Silence is golden. But not when your blog looks like a barren landscape devoid of any activity or noise. That kind of silence is unnerving, isn’t it?
More than 2 million blogs are posted on the Internet everyday. Not surprisingly then, crafting good content is barely a battle won unless accompanied by an attractive title that entices people to click, read and share (sometimes even without reading) the content penned down so painstakingly by you.
How to write a catchy title? How long should a title be? Should I use numbers in my title? What about keywords?
I know you are buzzing with questions . . . and in this post, you will find answers to all your questions.
I have spent years crafting, sharing and analyzing content and titles to conclude that writing effective titles is not really an art, it is a science. A science that you can leverage to make sure your awesome posts are read and not lost in the milieu of content posted online everyday.
But first, let me ask you ask you a question. What really is an effective post title?
According to me, an effective post title is:
Making people take note of it.
It entices viewers to click on it. Because that’s what matters, isn’t it?
The title of an article is the window to the content that will follow. Are viewers hooked enough by your title to read on? Many would share the content simply because the headline promises a great read ahead . . .
Thus, an effective post title is one that is optimized for the readers. Nevertheless, optimizing the title for Google is also important for better visibility and rankings. (More on this later.)
Let me make life simpler for you. Today, I will share my formula for writing awesome blog titles. You can use this formula for every thing you write – blogs, posts and emails – and never hear silence on your page again!
5 steps to writing headlines that really work:
Start with a temporary title and refine it
Start with a title that explains what your post is all about and let it guide your pen. This first draft of your title would be utterly simple – just the exact issue you decide to write about.
Once you have this basic draft, revisit the title with every paragraph you jot down to check whether you have drifted or the title needs to evolve further. It is only after completing the post, you would revisit the title to make it unique, attractive and clickable. Going the other way round can have you quickly throw your hands up in the air.
For example, I have a draft title as follows:
How improving your LinkedIn profile can help your business?
Which are the best SEO tools for starters?
What steps are involved in writing awesome content?
While none of these above listed topics is unique or attractive, each clearly mentions the crux of the post, helping me stay true to the topic as I write.
Do proper keyword research
Using proper keywords in your blog as well as title is integral to a post’s success. A strong title is one that not only prompts users to click but is also optimized for search engines.
But how do you decide the keywords for your title?
- Brainstorm what your post is all about. Is it an Infographic or a list or a post educating readers about a certain topic. What terms would the readers use while searching for your post?
- Once you have a list of 10 such terms, use a keyword research tool such as UberSuggest or Google Keyword Planner to expand your list.
- Now you can zero down on keywords that actually describe your post and have good search volume.
- Place your keyword strategically in your title draft, preferably towards the beginning of the headline.
Keep it relevant
Keeping your title relevant to the content is one advice you may never ignore. Readers want to know what exactly they will gain by reading a post. Would they get a solution to a pain point? Are they going to find a useful list or an Infographic on a topic?
Telling readers exactly what to expect and making sure they receive what you promised is the only way to build a successful blog.
For example, ‘How to write an awesome blog in 6 steps’ is certainly a better title than ‘How to write an awesome blog?’ The first example clearly tells you that you will find 6 steps for creating an awesome blog. The second example . . . well . . . it could contain anything – the title doesn’t divulge much.
Here are 3 templates you can quickly adapt for a super title:
How to [do something] in 5 minutes
7 tips for 
7 [amazing/secret/exclusive] [fact/tips] [audience] should know
Keep it short
According to a study by Outbrain, the length of a title affects its performance. People prefer titles that are 60-100 characters long. The click through rate decreases as the characters fall below 60 or go beyond 100. Going by the number of words, headlines that are 16-18 words long seem to outperform the rest.
The main point I want to drive home is that moderately long titles perform best of all. Neither long nor very short titles appeal to readers.
Another reason to keep your titles under 70 characters is to ensure that Google does not cut the titles in search engine results. For optimizing your titles for the social media, see this very helpful Infographic on Buffer by Kevan Lee.
Use emotional words
Catchy blog titles not only grab eyeballs, they stir something inside the reader, compelling them to read on. To create irresistible headlines, use power words that are proven to pique the interest of the readers.
- Some of the most effective headlines start with two simple words: “How to…”
- Numbers are compelling, use them: titles such as “9 ways to…”, “7 incredible secrets…” will outperform similar titles without the figures.
- Words such as incredible, secret, guaranteed, free, limited, exclusive, valuable, handy, useful, etc. instantly appeal to readers, promising a lot of value in the ensuing content.
Here is a list of 180+ power words by Copywriter Karl Stepp that you can incorporate in your headlines for that extra punch.
To conclude. . .
As you would have figured by now, writing effective headlines is not difficult but an exercise that requires lots of practice and refining. By following the ideas I have shared with you, I am confident you’d be writing stronger, bolder and more impactful titles that would cut through the online noise and make readers take notice of your content.
Do share your best performing titles or favourite catchwords in the comments section.