In July 2018, more than 79 million blogs were posted on WordPress, a content management system (CMS) popular with bloggers. This is more than 2.5 million blogs posted every day.
With so much competition, you need to make sure your blog post shines from the start. To do so, you need to know how to write a title.
It may seem like an easy thing to do, something to slap together right before you write or post your blog. But just as a book cover can impact sales, so too can your blog title impact how many people click on it and share it with others.
The right blog title will not only hook the reader but convey meaning in a powerful way.
If you’re ready to make your blog titles good enough to garner clicks and shares, then this guide’s for you. We’ll first cover basic guidelines and then dive into a step-by-step approach.
Keep reading to learn how to get your blogs noticed.
How To Write A Title: Basic Guidelines
Before you write the best blog you can, you’ll need a working title.
You’ll want to come up with a specific and clear working title because the fact is, titles matter. We’ll talk more about working titles soon.
Either way, your working title and final title should both aim to check all the boxes, as it were. Allowing yourself the space to play with multiple options for your title will permit you to find the best possible combination of words.
Why Titles Matter
The title of your blog post is the first introduction your potential readers receive. It’s the first impression, and we only get one chance to make those.
Whether you’re going to post your blog on social media networks, send it via email marketing, or rely on SEO (search engine optimization) to place it on SERPs (search engine results pages), it must meet certain standards in order to hook a reader.
Titles sell your content. For this reason, they must conform to the limitations of your intended media outlet.
Why Length Matters
One way a title can so conform is to be the proper length. You don’t need to worry about this so much with a working title, but you should think about it a little while drafting.
Too long and search engines will cut off letters, spaces, and maybe even whole words from your title. Too short and you’ll be unable to deliver the necessary clarity while hooking potential readers.
We’ll get more into our specific length suggestions later in this guide.
Why Word Choice Matters
Because you’re limited by length, the words you choose must be impactful. This means cutting overused words and opting for words that pack more punch.
Some examples of words you want to avoid are:
- Things (too generic)
- Awesome (overused)
- Great (too vague–what is greatness, anyway?)
Take a look at these words, which are more powerful and unique:
Don’t fear the thesaurus. We recommend keeping one on hand.
Whether you optimize for SEO or social media, you’ll also want to ensure you’re using the active voice. This makes your title more exciting and engaging.
Active voice also directly connects with your readers, addressing them. The active voice exists when the subject of the verb performs the action of the verb.
In other words, if you write: “15 Brands Who Aced Instagram” as part of your title, that’s in the active voice. The brands are the subject of the verb “aced” and have performed the action.
By contrast, the passive voice creates distance between your readers and your content. You want your title of all things to immediately connect with your readers.
Why Numbers Matter
If appropriate, adding a number to your title can empower it. Numbers capture the reader’s attention because they provide finite expectations.
Numbers also make a promise of value. Readers find such promises inviting, and then when you deliver, you gain credibility and authority.
Online marketing is all about building trust between consumers and your brand. Every step matters, from writing your blog post to keying into how to come up with a title.
In the next section, we’ll dig deeper to help you craft titles that will grab readers’ attention and entice them to consume your content.
6 Steps For Titling Success
Now that you know what matters in a blog title, we’ll move on to a step-by-step process for how to write the title of an article.
Where appropriate, we will specify whether a particular tip is more aligned with optimizing for search engines or for social media. Regardless of which of those you’re aiming for, you should always aim to optimize for the audience.
1. Begin With A WIP Title
Trying to write the final title before you’ve written the blog is putting the cart before the horse. For this reason, we recommend coming up with a work-in-progress title to guide your writing of your blog.
A working title differs in scope from a topic.
If, for example, you’re in finance, “Financial Trends of 2019” wouldn’t be a good working title though it may make an excellent topic. The reason for its excellence as a topic is it might generate multiple good story titles.
We say story titles because we want you to think of your working titles as a story. All content writing is storytelling in some way, even if its purpose is to educate or sell.
2. Adhere To Accuracy
Your final title must be accurate. Whatever promise it makes of your content you must deliver on in the article.
The title’s job, in part, is to establish the reader’s expectations. If your content doesn’t match those expectations, you risk losing readers’ trust.
You should avoid hyperbole and all exaggeration at all costs–especially in your title. Exaggeration is disrespectful to the readers’ experience.
