need to know about creating killer blog titles is…
What? What is it? You need to know…
… and that’s the point.
The title you put at the top of your blog post can make or break everything that follows. Slap a dull headline there and readers will leave before checking out the first sentence.
But… come up with a compelling headline – the kind that’s irresistible to readers – and they’ll not only read your post…
They’ll share it.
Since virality is a key goal for online content, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that writing fantastic blog titles is a skill you need to have in your arsenal.
Here’s how to do it.
Aim for Accuracy
Accuracy might seem like a dull bit of advice to start with, but it’s hugely important.
Why? Because your title must reflect the content of the post!
If it doesn’t, readers may suspect you of pulling a bait and switch – attracting them with a headline that makes promises the rest of the post can’t fulfill.
A good way to ensure you achieve this goal is to come up with a working title. It doesn’t have to be sexy – we’ll get to that later – but it does have to describe the general direction of your piece and what readers can expect to learn.
Keep Your Keywords Front and Center
Keywords aren’t everything – but they’re not nothing, either, especially when it comes to titles.
If you want your blog post to kill it on Google, then you need to make sure that you use your best keyword as close to the beginning of your title as possible.
We’ll get into more detail about how to fine-tune your headline later, but identifying keywords is a must. It’ll give you the best possible chance of getting a high SERP.
Give it Some Sexy Oomph
We’re supposed to sell the sizzle and not the steak – so add some sizzle to your blog titles to make sure they’re seductive to readers.
Let’s look at a few sexy options to try:
- Use strong language – selectively. People react to superlatives whether they’re positive or negative. In other words, using words like best, worst, brilliant, terrible, love, and hate inspire strong emotions. But… don’t overdo it. Everything can’t be the best or the worst – so choose wisely.
- Use a little alliteration. Sometimes, repeating sounds makes titles more appealing. Using two or more words that begin with the same letter can give your title a little something special.
- Add value to your headline. If you’re offering a freebie or giveaway, then bracket it at the end of your headline, like this: Creating Cheat Sheets Customers Crave [TEMPLATE]. The value is clear – and customers will click to get their hands on that enticing template you’ve promised to give them.
- Add visuals. Now, you can’t make a picture part of your title, but you can let people know that your post includes photos, videos, or an infographic. You have the choice of incorporating a word like “photos” into your title, or bracketing at the end as we did in the example above.
Adding just one sexy plus to your title can make a huge difference in the number of clicks you get for your blog post.
How many tips will I get if I read this post?
Readers love numbers. They provide important data about your blog post and help quantify the post’s value to your readers. They also provide a sense of certainty in an uncertain world.
A Conductor study found that 36% of readers preferred headlines with numbers – and that more women than men preferred them.
You don’t have to use a number in every title, but adding them when it makes sense is smart.
Remember that Short is Sweet
A long title might be accurate – but it’s also not likely to be very appealing or memorable.
A lot of blog posts have bloated titles that could be made a lot better. Here’s an example of a too-long headline that could be improved:
Think You Can Ignore Snapchat for Marketing? Here Are 12 Statistics That Prove You Shouldn’t
There’s nothing wrong with that title exactly, but it’s not exactly bewitching anybody with its elegance or snappiness. We might rewrite it like this:
12 Stats That Show Why Snapchat Should Be in Your Marketing Mix
Not only is the second title better – and more interesting – but it’s also shorter. We’ll explain more about why that matters in the next tip.
Another thing to keep in mind when shortening blog titles is that the rhythm of your title matters. Even if people are reading it on a screen, they still feel the rhythm as they read it. If your title’s clunky, they’ll know.
Write Titles for Search and Social
Do you want your title to show up in full when people search on Google? That means you need less than 70 characters.
Look up above. The first headline – the clunky one – has 92 characters. That means the title will be cut off when it appears on Google.
The second headline has only 63 characters. Readers will be able to see it in its entirety – and that can make a difference when it comes to the number of clicks you get.
Now let’s talk about Twitter. You know that the limit for a Tweet is 140 characters – so what does that mean for your blog title?
According to one study, titles shared on Twitter should have between 120 and 130 characters, leaving enough room for the Tweeter to include a brief comment or hashtag.
Of course, Twitter users have the option of shortening a link using bit.ly or another site, but then all the time you put into creating a killer title is wasted because users will have to click to see it.
Get a Second Opinion
Sometimes, there’s no better way to fine-tune a title than to get another pair of eyes on it – particularly if you’ve been working on it for a while.
Have a trusted friend who’s good with words? A marketing buddy who knows what customers want to read? Try sending them your headline and workshopping it a bit.
If you don’t have someone to help, then put the headline away and sleep on it. After a day or two, you’ll be able to come back to it with fresh eyes – and fresh insight.
Want Your Titles to Slay?
Stop settling for subpar titles and insist on the best. The tips we’ve shared here will help you craft compelling, killer titles that will have readers clamoring for your content.