It’s expected that bloggers do keyword research before writing their blog posts. But, how much time are they spending researching and brainstorming blog post titles? Be honest: do you intentionally invest at least 10 minutes in creating catchy titles for your blog posts, or are headlines a bit of an afterthought?
Surely the answer to that question is looking back at you in the mirror, but you can look for answers somewhere else, too: your analytics.
Run this down: you have an amazing piece of content and after SEOing it to bits, it’s finally showing up in search engine results! Every week you check your Google Analytics only to see that your piece of content was shown to tons of people, but the clicks?
~ crickets ~
Providing your excellent content with equally excellent headlines is crucial. In their analysis of click-through rate for blogs, Goodfirms found that a large group of bloggers (34.48%) has a click-through rate of less than 2%. This means that for every 100 people that see a post in search engines, fewer than 2 people actually click on it.
If you’re currently in that camp, I have direct tips that will help get you out of the sand. While no one sees a 100% click-through rate (or even close), some bloggers see a click-through rate as high as 20%.
How much traffic would you be getting every week if you reached a 20% click-through rate?
If you’re showing up on page one of Google but not getting corresponding traffic, the starting point is clear: catchy titles that entice more of those eyeballs to read the whole piece.
Creative titles, not content, explain the difference between someone seeing and someone reading your content. After all, how can people know how fantastic your content is without reading it? A compelling title makes your post stand out and turns an impression into a click.
Sadly though, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of consensus when it comes to the *right* formula for a good headline. The best people have to offer is to share what has worked for them. It’s up to us to distill some of the principles that make an effective, catchy title.
In this blog post, I won’t give you a formula for the perfect headline because that doesn’t exist. Rather, we will look at a few key elements you can experiment with to make your headlines more compelling.
7 Keys To Writing Catchy Titles
Why don’t you immediately implement these catchy title tips as we talk? Pick a blog post and write 2 draft titles based on every tip. You’ll end this conversation with 12 catchy title drafts and will end up with an infinitely better title than if you had written one off the top of your head.
As you draft your titles, remember to keep them under 60 characters for maximum visibility on Google.
1. Demonstrate The Benefit For The Reader
Every day an estimated 3.1 billion people read blogs. Each of those readers has to sift through a large number of blog posts in order to find the one most relevant to them.
People read blogs for 2 main reasons. They either want to learn something new or they want the solution to a problem they have. The job for your headline is to show that your article will help them meet their goals.
It takes the average reader only a few seconds to decide whether or not a blog post is worth reading. It is therefore very important to make it very clear what the reader will gain from reading your post. In fact, formatting your posts in a way that makes them appear easily digestible has many benefits, both for SEO and the overall user experience.
Be as specific as possible when explaining what the reader will gain from your post. If your post is on training dogs how to walk on a leash, don’t pick a general title. Make it as specific as possible:
- How To Train Your Dog (the worst)
- How To Leash Train Your Dog (not bad)
- How To Leash Train Your Dog In 3 Weeks (better)
The easier it is to determine how your piece will benefit potential readers, the likely people are to click on it. You will get even more results by including what are known as power words.
2. Use Emotional Adjectives
In order to attract potential readers, many writers make use of so-called power words to make their titles more compelling. Power words are adjectives that trigger an emotional response. Using these words, you can make your title sound uplifting, encouraging or even scary.
One of the most popular uses for power words is to describe a piece of content as easy. Many readers are put off by content that takes a lot of effort to digest. They tend to prefer By including powerful adjectives like quick, easy or effortless you make your content more appealing.
Likewise, words like proven or guaranteed can give your content more authority. In the previous example of the dog training tips, 6 Proven Tricks To Leash Train Your Dog is more compelling than 6 Tricks To Leash Train Your Dog.
Finally, you can play on people’s greed and fears. This may sound sleazier than it really is. Instead I’m talking about creating a sense of urgency by including phrases like don’t miss out on my free (insert product). People are generally triggered by feelings of scarcity and fear of losing out.
A word of caution here. It may be tempting to use words like shocking, terror or even deadly but it will make your content look bad. In general, you want to stay away from anything that might make your post look like clickbait.
Remember, they’re called power words for a reason and with great power comes great responsibility.
