How To Write A Click-Worthy Blog Title

MeerkatsMorguefile_OPHave 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.

  1. Ask a question pertinent to your target audience. Could This Headline Technique Double Your Click-Throughs Too?
  2. Help solve a problem. Authors: 15 Tips To Increase Your Productivity
  3. Tell readers what NOT to do. Ten Tweets You Should Never Send
  4. Share a secret you’ve learned: The Secret To Better Book Sales – I haven’t written this one yet!
  5. Offer valuable guidance. 15 Easy Ways To Increase Your Twitter Engagement
  6. Encourage creativity. 101 Fabulous Blog Topic Ideas
  7. Inspire readers and/or appeal to an emotion. Buy Your Own Roses
  8. Be a resource. How To Market Your 99 Cent Book Sale On The Cheap
  9. Strong, negative headlines often draw attention. 45 Ways To Sabotage Your Social Media Success
  10. Include a number in your title. My Ten Biggest Blog Blunders Ever
  11. Make a direct reference to every reader. Is Your Blog A Snooze? – I haven’t written this one yet, either.
  12. 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!

Enjoy this article? Subscribe to my blog and you’ll never miss my weekly posts! Your email address will NOT be sold, shared, abused, or rented – that’s a promise. If you’re not already, please follow @mollygreene on Twitter! And last but not least, this original content by Molly Greene is copyright protected. Mwah! Thank you so much!


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24 Responses to How To Write A Click-Worthy Blog Title

  1. Belinda Pollard August 4, 2014 at 3:33 pm #

    Good stuff, Molly. You have the marketer’s eye for blog post titles, and it shows.

    • Molly Greene August 4, 2014 at 3:43 pm #

      Thanks, Belinda. Mostly I just notice what other people do and emulate them whenever possible!

  2. Rowena May O'Sullivan August 4, 2014 at 10:54 pm #

    Thanks Molly. Your information is always invaluable.

    • Molly Greene August 5, 2014 at 8:54 am #

      Thank you so much, Rowena!

  3. N. R. Champagne August 5, 2014 at 12:04 am #

    Thanks for the wealth of information, Molly. But I find, as in many other such blogs and guides I’ve come across, that it is not geared towards fiction authors such as myself. “How-to” topics might be used by nonfiction writers, but they are not pertinent to someone who is trying to market a classic fantasy novel, for instance. I suppose it could be if the author adopts a sort of “how to write” sideline for other authors, but I’m not interested in that, and anyway I want to reach fiction readers, not other authors. But some of your other posts have been helpful, so thank you anyway for doing what you do!

    • Molly Greene August 5, 2014 at 8:53 am #

      Thanks, N. R. I disagree, though, about fiction writers finding 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!

      • Pam Newberry August 6, 2014 at 5:20 am #

        Wow…this is a wonderful blog post along with great dialogue. When I read N.R.’s comment, I said, “Yes. Yes, this is so true.” Then, when I read your reply, Molly, I said, “Oh my! I hadn’t gone there! Such a great tip!”

        This is why we so appreciate you, Molly. I need to invest more time in thinking out of the box! Woohoo! You’ve got my “creative” mind going. THANK YOU!

        And thank you, N.R. for being willing to post “my” thoughts, too! Smiles to all.

        • Molly Greene August 6, 2014 at 8:16 am #

          Thanks, Pam! I also appreciate N.R.’s comment, and I wish I’d thought to include that idea in the original post (I went back in and added it after N.R. brought it to my attention.) That’s why having a conversation and sharing ideas is so important. We help each other. Thanks to you both!

  4. Shirley Ford August 5, 2014 at 12:46 am #

    Thanks again Molly for an interesting blog – you obviously have the knack as I always read your blogs.

    • Molly Greene August 5, 2014 at 8:49 am #

      Thank you so much, Shirley! I’m always happy if it helps.

  5. Stephanie Mason August 5, 2014 at 10:57 am #

    Fabulous as always! I love your posts, Molly. They are always so valuable.

  6. N. R. Champagne August 6, 2014 at 1:30 pm #

    I’m glad my thoughts were appreciated 🙂 Thanks for the ideas, Molly, I will definitely give your them some thought. I might not want to write how-to blogs, but I definitely appreciate yours!

    • Molly Greene August 6, 2014 at 3:01 pm #

      Thanks, N.R. I love that you took the time to read and comment – always welcome on my blog!

  7. Ying Ying Shi August 6, 2014 at 1:35 pm #

    Molly, you are very creative and have great ideas on blogging. I learned a lot not only from this post, but also from your book. Your advice is must-have for bloggers.
    I always felt titles about how-to and/or containing numbers to be of extreme “selling” nature and thought people might avoid them. However, when I analyze my own behavior, it seems that I would click on them nevertheless. Probably I should try writing such titles in the future as well. Thanks Molly, I enjoy reading you.

    • Molly Greene August 6, 2014 at 3:03 pm #

      You are too kind!! I think the thing to do is try different words in post titles and see – over time – what gets the most traffic. Mwah! Thank you for your lovely comment.

  8. Jason Kong August 7, 2014 at 3:16 pm #

    Great post, Molly. Anyone interested in writing better headlines should also check out Jon Morrow’s Headline Hacks eBook.

    It’s free in exchange for an email address, but it’s really good.

    • Molly Greene August 7, 2014 at 4:03 pm #

      Thank you and thanks for the suggestion, Jason!

  9. Em Zet August 9, 2014 at 12:51 pm #

    Those are awesome.
    Couple days ago I was giving some blogging advices to my audience too.
    I feel like I’m experienced enough to say something valuable to my readers. I hope they will appreciate it.
    Good luck with your blog,


    … And sorry for my english if something was wrong in my comment. I’m from Czech republic! 🙂

    • Molly Greene August 9, 2014 at 6:07 pm #

      Thanks so much, Monica!

  10. Alison Gillespie August 10, 2014 at 6:25 am #

    Great tips. I was trained twenty plus years ago to write headlines for newspapers way before the advent of the internet! When I first started blogging about seven years ago, I used the same techniques for writing my blog headlines. That was a a huge mistake, and when I learned about SEO and began using some of the tricks/tips similar to what you mention above I began to see a big bump up in traffic to my blog.

    There are lots of great plug-ins available to those who use WordPress. The best one I have found so far is SEO by Yoast. It is really excellent for building blog titles!

    I’d love to read your ideas about more effective use of Twitter for driving up blog traffic. I see people use many different techniques, but I am not sure which ones work best. I bet there are many ways I could improve in that realm. Any thoughts or future posts on that would be appreciated!

    Thanks again for this thought provoking post.

    • Molly Greene August 10, 2014 at 8:34 am #

      Thank you so much, Alison! Great reminder about using a plugin to build in SEO. I’ve written several posts about Twitter, none specificlaly geared to how Twitter builds traffic, more about building your Twitter account. I’ll see what I can do!

  11. Jacqueline August 25, 2014 at 6:22 pm #

    I’m becoming all things Molly Greene! I’ve read several of your blog posts, you’ve inspired my new blog, I just tweeted this post here to my followers, and of course I’m a subscriber too! One of my faves is “Ten Tweets You Should Never Send” (6 words, plus #10 in title!) Thank you 🙂

    • Molly Greene August 25, 2014 at 6:33 pm #

      Thanks so much, Jacqueline! I just followed you on Twitter and I am so happy if my posts help. Best to you on your new blog!!