If you are familiar with basic inbound marketing strategies and SEO, you probably understand the importance of blogging for your business. However, have you considered that the title of your blog post is potentially just as significant (if not more) than the content of your post?
Not convinced that your headline or title really matters as long as your content is rich with information? Let’s look at the numbers.
Of blog browsers, only two out of ten individuals will read the content of the post; however, an average of eight out of ten browsers will read the title or headline of a blog post. Knowing that most likely only 20% of your potential readers will move on to read the body of your post, you should dedicate a large portion of your blog writing efforts to hooking the 80% that do read blog titles with well-formulated and thought out content that will draw them in.
First things first [4 common errors to avoid].
Before focusing on specific strategies that can improve your blog post titles, let’s consider some of the major turn-offs that will keep potential readers from clicking through to your post or reading on once they have arrived on your page.
1. Don’t sound like an instruction manual.
According to Hubspot, blog titles with the words “how to” in their headline performed 49% worse than other similar titles lacking this phrase. Similarly, they found that headlines including the word “tip” decreased the title’s clickability by 59%. The marketing giant drew the conclusion that these phrases work to draw in individuals that are looking for “how-to” style guides, but were not effective in appealing to browsers looking for more general information on the topic.
2. Avoid over-optimizing your keywords.
Although we all know that keywords are crucial for SEO rankings, overusing keywords to the point of sounding robotic and impersonal can be a major turn-off to potential readers. Even worse using too many keywords can actually HURT your SEO ranking. We will explore the best practices for keyword use later in this post (if you are one of the 20% that make it through)!
3. Consider spam email filters.
If you blog post is part of an email marketing campaign, be careful to avoid words in your title that could trigger email filters to sort your message into the user’s spam folder. Some of these common “trigger” words include “free,” “magic,” and “cure.”
4. Watch your adjectives.
Another Hubspot study showed that headlines containing positive identifiers such as “best” and “always” did 14% worse than titles that avoided the use of these words.
So, what can I do? [5 ways to formulate effective headlines].
Now that we have reviewed what NOT to do when creating blog headlines, let’s jump into what you can do to hook readers, and keep them reading your informative and well-written content. Some of the key aspects of the headline to focus on are detailed below.
1. Use keywords to your advantage.
It is ALWAYS important to write for your reader and not for search engine results and rankings. However, this said, it is important to take keywords and SEO rankings into consideration when choosing your title.
A quick and easy way to figure out optimal keywords is to use the Google Keyword Planner. A quick analysis with this tool will ensure you are choosing at least one word or phrase to boost your content’s SEO ranking.
2. Consider the length.
The ideal number of words or characters to use in your title will vary depending on where you are publishing your content. No matter where you are publishing, one rule always ring’s true: keep it short and sweet.
Research shows that if you want to rank well with search engines you should try to keep your title to 70 characters or less. Otherwise, it will be cut off in the results. Want to post your content to social media sites like Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn? Hubspot has analyzed the breakdown across sites, with results showing titles containing 8-12 words perform better on Twitter, while headlines with 12-14 words in them got the most Facebook likes.
3. Be Honest with your reader.
With access to so much content on the internet, it is important to be completely honest with your readers regarding your blog content. When reading traditional magazines, the reader sees everything up front－images, content, facts; but when browsing a subject of interest in a search engine potential readers rely solely on the summary in your title to decide if it is worth reading on.
Don’t try to trick readers into clicking on your blog title with false advertising or fancy claims, as this will be a turn off in the long term. Instead, try to reflect the true content of your piece in the title. With the overwhelming amount of content on any given topic, readers value the authenticity of their sources more than ever.
4. Incorporate some proven strategies.
Another key component of crafting a clickable title is being clever, funny and creative. This is where the fun comes in! Below are a few trusted techniques to help you formulate unique headlines that will hook readers immediately:
- Try posing a question: Formatting an, otherwise boring, title into a question format is a proven method to help your title rank well in search engines. Since most people search for their topic of choice in a question form (e.g. Who is Wes Foster?) this will automatically yield excellent SEO results for your post.
- Alliteration always: Playing with words in your title through alliteration is a wonderful way to add some fun and readability to your title.
- Show them you can count: Using numbers in your headlines is a great way to peak the interest of a reader and draw them in. It is a time-tested strategy that you can see across various media platforms including magazines, newspapers and blogs. I mean that’s why you chose to continue reading this post, right?
- Spice things up with adjectives [but not too many]: Using powerful descriptors is an easy way to make your title stand out to your readers. And don’t just focus on positive adjectives. Sometimes negative descriptors can be even more effective!
5. Consider a generator.
Still not sure how to craft the perfect title? There are an abundance of useful title and topic generators out there! Some of the most popular generators include: