How to choose a great title for your blog post

How to choose a great title for your blog post?  Put yourself in your readers’ shoes.

When you’re scrolling through Facebook (or the New York Times), do you click every link you see? No! You click the ones that intrigue you somehow.  So, you need to intrigue your audience. Your title needs to pass the ‘so what’ test.

Your title needs to give your reader a reason to invest their time in clicking through to your post.

If the title doesn’t grab them, the rest of your post is invisible

If your title fails, if it doesn’t hook someone, then nothing else you’ve written will be seen by them.  Your killer second paragraph, your spectacular infographic, that hilarious image, your amazing ‘how to’ video. All toast, if they haven’t clicked through because your title left them cold.

Your title is king.

Titles that work

Here are some good strategies for engaging blog post titles, and examples from my own blog, and my clients’ blogs.

Questions. By which I mean, questions about the reader. We are all more interested in ourselves than in anything else. For example:

‘How to’ articles.

Listicles. The research says that odd numbers do better than even numbers. Go figure.

The counter-intuitive or suprising.

Fear. Generally I’m all for positive marketing. But evidently I’m not above using a little fear to grab someone’s attention…

Offers, news, excitement. Obviously.

Generate some actual news. If you’ve done a survey, or a piece of research, or uncovered an interesting new fact, well then, there you are. Share the news! What you have there is the holy grail – engaging original content.

FAQs. What is it that people are constantly asking you?  Voila!  A perfect blog post title.  That’s exactly where this article came from, because people keep asking me how to choose a great title for their blog post.

The inside track. Share some of your story with your fans.

Testimonials. This is an example of what marketing people call ‘social proof’. We’re all very influenced by hearing what other people think, whether we realise it or not.

Don’t let your testimonials languish as little quotes stuck on a ‘testimonials’ page somewhere. Make each one into a blog post. Add a great image. Tell the story of what you did and how great everyone felt about it.

Blog posts for SEO vs Facebook vs email

Not all blog posts have the same objectives. For the one you are about to write, what do you want it to achieve?

  • To bring people to your site from Google? (The dark art of SEO, or optimising your title for Google and other search engines. I’ll be writing an article on this soon…)
  • To get good engagement on Facebook?
  • For you to email it to your mailing list as part of an ongoing educational or entertaining series?
  • For you to send as to clients (or prospective clients), to promote in more detail some element of what your business offers?
  • Something else?

This should drive your choice of title.

Quirky and engaging for real human beings is good for Facebook.

‘How tos’ are great for Google.

And so on.

Use Google’s suggestions for inspiration

If you want a good title for Google purposes, then start typing relevant search terms into Google, and see what suggestions it makes.  Look at what it’s autopredicting for you as you type.

Then when you’re done look at the bottom of the search page where Google will show you related search terms.

‘Carbonara without cream’

For example, it’s getting towards dinner time for me now, so to find an example for you I just went to Google and typed in ‘how do you make spaghetti carbonara.’  I noticed as I typed that Google’s other guesses included ‘how do you make tagliatelle carbonara’, so that could have been a direction for me to explore. The ‘spaghetti’ page was pretty full, so if I wanted to compete, writing a ‘tagliatelle’ version could be an easier route to Google prominence.

But actually the thing that caught my eye was at the bottom of the spaghetti carbonara page, where one of the related search terms was ‘carbonara without cream’. This in fact was exactly what I was thinking of.  I clicked through and found some recipes for spaghetti carbonara without cream, but none that were actually used the words ‘carbonara without cream’ in their title. That’s a phrase Google just told me people are searching for.

Conclusion: writing an article called ‘Carbonara without cream’ would likely help me rank well on Google when people search for that, because there’s a gap for content with exactly that title.

If I were a cookery writer, obviously. But the principle is the same in your field.

Have a surf around for search terms which Google is suggesting in your area, which don’t already have a well-matched piece of content. Then, write that piece of content.

Things to avoid

  • Flat statements (use questions, intrigue, playfulness – make sure you pass the ‘so what’ test)
  • Talking about yourself (talk to your reader, about THEIR interests)
  • Inauthenticity (stay true to your own voice)
  • Convoluted, passive language (use clear, direct words, like you’re talking to a fellow human being)
  • Jargon (even if your reader is in a technical job, they’re still a human being)
  • Overly long titles (keep it as succinct as you can)

Make sure your article delivers

So, there you have it.  How to choose a great title for your blog post.  Hopefully you’ve got a whole list of fantastic blog titles. Your peeps are going to be hooked, yessir.

Now, I’m not running a clickbait academy here. It absolutely matters that the content of your blog post delivers on what your title has promised.  And not just because you’re a decent human being and all.  But because the clickbait strategy – sucking the reader into a piece of crud by crafting an irresistable title – will ultimately see you penalised by Google and Facebook and everyone. Your post might get a good click through rate, but at the expense of a terrible bounce rate.

And I’m happy to help

Your head and your hard drive are both probably full of content that your audience would just love to hear about.  Your passion for what you do, written down, is contagious.

Brainstorming great blog ideas with my clients is one of my favourite activities. Plus then helping you get a great article together underneath that of course.

If you’d like some help, just get in touch.

Image: Pixabay

About Jessica Kennedy

Authored by Jessica Kennedy, the Marketing Chihuahua. Jessica writes text for the websites of small businesses and charities, and provides coaching in blogging and social media. She really enjoys helping people and organisations express themselves fluently online, in painless and practical ways.