Are your post titles good enough to help your site get found and read? That is, after all, their main purpose. Great headlines take thought and planning. Here are tips for crafting headlines that are candy to both search engines and readers. Plus, you’ll find new ways to think about all the places where your headlines appear online.
The Power of a Catchy Headline
Print publishers know all about the power of headlines. In fact, they have departments of people with degrees to write them well. The reason is simple. A good headline sells the product. Newspapers, magazines, and books have page after page of information. The only way they can get you to purchase and consume it is by drawing your attention to it. Your blog is the same type of information resource and you would do well to employ the same marketing savvy to your headlines.
The Fresh Baked Bread Approach
My local grocery store renovated their building so that the deli is near the door. When you walk in you see food. More importantly, you smell food coming out of the ovens, specifically, fresh baked bread. Being hungry while you’re in a food store puts you in the mood to spend more money. That is the point.
Do your headlines make your clients drool to read more?
Here’s a headline from a recent post on BlogAid – Harness the Power of WordPress Categories. It started out as How to Use WordPress Categories and then evolved into Get the Most from WordPress Categories, and then into its final form. Which one whets your appetite most?
The Matter-of-Fact Approach
Placing keywords in the title of your posts helps you get ranked for those terms in search engines. But, Google and others are looking for more than that. They actually want to know what your readers want to know. What is this post about?
This post on BlogAid ranks for several keywords and key phrases, also known as long-tail keywords. Preview, Customize, and Install a Theme in WordPress 3.4.
The keywords and phrases are:
- Install a Theme
- Customize Theme
- WordPress Theme
- WordPress 3.4
Google actually indexes each one of those as a single entity. The content in the post is 100% relevant to the title, which is another aspect that both Google and BlogAid readers use to rate my posts.
Where Headlines Count
Creating blog content can be an insular process because you’re always working on the backside of your site in the admin area. You have a super long space at the top of the text editor for your title too. But keep in mind that your title is going to actually be displayed in more places.
Here’s where titles show:
- the single blog post (title and full post)
- archive of latest posts (title with post excerpt)
- list of archived categories (title with post excerpt)
- sidebar (title only – in Recent Posts widget)
- social media (title highlighted singularly and in bold, with post excerpt)
- RSS feed (title only in feed readers on mobile devices)
- Email from feed (title only in subject line)
The best policy for both readers and search engines is to keep your titles short and informative. But the, you have to say what you have to say. So, err on the side of informative instead of brevity when necessary.
Get Liked for Nothing
One of the folks I follow on Facebook often shares good posts from others. One had a super headline and there were about 15 Likes reported for it. Unfortunately, the post link went to a 404 error page. So, 15 people had clicked Like on something that they did not even read based on nothing more than a catchy headline. Even funnier, there were three comments stating that the post could not be found. Do you get the idea that you can gain EdgeRank on Facebook just by folks scanning and liking titles?
Turn up the Volume
Both Darren Rowse of ProBlogger and Brian Clark of CopyBlogger state that it is not appropriate to turn the volume up to 11 on all post titles. Otherwise, your content looks like a screaming spam farm.
Here’s another post on BlogAid – How to Choose and Purchase a Domain Name. It’s not sexy and performs more like a plow horse than a thoroughbred. And it gets clicked, a lot. Same with How to Choose a Host Provider. You’ll find this type of core content on pages like the Site Owner Starter Guide. I kept these titles super simple because I knew they would be placed on just such a page, and because that’s exactly what folks type into Google to find that type of content.
Be Clear or Be Cute
The catch in writing headlines is that you have to craft something both alluring and informative. Those attributes tend to sit on opposite sides of the spectrum. A little bit of intrigue or mystery makes readers want to know more. But, if the reader is unsure what they’ll find when they get there, they are not as likely to click. So, be clever, but not to the point of obscurity.
Are Your Headlines Performing Well?
What factors do you consider when crafting your headlines? What sort of headlines get your attention?