You can add clarity and accuracy to your title by adding a bracketed phrase that describes the nature of your content. For example, if your blog post is an infographic, writing [Infographic] at the end of your title tells readers and search engines alike what to expect.
Incidentally, of all post types, infographics get the most shares. You might consider creating one and using the bracketed addition in your title.
3. Make It Eye-Catching
Remember at the beginning of this guide when we mentioned the millions of blog posts published each day? Your title can help you compete with the flood of daily posts if it’s eye-catching.
One way to accomplish this is to use alliteration. Alliteration catches the eye and it’s also a powerful memory tool.
Focus your title on the who of your post and not the why. For example, if you’re writing a post about brands who have benefited from services like those you provide, you’ll want to make them the center of your title instead of why they chose said service.
For this, you need to have an understanding of your buyer persona or ideal client. You should develop this understanding before you develop content, so if you’ve not taken the opportunity, now is the time.
Only then can you find the type of language and tone to appeal to them. Speaking of language, make it strong–but in moderation.
If all of your title is made up of strong language, it is like a room full of people shouting: It all becomes noise.
4. Brevity Is The Soul Of Wit
When Shakespeare wrote these immortal words, we’re sure he didn’t think of them being applied to article titles, but they ring true all the same.
The shorter your title, the more powerful it can be, but you don’t want to make it so short as to diminish meaning. The length of your title depends on what you plan to use it for.
If you want to gain attention on search engines, aim for keeping your title to 70 characters or less. Google cuts off characters after the first 70, which means your title could be truncated.
If you’re hoping your blog will perform well on Twitter, you should keep it to eight to twelve words. If you’re looking for a character guideline, stick to 130 characters or less in case tweeters want to comment on your article.
For Facebook success, it should be 12 words long–or 14 words long. Titles of those lengths perform the best on that particular social network.
We’ll talk more about optimizing for social and search in the next section. Believe it or not, there’s more to it than length.
5. Focus On Social And Search
While it’s possible to optimize your titles for either search engine rankings or social media shares, we recommend optimizing for both together. After all, why not go after two birds with one stone?
The way to do this is to make certain your title includes both a pain point and a solution. You’ll also want to research keywords your audience searches for and put them toward the beginning of your title.
We must add at this juncture that ensuring your title reads naturally is also of paramount importance. Try also to make your title entertaining.
On Facebook, users share entertaining content the most–48% of the time.
6. Two Heads Are Better Than One
Once you have your blog article written and a title crafted, we recommend sharing both with a colleague or reader you trust. First, show them the title.
Ask about their expectations. Ask them to put the title into their own words.
Ask them to rate how likely they’d be to click on that title in a search engine or in a tweet or Facebook post (or other social media post). Then, give them the blog article.
Ask them to reflect on whether or not the article fulfills the promise made by the title. Finally, ask them if the title can be strengthened.
Their answers to these questions should tell you if your title is accurate, concise, appealing, and optimized.
With an in-depth guide of this length, we’d like to provide a brief recap on how to write titles.
First, we covered basic guidelines. We discussed the importance of:
- Word choice
With that understanding in mind, we dove into a six-step process for writing successful titles with the aim of getting more clicks and shares on both search engines and social media networks:
- Start with a draft, work-in-progress title
- Be accurate and clear
- Catch your reader’s eye to make a good first impression
- Keep it concise
- Aim to please readers on search engines and social media networks alike
- Brainstorm and seek the input of another before publishing
If, after following these steps, you still feel lost about creating titles, there are automatic blog title generators. However, you should use these with caution.
Automatic blog title generators cannot take into account your buyer persona. They can be a good starting point, but you should not consider them a replacement for all six steps.
At the very least, you should follow steps 5 and 6 manually.
When it comes to how to write a title that gets clicks and shares, we cannot understate the importance of giving this task the time and creative energy it deserves.
Think of your title like the cover of a book–and despite the old adage that we should not judge a book by its cover, we certainly do that. If we did not, bookstores–online and brick and mortar–would not display book covers.
Don’t rush the process of creating the right title. It can take as long–or longer–as crafting the blog post itself.
While this may seem strange because the blog post is so many more words, remember that in that first impression, you must convey meanings, power, and hook your reader in so few words.
Blogs and their titles are a key component of content marketing. When executed properly, they can lead to building brand awareness, trust, and increasing conversions.
If you have additional questions about crafting successful blog titles, writing blogs, or content marketing, we encourage you to contact us. We’d love to help you attract and engage new customers.