“One quick thing.”
These could be the best blog posts in the history of blogging, but I would never know it because I would never click on those titles to find out. It’s harsh, but true.
Some people have a knack for blog post titles – just a few words will hook the reader, and then. . . let the page views begin! These people manage to blend their keywords effortlessly and come up with something clever and witty that just begs to be clicked.
Others are able to get by. They can convey the point of the post well enough to let the reader (most important) and the search engines (arguably less important than the reader, but still important nonetheless) know what it’s all about. They can pull off keywords that don’t sound forced and, though they might not have the catchiest titles, they’re certainly not the worst.
And then we come to a third class of bloggers – the kind with really, truly awful titles.
What makes these titles so awful?
They don’t tell me much of anything about the post. They’re so vague and the language is so generic that I have no clue if the post will be of interest to me. Memories of what? A shared or common experience? Okay, I might read that. But your vacation? Well, unless I know you well and am personally invested in your happiness, I probably don’t care much. It sounds harsh, but it’s true. But again, I’ll never know because my interest wasn’t piqued. I’m not curious enough to make the click.
If we assume that the primary goals of your blog are to inform, educate, and get traffic (pretty standard), these generic, lackluster titles aren’t going to be doing you any favors.
How can you improve your blog titles?
Use Keywords and Phrases Efficiently
I recently advised you against writing like a robot, and I’m going to stick with that advice. That being said, you do need to know the time and place for your keywords.
Like, say, your title, for example.
Determine the keyword or phrase that most defines your post, and then use that in the title.
Bonus tip: If you’re posting an infographic, guide, whitepaper, video, or any other kind of content that you want to call out in the title, do it at the end instead of the beginning so that your keywords can appear as early as possible.
Do this: “Business Blogging Tips for Healthcare Professionals [Infographic]”
instead of this: “Infographic: Business Blogging for Healthcare Professionals”
Note that this made-up title is a bit stronger and more defined than something like “Medical Blogging.”
You want your post titles to be concise – within reason. If they’re too short – one or two words only – they may not convey what the post is actually about. On the other hand, if the title is too long, you risk the search engines truncating it. This is going to be a bad move from an SEO perspective.
So you need to find a happy medium with your titles. Try to keep them between three and fifteen words, or up to about 60 characters (some people say 75).
Ask Yourself if You Would Click on the Title
This is perhaps the most telling test of all – but you have to be honest with yourself. Before you hit publish, ask yourself, “If this title came up in my Google Reader, would I bother to look at it?”
If the answer is no, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.
Tip: If the answer is ‘maybe,’ it’s probably still time to go back to the drawing board. A definitive ‘Yes!’ is what we’re aiming to hear.
The Two-Step Post Title Test
Not sure if your title can compete? Figure it out in two easy steps by asking yourself these questions:
#1: Is it clear from my effective use of keywords what this post is about?
#2: Would I click on this link to read this post?
If you answered with two resounding yeses, you’re on your way. If you answered with at least one no, you still have some work to do. Tweak as needed.
Do you read blog posts with vague titles? What steps do you take to make sure your own titles best convey your meaning and content?
image credit: tricky tech