The difference between a good blog and a great blog, and between a great blog and an incredible blog, is attention to detail.
A good blog has:
- Meaningful content
- Engaging layout
- Frequent updates
- Charismatic tone
A great blog has:
- Relevant, current, enticing content
- Immersive layout
- Up-to-the-minute updates on current information
- Irresistible personality
Taking it up another notch to craft a truly incredible blog means finessing every detail. This guide won’t (and really can’t—it would take a novel) explain every detail that needs attention in order to create an incredible reading experience when blogging. What it will do is guide bloggers in the right direction when it comes to one of the most overlooked details in the industry: blog post titles.
Are blog post titles really overlooked?
Bloggers might not think so. After all, blogging 101 is about providing relevant content that’s engaging while also being search engine optimized, and SEO focuses quite a bit on blog post titles. But a title that’s simply search engine optimized is not amazing. In fact, given the tried and true methods of SEO, such strategies have created a crop of bland, forgettable titles, and a generation of writers who think that titling their blog posts is as simple as using a couple of keywords.
Certainly, a plain, search engine optimized title can stand on a good blog. All else being great, even a great blog can get away with mundane How-To’s. But to take blogging to the next level, today’s bloggers need to put a bit more effort into their titles.
- Be Patient
What could patience have to do with creating an amazing blog post title? Being patient means not titling your post right off the bat. If you must have a title to work under, use a working title. A working title is for your eyes only. Don’t sit and fantasize over titles and then try to create content. If the content is awesome, you can bet that an amazing title is just waiting to be found for it. Prioritize the content, and the title will follow. Write the best blog post you possibly can and then give it a title that does it justice.
- Be Honest
This is important. Really important, given the number of bloggers out there giving in to the desire to draw clicks with sensationalized titles. Of course, your title should be sensational, but the difference between sensational and sensationalized is honesty. An honest, sensational title does not misrepresent your content—it just represents it in the most intriguing or exciting way.
Dishonest titles rack up clicks, but they also increase bounce-rate and click-back. Bounce rate: when the user doesn’t click anything else on your page. That is, the search engine served them a dishonest title, they click it, read the article (because it’s a decent article), but then decline to explore by clicking further links on the blog. Click back: when the user arrives on the page, then immediately hits the back button.
Both click-back and bounce-rate are important to SEO—so you see, even if your dishonest title is search engine optimized, it can do you more harm than good.
- Be Informative
This is a subset of being honest—the blog post titles you choose when blogging should inform the reader of what they’re about to read. This goes a bit beyond honesty in that honesty can be vague; informative titles are both honest and clear. Some titles require a greater level of detail than others, depending on what they’re trying to convey. “Creative Cupcake Frosting Fun” gives the reader a fairly good idea of what to expect. “Hot New Movies in Theaters Now” does not. Why are these movies hot? What kind of movies are they? When is “now?” Detail doesn’t have to mean adding more words, only more descriptive ones: “Sizzling Summer Films for 2014,” for example is actually fewer words, but the reader knows that these are going to be movies that are “hot” because they’re sexy, and that “now” refers to the summer of 2014. If you’ve ever clicked on Hot New Movies in Theaters Now and found a list of action flicks from 2011, you can understand the users’ frustration with vague titles.
And just like honest titles, clear and informative titles help prevent click-back and bounce-rate—it’s another SEO win without sacrificing style or content in your blog post titles!
- Be Tempting
“Sizzling Summer Films for 2014” has a lot more going for it than just being informative. It tempts the reader, and not just because it’s sexy-sounding. In addition to being honest and informative, you want your blog post titles to be appealing. Appeal comes in many different flavors, which is a good thing, since there are so many different types of blogging.
o Sex appeal
Don’t wear out this one, but if the content of the post is seductive in some way, don’t shy away from it. Some subjects are very well suited to blog post titles that steam up the page: muscle cars, movies with Hollywood’s most beautiful bodies, skimpy fashion, and relationship advice designed to leave the reader (and the object of their love) smitten.
o Brain appeal
Regardless of the field, if you’re blogging to attract those with more than a passing interest in the subject and you plan to get into technical detail, advertise it in your title. This does two things: it makes it more likely for those who have an unquenchable interest in the finer points of, for example, France’s finest red wines, to find your post. It also lets the user who just wants to know whether to serve a red or white with their baked chicken tonight that your blogging is a bit more in depth. If they’re still curious, they’ll click through and visit—if not, you’ve avoided an unwanted click-back or a higher bounce-rate.
o Emotional appeal
Emotional appeal is a broad concept, because technically speaking all of your blog post titles should accurately appeal to the user’s emotions. A diatribe on the objectification of women’s bodies in Hollywood should be titled in a far different manner than a post debating whether Keira Knightley or Salma Hayek rocked their beach bods better when caught on film by the paparazzi. Both are legitimate topics, and both deserve titles that represent them. Consider the emotions behind the post and the emotions you expect your readers to feel when enjoying them, and weave those emotions into your blog post titles.
o Educational appeal
While it’s wise to keep away from “how to tie your shoes”-type blog post titles, if your blogging is a form of teaching, you do need to make that known in your titles. As long as you keep in mind that educational appeal isn’t the only appeal of your blog, it’s fine to tack a how to/guide type phrase on. If you can express the educational nature of the blog without doing so, in an appealing way, that’s fine too.
- Be Concise
Yes, attention spans really are that short. No matter how appealing, your title should never be more like a paragraph than a sentence. Length does more than scare away those with short attention spans; the more concise your appealing title is, the more impact it will have.
- So about that SEO…
The essence of SEO is not gaming the search engine with buzzwords. Bloggers with great blog post titles will fine that they already are “optimized” most of the time. If you’ve been informative, honest, and concise, there’s not much more you need to do to truly optimize a title. If your blogging subject is one that lends itself to keywords, by all means, integrate one into the title, but only if you are following all of our other basic rules on creating amazing blog post titles in the process.
Have your own tips for writing great blog post titles? Share with us in the comment section bellow.
This post was written by Avishai Sam Bitton.
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