Have you ever wondered why some blog posts draw more traffic that others, and why specific posts get more attention when you share them on social media? It could be as simple as the post’s headline or title, which is often the only thing people see (especially on Twitter) before they decide whether or not to click through and read your content. So you must make every headline great.
Think up titles that maximize your post’s ability to grab attention.
If you can consistently do this with your post titles, chances are good you’ll increase new traffic – and return traffic – to your website. But while you do want to generate interest in your post by choosing a title that makes people want to read it, that doesn’t mean you’re aiming to trick readers. It just means you utilize certain words and phrases that tend to make people click through more than others. Bottom line, your content must not only appeal to readers’ needs, it has to deliver.
Easier said than done, right? Here are a few tried-and true tips to write more compelling blog post titles.
- Ask a question pertinent to your target audience. Could This Headline Technique Double Your Click-Throughs Too?
- Help solve a problem. Authors: 15 Tips To Increase Your Productivity
- Tell readers what NOT to do. Ten Tweets You Should Never Send
- Share a secret you’ve learned: The Secret To Better Book Sales – I haven’t written this one yet!
- Offer valuable guidance. 15 Easy Ways To Increase Your Twitter Engagement
- Encourage creativity. 101 Fabulous Blog Topic Ideas
- Inspire readers and/or appeal to an emotion. Buy Your Own Roses
- Be a resource. How To Market Your 99 Cent Book Sale On The Cheap
- Strong, negative headlines often draw attention. 45 Ways To Sabotage Your Social Media Success
- Include a number in your title. My Ten Biggest Blog Blunders Ever
- Make a direct reference to every reader. Is Your Blog A Snooze? – I haven’t written this one yet, either.
- Offer tips that will make reader’s life easier in some way. 5 Simple Steps To A Super Blogatude
Punch up the phrasing with “power” words
Once you have a working title for your blog post, jazz it up. Swap out the common for strong words that convey what your content will do for the reader – solve a problem, explain something they want or need to understand, provide valuable guidance, or walk them through a step-by-step instructional post.
Try emotional, eye-catching words such as fabulous, awesome, mind-numbing, fantastic, powerful, and fascinating. On the flip side, negative words also draw attention, words such as hate, don’t, never, dumb, and mistakes. Example: “10 things people hate about …” Go for shock value once in a while; just don’t over-do, overuse, or over-depend on any one type of headline. You’ll need to mix them up.
And do you see a trend in my blog titles above? That’s right, most contain a number. People respond to them – and some research shows the number “10” gets the most hits. Who knew?
Keep titles short
Hubspot reports that their bloggers shoot for post titles with a maximum of 70 characters (including spaces). Buffer bloggers say shoot for six words. This can be tough to do, but worth the effort; the shorter the title, the more likely it’ll be re-tweeted on Twitter, and it also insures the title won’t get cut off in email subject lines when your post goes out to subscribers.
Give a nod to SEO
I readily admit that I built my blog with little or no consideration of SEO strategy. But I’m not saying do what I did. In fact, I wonder how much faster it might have grown if I’d paid more attention to using keywords in my blog titles. Just keep in mind that the old rules of repetitive keyword use not only no longer apply, they can actually make Google hate your blog. So balance is key.
Note: The free Firefox plugin Page Rank Checker will tell you how you rate in search results compared to competitors. If you want to know more, here’s an in-depth article about On-Page SEO Best Practices to Follow For 2014.
Think up a couple of “big list” posts
If you choose the right subject, a “big list” post could turn out to be pure gold. I dashed off 101 Fabulous Blog Topic Ideas not thinking it would be a big deal, and it became my all-time most-read post. It’s shown up as #1 or #2 in Google searches for months. You can do this, too, with a subject of your own choosing that is pertinent to your readers.
Throw in a how-to post once in a while
Early on in my blogging career I realized that everything I was learning to do, my readers at some point would need to learn, as well. So I began to document the steps I took to set up accounts on book sales platforms and everything else. It had a dual purpose, actually. I had the steps written down if I ever needed to repeat the process, and I had new content and could turn my self-instructional guide into a how-to post for my blog. It’s a great way to add value.
And pssst, fiction writers: Don’t think this doesn’t apply to you. You can come up with how-to topics, and you don’t have to fall back on writerly subjects to do it. Every work of fiction includes characters who engage in nonfiction topics – gardening, cooking, a wine connoisseur, you name it. Fiction authors can find a way to pull a few of these recurring nonfiction subjects into their blogs, especially if you write a series. “How to turn your home into a chi-chi spa for a day” written by your protagonist – something like that would be fun for your fans. You have to be creative!
Don’t just tease, deliver
You want to establish expectations with your post titles, but it’s imperative that you follow through. If your content falls flat and your reader is disappointed, they may not pay attention to the claims you make going forward. Your headlines should be designed to draw people in, but your content is what will keep them coming back.
Readers, what’s your strategy for post headlines? What type of headline are you most likely to click through and read? What blog post headline of yours has gotten the most reads? Please leave a comment and share!
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