In the sea of content that is the Internet, bloggers are constantly looking for the edge that will distinguish their work. Title writing is an unappreciated, undervalued skill in the modern marketplace. Without a compelling title, great content often floats by without making a splash. Post an intriguing headline, on the other hand, and your content has the chance to spread around networks in your industry. Ideal Web titles are clickable, meaning they make users want to read more, and searchable, meaning social engines recognizes relevant keywords. Some of the most prominent websites built their following because of quality titles.
The stats tell the story: Eight out of 10 people will read headlines, but only 2 out of 10 will read the body content, according to Copyblogger.com. A little more attention to titles can have an enormous effect on your blog.
Know Your Readers
A good title starts with a good topic. If your readers aren’t interested in what you’re writing about, no title will draw them in. Luckily, plenty of outlets can clue you into what your readers talk about and think about. Follow authoritative blogs in your industry to keep a pulse on the conversation. You don’t want to mimic these websites, but you should keep up with their content for inspiration and ideas. For a real-time look at what your target readers are talking about, search relevant terms on Twitter. Social media will play an integral part in your blog’s success, and you should be building connections with like-minded users whether or not they read your content. With an accurate sense of your industry’s conversations, you’ll be better equipped to write relevant content — and titles.
Create a Sense of Urgency
Readers don’t have time to look at uninteresting, casual content. Your blog post should have an important take away, and the headline should reflects it. The serial list-makers at Buzzfeed are notorious for reflecting a sense of urgency (even when there is none) in their headlines.
— BuzzFeed (@BuzzFeed) January 14, 2014
While “30 reasons” lists are overdone, Buzzfeed adds its proverbial buzz to this Greyhound slideshow by telling readers “You Should Adopt One.” If applicable, readers should learn what they’re going to get out of the article in the headline. You can also create a sense of urgency by making definitive claims. (ex. “This Tip Will Boost Your Chances of Getting a Job”) or address previously unknown information (ex. “Report: New Diet Delivers Results”).
Be a Thief
No, you shouldn’t steal headlines word for word. There’s no harm in using headline templates that have a history of generating page hits, however. Copyblogger.com revealed 10 headline formulas that work, leaving blank spaces for bloggers to tailor the content. They may not all apply to your blog theme, but they’ll stir your imagination. Find your own headline muses to maintain a stream of fresh ideas. If your blog deals with the digital world, G+ from iAcquire offers a look at how one prominent digital agency titles its content. If you discuss food and drink, Bonappetit.com may reveal some scintillating title recipes. You know a good headline when you see one, tailor it to your blog to attract eager readers.