When it comes to writing your blog posts, is the title you choose a bit of an afterthought? Something thrown together and shoved up there without a second glance? Have you ever considered if the title you pick makes a difference to how many people actually go on to read the post?
While there will usually only be a few little words in your post title, they are the most powerful ones that you’ll write because, for most of your potential readers, it will be the only thing they see. If they’re seeing a link to your blog via RSS, in a social media stream, in search engine results or as a link from another blog, that’s pretty much all you’ve got to entice them to click through and read on.
So what kinds of titles do well?
Firstly, think grabby (yes I made that word up, but I’m sticking with it!). You want your titles to attract attention and draw people in, so use your words to grab them by the shoulders and shake them! Let them know, in no uncertain terms, that this is an article they need to stop and read.
Another thing that really encourages people to read on is the promise of solving a problem they have. You know your readers better than anybody does, so think, what problems do they have? What can you write about that will help them? Mixing these two things together is a powerful combination and one I often use for the Green Room.
Finally, ‘How to’ articles or numbered lists will often outperform other kinds of posts. Blog readers always want to know how to do things and numbered lists are great because they let the reader know exactly what they’re getting. Usually (although not exclusively) a shorter list will also work better as people have limited attention spans online – they want answers but they want them quickly!
I could have called this post ‘Great Blog Post Title Ideas’ but you probably would have seen that and thought “meh, OK, maybe I’ll read that later. I guess I could do with improving mine.” However by calling it ‘One Stupidly Easy Trick That Will Get More People Reading Your Blog’, you’re much more likely to click through because it starts by using powerful and grabby words (stupidly easy). It then communicates a problem you have (lack of blog readers) and the promise that I can solve it for you.
Think of the language you use. Does it intrigue and encourage people to want to see more? An example we always use at The Blogcademy is that of a fashion blogger’s outfit posts. If you were to see a post titled “Daily Outfit: 27th August 2013”, well, fair enough, you know what you’re getting, but it’s hardly the most thrilling sounding article is it? You can probably take it or leave it. However if that blogger was to instead call her post “You Look Like a Mistress at a Funeral!” well, I bet many more people would want to click through to see what that looked like!”
Finally, and this is a bit of a side note, but a very important one – double and triple check spelling and grammar in your titles. Not only do first impressions really count but if you have to then go back and edit the title once the article has been published, the permalink will change so any external links to this post will then be broken.
So you have a title that is both fantastically grabby and promises to solve a problem, what else can you do to ensure that people read on?
The first few lines of the article are key because, again, if your potential reader is viewing your site via RSS or from a Facebook preview this is all they’ll see. If your first few lines aren’t enticing they probably won’t click through to read more. Even if they’re already on your blog, if the first paragraph doesn’t excite them they’ll likely just click away.
In a similar vein, a big beautiful image at the top of an article will always grab someone’s attention a lot quicker and easier than anything you have to say. Big blocks of text (especially online) are intimidating and so breaking them up with pretty pictures is a great trick to keep people scrolling and reading on. I’ll also often use images that aren’t exactly relevant to the article I’m writing. It may not be conventional practice but it seems to work for me. When I’m reading a blog, I’d much rather see some beautiful images alongside what I was reading than something obvious and uninspiring… like a boring stock image of a computer!
Well that actually ended up being three stupidly easy tricks but I guess it’s always better to under-promise and over-deliver, right? So tell me, do you have a formula as to how you title your blog posts?