Headlines are important. You’re working on a very limited budget of mindspace when you send a blog post out into the world. Most blog readers spend their time skimming articles in their Google Reader or Facebook streams and won’t read more than your title and first paragraph, so you better have something to rope them in early on.
On average, you have less than 40 seconds until someone decides whether or not they will commit to your blog post and finish the whole thing. It doesn’t matter if you map out a detailed cure for cancer in your post if your title isn’t interesting or intriguing enough to get people to read it in the first place.
So, how do you get people to give you a chance and read your post? What’s your best avenue for success in the arena of Blog Post Title Pick-Up Lines? Because don’t kid yourself, when you’re crafting a blog title, you’re right back in that dingy bar trying out pick-up lines on prospective companions hoping to draw enough interest where by the end of it, everyone’s goals are met and everyone involved leaves satisfied.
You’ve got to be creative and risky enough to draw people to you and at the same time promise something everyone in your audience will be interested in learning more about. In essence, you need to be a death metal chipmunk with promises of marshmallow dreams. This post is about how to be that chipmunk.
4 Pillars of Post Titles
Your blog post is interesting. If it wasn’t, you wouldn’t have spent the time to write it. No one sets out saying, “I’m going to write the shittiest blog post this side of the Mason-Dixon Line!” Your task now is to encapsulate the essence of that interest into a quick headline that will grab people’s attention. A good blog post headline meets these qualifications:
Relevant – Your blog title should have something to do with your blog post, even if that’s not immediately evident. I’ll bet you thought the title of this post was completely unrelated to this post until you learned the topic and read through the third paragraph. Writing a relevant title doesn’t mean that people understand the relevancy as soon as they read it, but if your readers get all the way through the post and there’s still no connection in their minds between what you have written and what you’ve titled the post, you have failed.
Clever – Writing a clever title doesn’t mean having the poetic sensibilities of Whitman or the vocabulary of Shakespeare. It means putting thought into the quip that will announce your post to the world and not pulling the old church hymnal trick of simply naming the post the first line of the blog itself. It’s not uncommon for writers to spend exorbitant amounts of time working on their blog titles. If you find yourself stuck on coming up with a great one, that’s normal. Keep at it.
Intriguing – I’m not going to spend much time on this one because it should be self-evident that you need to use your title to intrigue people enough to draw them in to read what you’ve written. This is why titles with numbers and lists do so well (i.e. “10 Ways to Increase Your Blog’s SEO”, “7 New Ways To Teach a Cat To Play Basketball”, etc.). Not only do you explicitly express what is in the blog (relevant), you aren’t giving away the farm (Reserved) and getting your readers to check deeper into the post to get the extent of the information.
Reserved – This doesn’t mean hold back in your titles. Well, in a way it does. I’m not saying you can’t curse or shock people with your blog titles though. The area that you need to stay reserved in is not revealing too much of your content in the title. If someone who is skimming titles feels they have gotten all they need from your title, what makes you think they’ll click through to your post and actually read the explanation? They won’t. It’s tempting to try to include a lot of info in the title to draw people in, but that can easily backfire. Give just enough info to draw in their interest, but save all your tricks and tips for the post itself.
Titles can make or break a blog post. They can mean the difference between the purple cow or death metal chipmunk that grabs people and draws them in or the black and white boring mess people drive by and forget. Spend time writing, creating and crafting relevant, intriguing, clever, reserved titles to go along with the work you’ve put into writing great content. As they say in show-business, “Gotta put the butts in the seats.”
Can you think of a time that you’ve read a post entirely because of the title? Which of your titles have worked best with your audience and readers? What tactics have you used to help craft perfect titles for your posts?