One of the most-read posts here on Writing From Nowhere is my unique eco-friendly gift guide. The traffic is thanks to just 6 characters – unique.
3. Don’t Oversell Or Underdeliver
Have you ever seen ads that go something like this: Earn Money From Home! Make Over $15,000 Per Day! Or what about this one: Do This Now To Lose 50 Pounds In A Week! Apart from the occasional gullible reader, most of us know not to trust this kind of messaging.
Although you should show the value of your content in the title, it is even more important to be realistic with the value you offer. In other words, don’t make a promise you can’t keep. People have learned to recognize empty promises for what they are and are therefore less likely to read your content.
Similarly, don’t make people bounce off your site because you underdeliver. For example, if you have 5 tips on how to leash train your dog, don’t call it a complete guide. The result will be an increased bounce rate and a breaking down of that important trust factor.
Nowadays, people are increasingly able to see straight through clickbait. You can make any promise you want, as long as you deliver.
4. Use Numbers If You Have Them
This one is straightforward, research by Moz shows that titles that contain numbers generally do well. In fact, in 2020 Medium conducted an analysis of their most popular posts and found that 41% of them were lists, and most of those contained a number. The truth is simple, numbers are powerful.
Generally speaking, placing numbers at the beginning of your headline makes it stand out visually. Anything that stands out automatically attracts the eye of the reader which can only be a good thing.
Furthermore, using numbers is an easy way of making your content more compelling. With a headline that offers X solutions to a well-defined problem, you compel the reader to at least scan your post. Do you want to leash train your dog? Well, you can but only if you read all 7 tricks.
Obviously, by including a large number, you can make a list sound more comprehensive. For example, 31 Marketing Ideas is a lot more clickable than 2 Marketing Ideas. When you create a list like this, it is best to exaggerate a bit and use a large number.
Likewise, a small number can imply that something is easy to do. For example, How To Leash Train Your Dog In 4 Steps implies two things. The first is that this post has a complete solution to a problem. Apparently, after implementing these steps your dog will be fully trained. The second, less obvious one is that the small number, only 4 steps, implies that it is a quick and easy process!
In their analysis of a huge (100 million!) headlines, Buzzsumo found that the numbers 5 and 7 generally tend to do well for ordinary lists. Clearly, some numbers are more popular than others.
5. Include Your Keyword
Including your keyword in your title is huge for SEO. According to Moz, your title is the second most important factor after content. Placing your keyword as close to the beginning as you can seem to be the best practice.
Do not go overboard and stuff your title full of all the keywords you can think of. After all, titles are there to inform both your readers and Google about the exact content of your post. In fact, using your keyword more than once will actively harm your rankings.
Whatever you do, make sure your title remains readable. I mean, you’re writing your catchy titles to attract readers. Would you click on something that sounds unnatural? Keep in mind that you’re writing for people first and SEO second.
6. Always Brainstorm Titles
If you’re brainstorming along as we talk, you should have 10 blog post title drafts by now.
As you can see, writing a blog title is not easy. You have to come up with a title that is compelling to your readers as well as SEO-friendly. Furthermore, you have to think about the language that you use. Is it emotional enough? Does it speak to your target audience? On top of that, you only have one line to do all this! This is why brainstorming multiple titles before you pick is so helpful.
When I write blog posts, I always try to come up with at least 10 titles. The benefit of this is simple. The first few are always the boring, cliche ones. By forcing your brain to come up with more, you can move past them and come up with something a little more unique.
7. Experiment With Templates
Fortunately, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel here. There are quite a few catchy headline templates out there. Keep in mind, these are just headline formats that tend to do well. They tend to perform well on Google and social media but they’re no substitute for creativity.
Two of the most popular blog title templates are the list (X steps to…) and the How-To headline. They have been popular for years and it is not hard to see why. Both a X things to … and a How To … headline promise to solve a specific problem and are therefore automatically appealing to readers. When brainstorming, you may want to start there.
Final Thoughts On Writing Catchy Titles For Blogs
Do you normally see writing headlines as an afterthought? Well, then you’re leaving money and traffic on the table, my friend.
Although there are no easy ways to the perfect title, these 7 keys will help you up your game. Whatever you come up with, don’t go with the first thing that comes to mind.
Writing catchy blog titles is an art and perfecting it will take practice.
I believe in you!