Editor’s note: Updated November 2018.
What is your content without a great name?
Coming up with blog title ideas is both an art and a science. There’s an art to playing with words to write catchy and creative titles – yet there’s a science to making sure those flashy headlines also get clicks and shares.
Here’s all you need to know about crafting the catchiest, sexiest and totally rank-worthy titles:
What’s in a title?
A great title is key for getting your content read and ranked.
The title is the first thing potential viewers see, which means it has to make a convincing case for the content. A good headline grabs attention while also giving readers the opportunity to identify the content and determine if they want to read more.
Typically your blog post title will serve as your title tag, which is one of the most important on-page SEO pieces of metadata that Google uses to determine what the page is about. They help your content climb the results list and work its way through the crowded social world to pop up on potential readers’ radars.
A killer title increases clickability, driving more viewers to your site. When the content is on par with the headline, it can encourage those viewers to become loyal readers and consumers.
1. Start with a Working Title
Sometimes a kick-ass title will hit you in the face immediately. It’s a great feeling, but it doesn’t happen often for most of us.
Instead, choose a topic and start with a working title. This will guide the direction of the piece, giving you the freedom to write the content before nailing the perfect title.
Say you’re writing about summer travel. Potential working titles could be:
- “X summer travel destinations for families”
- “How to save money on summer vacations”
- “Plan an unforgettable summer vacation with these X essential tips”
Any of these working titles provide an angle that is specific enough to get you started, and you can tweak them after writing the piece without having to change anything drastic about the content to match the title – or vice versa.
2. Don’t bait and switch
While clickability is the goal, it doesn’t stop there. Never lie or embellish the title just to get clicks. Your content should always deliver on the title.
Once they click the link, readers will quickly realize if the title has very little to do with the content. The result is a huff, roll of the eyes and closed tab before they even register the name of the brand.
Set clear expectations with accurate titles. If the headline tells readers the article will show them three natural ways to zap away stubborn zits, they’ll expect to see a list style article with the numbers 1, 2 and 3 in the subheadlines. And, make sure your audience doesn’t have to click through a million pages to see each subheadline!
Respect your audience’s time and experience. If you don’t fulfill the promises made in the title, readers won’t trust your content. While “Breaking news: Broccoli can cure cancer” is certainly an attention-grabbing title, readers will be annoyed if the article actually discusses several health benefits of eating broccoli. Yes, they made it to your blog, but they’re wondering why you had to get them so hyped just to disappoint. (Not good for encouraging them to return to your blog any time soon!)
3. Keep the audience in mind
While Google is one of your most avid and important readers, remember that you’re writing for people, too. After all, consumers are the ones engaging with the blog, products and services, as well as sharing the content they enjoy.
Keep your target audience in mind when writing blog titles. How old are they? What’s the average level of education? Are they a niche group? What’s their sense of humor? Are there buzzwords or industry-specific lingo that apply to them? What kind of articles do they engage with?
With a clear picture of your audience, you can deliver titles and content that have a higher chance of piquing their interest.
4. Optimize for success
Your keyword research will help you craft titles that perform well on social and in search.
Often, you’ll find that longer-tail keywords tend to have more manageable Keyword Difficulty scores, meaning the likelihood of your blog actually ranking well in SERPs relative to competitors is much higher.
And it’s still best practice to include your target keyword in your title (try your best, but don’t force it!).
Ensure the content on your page is primarily rooted in covering a single keyword as comprehensively as possible – you will naturally use semantically related terms as you write, which helps alert search engines as to what your page is about and whether your title is true to the content.
5. Make it sexy
Once you have a solid understanding of your audience and keyword goals, you can work on adding some finesse to your working title.
Some tried-and-true methods to spice up your headlines include:
- Alliteration – let it roll off the tongue.
- Play on words and double meanings – you clever writer, you.
- Active voice – be confident and energetic to engage readers.
- Attractive adjectives – say no to “good” and yes to “brilliant.”
- Trigger words – like “how,” “who” and “what.”
Using this stronger language also helps paint a more specific, accurate picture of the blog content. If you mention aliens in the post, “otherworldly” or “unbelievable” may be better alternatives for “good.”
Similarly, you can use language specific to the audience. If you’re writing an article for twenty- or thirty-something fashionistas about the comeback of ‘90s fashion, throw “as if” in the title and they’ll be eager to read your advice on refreshing their scrunchies and chokers.
It’s also a good idea to highlight the type of article in the title, such as:
- How to talk to aliens
- 8 tips and tricks for talking to aliens
- Understanding space language [infographic]
Use these sexy additions to make your titles as visual as possible, giving readers a clear and enticing idea of the fabulous content they’re about to get into.
6. What would a blogger do?
What else do the gurus do to come up with their wonderfully high-performing and attention-grabbing titles? They keep it short, sexy and interesting – and they don’t settle on the working title.
HubSpot even has the data to help you spice up your working titles. Words that drive viewers to click on headlines include:
Length also plays into the success of a title. According to HubSpot’s research, 117 characters or fewer is best for social because it’s tweetable. For search, aim for 65 characters or less so the entire title appears in search results.
Another golden rule: Cap your title at 12 words maximum. Titles with too many words can be much harder for readers to quickly digest, increasing the chances that they’ll scroll past without bothering to click. You’ll also want to place your most important words at the beginning of the title to protect them from being cut off in email, social and search results.
Plus, think about your personal experience with blogs – which ones make you click? Use those titles for inspiration when crafting your own.
7. Are there idea generators available?
If you’re running low on creativity, you can lean on a few resources for inspiration.
HubSpot’s Blog Ideas Generator helps you brainstorm more interesting topics and working titles, which will lend themselves to sexier final titles.
The Blog Title Generator by SEOPressor uses your keywords to generate a list of catchy titles to choose from. You can use them verbatim or put your own creative spin on the options offered.
BlogAbout by Impact also offers a Blog Title Generator, which provides title ideas with blank spaces for you to fill in specific information pertaining to the blog post.
That being said – you won’t want to rely on these generators for every post. We believe in your ability to craft kick-ass titles, and so should you.
If you need a boost in confidence, run your title through the Headline Analyzer from CoSchedule. This handy resource rates your title on its ability to perform. The good news is that you don’t have to score a 100 to feel good about your title. As long as you’re in the green (70+), you’re good to go.
For instance, if our targeted keyword for this post was “headlines,” here’s how a potential title would perform:
Scroll down for more analysis, as well as some helpful tips on how to improve your score.
Along with support from this trusty headline analyzer, you can get opinions from coworkers. This collaboration can be helpful for sparking creativity and tweaking titles to perfection.
A parting gift
Before we leave you to craft the sexiest titles of your life, here are a few formulas for coming up with blog titles:
- How to + [action] + [result]
- [Number] things you to know to [result]
- The secret sauce to [result that’s totally relatable to audience]
- [Number] + [attractive adjective] + [tips, tricks, products, ways, etc.] + [result]
- Title + [bracketed clarification like infographic, video, interview, etc.]
- [Question that article answers]?
At the very least, these templates can get your creative juices flowing. Don’t be afraid to break the rules and experiment with different methods. Track performance and see what suits your audience.
You got this. Go give your blog posts the names they deserve!