Effective blog titles should be tailored, attention-grabbing and SEO optimized. Are your blog titles engaging readers or missing the mark?

How to craft killer blog titles

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In the paper-based days of yore, newspaper publishers relied on strong front page headlines to catch readers’ eyes as they walked down the street. The same philosophy applies for modern marketers hoping to attract blog visitors: They need to write blog post titles that resonate with their target audiences if they want to pull in first-time readers or keep prospective customers clicking. But nowadays, the entirety of the internet stands as competition.

According to MarketingProfs, 2 million blog posts are created each day. It’s safe to say at least some of them are aimed at your target audience.

The question becomes: How can your blog posts cut through the noise?

While there’s no all-encompassing cure-all for this conundrum, it’s often best to start at the beginning. In this case, that means crafting a killer blog title.

Tailor titles to your audience

Copyblogger reported eight out of 10 people will read the title of an article, yet only two will continue on to read the full text. It’s a safe bet many of these non-readers feel the content promised by the title doesn’t apply to them, or worse yet, is so uninteresting as to not matter.

With so many digital voices screaming for attention, it makes sense that people would be more discerning in what they actually click on. If your title isn’t aimed squarely at your target audience, there’s a good chance internet users will continue window shopping until they find a title that speaks to them.

If you haven’t created buyer personas yet, now is the perfect time to do so. When writing a blog title, you can refer to these personas to determine who the blog is specifically geared toward, as well as what you want the ultimate takeaway for this audience to be.

When crafting the title, focus on:

  • Target audience concerns.
  • Target audience questions.
  • How your product or service relates.
  • How your product or service can help.

Keep tone and style in mind. Some blogs take a sensationalist approach to titles, focusing on generating excitement. Others opt for a more playful approach, incorporating puns, jokes and buzzwords whenever possible.

Titles should be 70 characters or less.

While both strategies can be effective, they won’t do much to help you if your target audience is more sober and sophisticated. In many instances, the best titles act more like a newspaper headline, providing clear facts that outline the content of a story. But if you’re targeting millennials, a Buzzfeed-inspired blog post title – one that’s sensationalist or includes numbers – might resonate better.

Attention-grabbing blog titles

Even if your titles are more straightforward, it’s important to make an impression on readers.

Action words like “use” and “look” have been shown to enhance marketing strategy performance. Meanwhile, using dark, dynamic words is proven to pique curiosity. Words such as “fear” and “war” lead to higher shares among readers, according to a study from Startup Moon. Numbered listicles and how-to articles with corresponding titles are also effective.

The title of this very blog post is a good example of getting attention (You’re here now, aren’t you?). Other examples may include:

  • “Win the marketing war with optimized headlines”
  • “Use these 10 tips to fight your marketing fears”
  • “How to look like a thought leader”

Even if internet users fail to click on an article, an attention-grabbing blog title is more likely to be shared, increasing the chance that others will read the full text. Data from HubSpot showed that out of nearly 3 million link-containing tweets, approximately 15 percent were for blog posts that were shared but not clicked on.

Utilizing tools like BuzzSumo makes it easy to see what blog titles are being shared most. Allow information regarding what’s trending to influence your own titles. Are other blog post titles:

  • Written as questions?
  • Directly referencing the reader in second person?
  • Using a “how-to” approach?
  • Prominently featuring numbers?
Tools like BuzzSumo can show you what's trending.

I took my cues from these results, which made it obvious instructional language was key to success.

The battle for attention should never come at the expense of reader trust, however. Content marketing represents the ideal way for you to demonstrate knowledge and value to prospective customers. A dynamite title won’t count for much if readers click on an article only to find the content doesn’t deliver. Titles exist as a first impression. It’s up to the content you create to seal the deal.

Leverage SEO best practices

While it’s vital to remember the human element when creating blog titles, search engine optimization should also be a priority.

Keyword research will allow you to fine-tune your title, focusing on the highest-ranking words or phrases related to a topic. At least one keyword should be included in your title.

Title length is also essential. Best practices call for titles of 70 or fewer characters. While you want to be descriptive, staying concise is equally important. But more importantly, when it comes to writing SEO articles, keeping blog titles below 70 characters ensures the entire headline appears in search results. You don’t want your title to get cut off, especially if you’re taking the keyword-heavy approach.

Test titles for effectiveness

Still not sure if your titles are up to snuff? Track blog post performance to ensure your titles are engaging readers.

Views, shares and comments will all provide insight into which blog titles are resonating with your target audience. If your current approach is leaving much to be desired on this front, it might be time to expand your horizons where titles are concerned.

You only get one chance to make a first impression, as the saying goes. Make sure your blog post’s first impression leaves readers wanting more.

Eric Wendt
Eric Wendt is a writer and editor at Brafton. He discovered his love of words after realizing he was terrible at math. If he's not updating his Tumblr with poetry he's too embarrassed to share, there's a good chance he's out in search of the perfect pale ale.

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