How to Pick Effective Article Titles for Blog Posts

Published Dec 28, 2013 by James Parsons in SEO
Estimated read time of 1 minute and 18 seconds1 1
The views of contributors are their own, and not necessarily those of SEOBlog.com

Blog Post Title

You have crafted the perfect blog post. It is compelling, informative and has just enough buzz quality to keep your followers talking. Before you press that publish button, you must choose the most important words of your post: the title. These crucial words determine whether your reader will want to continue threading the rest of your post.

Your blog titles do not only appear on your site. They appear on social media sites whenever anyone shares a link. The appear partially or in full in search engine results whenever people are searching topics. Other bloggers link to them when they are writing on similar subjects, and they appear in news feeds. Even within the context of your own site, blog titles give readers a picture of what is in your blog archives.

Something with this much cyber currency cannot be considered lightly. Based solely on your post title, there is no surefire way to know if your post will get heavy traffic or just be ignored. There are some habits of good practice, however, when it comes to creating a good title.

Help the Reader See an Immediate Benefit

Example Compelling Title

Almost every reader who comes to your site wants to know what is in it for him before he reads. It is not a personal bias against you, the writer. It is mere practicality. With the flood of information that is available on the Internet and the limited amount of time people have to surf, it is vital to read the things that do not feel like time wasters.

Many people who use search engines are trying to find the information that can help them solve a problem or complete a task. The headlines that usually grab their attention are those that start with “How to” and “Tips for” or those that present themselves as lists. For example, if this were the blog post (which it is, of course), it could read “Tips for Writing Good Blog Post Titles.”

Blog posts themselves should be be useful, but the job of a title is to draw the reader in and make them want to read. The best way to draw and keep attention is to tell readers what reward they get for the time they invest in your post. It keeps them talking about it enough that others will follow and read, too.

Curiosity is always a good motivator for getting people to read your blog post. If you ask a burning question that others may have asked themselves, you will earn attention. Most readers will continue to engage your blog post simply to see if you give a good answer to the question. Others will be reading to see if you are giving them something to really think about even if you do not answer the question.

In the best case scenarios, blog post titles posed as questions start a lively discussion among readers. This is a golden opportunity to keep your followers engaged and to give your own valid opinions on a particular topic. It might also be a chance to listen to what rises in the discussion. This is a good place to get leads for future blog posts.

Second Person, Plural

Whenever you use the word “you” or “your” in a post, it is mostly a general term used to speak to an audience. The magic of this word, though, lies in its ability to make every single personal feel as if your post is written specifically to him. This is a hallmark of personalization. It achieves the feat of giving your reader a personal benefit through personal address. It almost does not matter that you are using the word “you” to mean anyone reading. Every person believes your wisdom and advice is meant personally for him.

Keep It Short, Sweeten It With Keywords

Word Counter Screenshot

Since you know that many people will find your post through search engine results for their desired topics, it only makes sense to use keywords in the title. The right keywords could help your blog and individual posts rise fast in the results. Search engines are programmed to use titles along with tags and other identifiers to help determine what pages and posts are all about. Crafting a well-thought out title based on keyword research helps your post gain high ranking and a lot more visibility.

It is also a way to capture the attention of those who are scanning search engine results to determine where to click. If they see the right keywords, they are more likely not to pass over your page. The fact that people scan is also a reason to keep the title short. In the sea of information that is returned, people are less likely to read lengthy titles. Most search engines only include up to 65 or 70 characters, so if your title it too long, searchers will only see part of it. I often use Wordcounter.net to make sure I don’t go over this 70 character limit.

Be Funny and Ridiculous

Funny Article

Although many of the readers who find your post will be looking for serious information, it does not always have to come in a serious package. The trick with funny titles, though, is every reader will not share your sense of humor. Sometimes, the humor misses the mark and the reader becomes frustrated and will not read your post. A good rule of thumb is to use humor sparingly well. If you know you are not a funny person by nature, do not attempt to be funny as a blog personality. Your natural tendencies will come shining through.

If you do decide to try your hand at humor, do not limit it to your title. You can also use the title to play off of a funny picture or graphic that is included with your post. Readers become more interested if you make connections they have not considered.

Tell a Secret

One of the best ways to keep people attentive is to let them know you are going to tell them a secret. If you put the word secret into a headline, they want to read the post to be a part of the confidential club called Those In The Know. It is human nature to want to be a part of the in-crowd, and positioning your blog post as one that gives secret access is a powerful tactic.

The truth is a well-crafted title or headline appeals to three characteristics of human nature: a sense of curiosity; a hunger for news and things that are new and different around them; and a desire to have more things that benefit their own self-interests. Of the three, self-interest takes the lead as the most effective in creating a title. People are just more likely to become invested in the things that have meaning and power in their own lives.

The other component to successful title writing is creating good content. You want your post to deliver on everything that your good title promises. Anything short of this will make you lose your credibility and potentially make you slide down in search engine rankings. It is a good idea to write the headline first. Then you will know what you are promising your reader and what you must deliver in your post.

Written by James Parsons

James Parsons

James Parsons is a blogger and marketer, and is the CMO at AudienceBloom.com. When he isn’t writing at his personal blog or for HuffPo, Inc, or Entrepreneur, he is working on his next big project.

  • Rick H.

    Informative article. Didn’t know about the character limit, I’ll definitely bookmark Wordcounter.net to try for later.

Our Sponsors