Ever been into a newsagents and bought a magazine just to find out the “7 quickest ways to an orgasm”? Or maybe “Which Take That member you’ll marry”? These days I’m more likely to buy “The secret to young looking skin”…
Titles have the power to decide whether someone buys a magazine/reads an article. It’s the reason the covers of magazines have the best titles on the front.
Blog post titles (and email titles) are the same. Someone will decide whether to read your blog post based upon the title. It doesn’t matter how good your blog post is, if the title is not one that sounds compelling, no-one is going to click. Because people always have a choice whether to read something or not. There’s a lot of competition out there for someone’s time and attention.
How do you write a title that someone wants to click?
1. Show you are solving a problem your audience has
Your blog post title should be relevant to the content of the blog post (I know it sounds obvious). We would never advocate “clickbait” headlines that don’t deliver on what they promise as that loses the trust of your audience (and whilst they may click on the blog post to read it, they’re likely to become disillusioned and that’s not a great start to becoming a client!).
The blog post itself should be helping your audience. We assume you’re reading this because you want help with writing a blog post title. You need to show in the title what you are going to help them with. It doesn’t have to be something detailed or complex, but it must show they will learn something (even if it is something like which Take That member you’ll marry) that they are interested to know.
2. Focus on your audience
The same headline is not going to appeal to everyone (in the same way the same blog post won’t appeal to everyone). Think about who your audience is, the reason they might be interested in your blog post, what motivates them and the language they use.
Try looking at magazines your target audience reads and see the kind of titles (and language) they use. You can often adapt one of those headlines for your blog post – just swapping the relevant words.
Cosmopolitan has titles including “Get the love you deserve #nosettling”, “Smart ways to double your money” and “20 unbeatable confidence tricks from women with I want that attitude”. All the kind of titles that could easily be adapted to different subjects.
Woman and Home’s target audience is different and their titles reflect that “Are you sitting on a fortune? The surprise finds worth thousands”, “75 ways to add instant glamour to your home” and “The unlikely eco-warriors. How we’re all fighting climate change now”.
3. Use keywords in your blog post titles
If you are wanting your blog to be found through search engines, using the key words or phrase you want to be found for in the title will help search engines to understand that this is what you are writing about. They’re more likely to rank you higher as a result.
We wrote about why small businesses should use SEO in another blog post
4. One thing
“Find out which Take That star you’re going to marry, what their start signs are, how tall they are and what they like for breakfast” is not as compelling (or intriguing) as “Which Take That star will you marry?”. The post may talk about star signs, how tall they are, what they like for breakfast, etc but you don’t need to put everything in the title.
The best titles are short and snappy, giving enough information to want you to find out more…
5. Inside scoop
Everyone wants to know the secret sauce. They’re convinced there must be ONE thing they need to do, that they’re not doing now (probably because they don’t know about it) which is going to make the difference between success and failure. Which headline are you more likely to click on “How to get young looking skin” or “The secret to young looking skin”?
The Woman and Home headline above – “Are you sitting on a fortune? The surprise finds worth thousands” – would definitely cause me to click on the article for that very reason.
6. Suggest they’re doing something wrong
In a similar way we want to know if we’re doing something that is hindering our success. “The 3 mistakes you are making with your diet” or “Why you should never eat after 8pm” both suggest you can change one thing and be successful. And we’re all looking for the quick, easy changes that make the difference between success and failure
7. Use lists for blog post titles
Lists are very popular and for good reason. They work. Odd numbered lists actually work better. Psychologically it is because we think “17 reasons your child won’t eat vegetables” is likely to be 17 good reasons whereas 20 may have one or two not so great ones in order to make the list up to 20.
You can create some intrigue with numbered lists too (#6 will surprise you). I know this trick yet I fall for it almost every single time. I am far more likely to click on a headline that suggests one of the items on the list is a secret/unexpected reason. It’s the “secret sauce” mentioned above.
8. Switch it Round
Our best performing blog post has the title “4 reasons you shouldn’t display your prices on your website”. It’s in a sea of “Why you should” or “Should you” posts about putting prices on your website. And it stands out because it is the only one suggesting you shouldn’t.
Spoiler alert: the post itself debunks those 4 reasons and concludes that you should. But the fact I could be suggesting you don’t makes it more interesting and intriguing. It makes people think they’re going to learn something new.
It’s not a tactic to employ often, but it can be really effective when used well.
9. Quick Wins work for Blog Post Titles
Perhaps more than anything else we all want a quick win. Promising something quick or easy in the title (provided that’s what you’re delivering of course) is another good tactic. “Blogging made easy” would be something you would click on if you found blogging difficult but wanted to make it work. There’s a reason we all want to “lose a stone in 10 days” – it suggests short lived pain!
10. Ask questions
Questions are a good way to challenge someone’s thinking. “Are you paying more for your phone contract than you should be?” “Are you making these mistakes on your website?” They suggest someone is doing something wrong. Something that they can easily change and will make them more successful.
Writing blog post titles is a bit of an art form. But there are several tactics that can really help. I always write my titles after I have finished the blog post itself. You can then think about:
- What keywords do I want to mention?
- What is the one thing that I am helping with?
- Can I make it a list?
- Can I switch it round?
- Can I ask a question?
- Is there something in here that most people don’t know?
If you want more help with writing your blog posts (including headlines), we have a “Quick and Easy” blogging masterclass designed to help you with topics to blog about, titles, SEO and our system for writing posts quickly and easily. You can find more details here