You guys. I just had a “holy cow moment” of epic proportions and of course, I had to share it with you. It all started when I was researching blog post titles and ran across this data point:
Traffic can vary by as much as 500% based on the headline.
If you’re wondering where I came across this staggering fact, it’s from a study by Conduct and it goes on to say,
According to Koechley, tests show that traffic to content at Upworthy can vary by as much as 500% simply because of the headline. “The headline is our one chance to reach people who have a million other things that they’re thinking about, and who didn’t wake up in the morning wanting to care about feminism or climate change, or the policy details of the election,” he said.
The research also states that according to some sources, on average eight out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only two out of 10 will read the rest.
I always thought I cared about the name I was giving my blog posts, but knowledge is freaking power and needless to say, I was way underestimating the importance of my headlines. BUT, like the time of asbestos and lead paint, those days are DONE. You and I are about to adopt some way healthier and more successful titling practices, like…stat.
I got to researching immediately and have listed below 7 of the simplest and most effective tips for creating blog post titles that drive traffic and don’t get glossed over so easily by those potential readers we work so hard to please.
Also, make sure to stick around to the end. I stumbled across a free online tool that’ll make all this so stinkin’ easy!
7 Simple Tips For Writing Successful Blog Post Titles
Ok, so this one is going to seem kinda obvious, but the title of your post should be extremely clear and relevant to your your content. At a quick glance, I should know EXACTLY what I’m going to gain if I read your article. Period.
You may be doing a great job at this already but when I audited my prior posts, I realized I was only really doing this half the time. Why? Because sometimes (at least for me) it’s tempting to choose a title I think sounds catchy instead of something really straight forward. It can be the curse of the creative, ya know?
Let’s say for example I decided to write a post that contained some of my favorite sassy business related quotes for getting me all amped up and ready to work. I could choose to title this article:
I’m Bringing Sassy Back!
7 Sassy Quotes To Inspire Your Best Work
One is crazy clear and straight-forward, but the other has fun word play that references the timeless tune “I’m Bringing Sexy Back” by Justin Timberlake. WHAT is a girl with a weird sense of humor to do?
I’ll tell ya what she does. She resists her inner JT fan and goes with the obvious and smart choice.
// Bonus tip: Just because you need to be clear and direct in your post titles doesn’t mean you can’t spice things up in other ways. Consider making a variety of branded images that correspond with your content. Graphics are a great way to test and display alternate titles and have fun with your wording. Let loose and then market them via your social media channels.
2. Keyword inclusion
I’m not going to go super in depth about SEO right now (that’s a blog post for another day), but I will tell you that paying attention to the placement of your primary keywords is a big deal if you want Google to find the content you worked so hard to create.
Let’s refer back to that pretend post I used as an example in tip #1.
A good long-tail keyword for that particular article might be “sassy business quotes”. Once I know that, I’m going to want to incorporate that keyword in the description + alt text of my feature image, in my meta description, my tags, body copy, etc. Aaaand, it would be wise for me to insert it into my title. Meaning, a quality headline might be:
7 Sassy Business Quotes To Inspire Your Best Work
// Sidenote: A keyword is typically one word, while a long-tail keyword is a combo of two or more words.
In general, you want to keep your post titles to 57 characters or less to prevent Google from cutting them off.
Personally, if my headline runs a little long, it’s not something I freak out about. HOWEVER, it’s a really good practice to be mindful of this. You certainly don’t want Google chopping off the end of your title in an awkward spot.
Plus, when we search Google for something, we skim the results. That’s why headlines that are short, simple and clear tend to perform better.
// Bonus Tip: If you can’t bring yourself to shorten a post title, make certain to place the most important + relevant words towards the beginning of your headline.
4. Avoid Generic Titles
Headlines fall into a few different categories; generic usually being the one of the worst performing of those. An example of a generic post title would be:
Writing Better Blog Headlines
Consider transforming your headline into one of the types below to improve your click-through ratings.
Ex: 7 Ways To Write Better Headlines
Ex: Are Your Headlines Hurting Your Blog?
Ex: How To Write Traffic Driving Headlines
- Reader Addressing
Ex: How You Can Write More Awesome Headlines
// Bonus Fact: For better or worse, that same Conductor study I referenced above shows that list posts are still dominating conversions. Us humans are wild about our lists!What you title your blog post can effect traffic as much as 500%. Dude......Click To Tweet
5. Impact Words
I’ve always told you that tapping into an emotion is one of the best things you can do to elevate the impact of your writing. It goes back to the premise that people will forget what you say but will remember how you made them feel.
Well, as it turns out, the same theory applies to headlines.
Impact words trigger a feeling. Incorporating them instantly boosts the Emotional Marketing Value (EMV) of our headlines; a factor that helps increase our conversions. Take for instance the difference between these two titles:
Coming Back From A Blog Break
The Simple Guide To Surviving A Blog Break
Which one do you think is more likely noticed and clicked?
Since we’re human and humans are emotional creatures, we tend to gravitate towards words and images that inspire a feeling. In the example above, “simple” and “surviving” would both be considered Impact Words and they are part of what contribute to the increased click-through probability of headline number 2.
It has a higher EMV, yo!
//Bonus Resource: CoSchedule did some research and used it to compile a list of 500+ Impact Words (or Power Words, as they refer to them) to help pump up the volume of your headlines.
Here’s their handy dandy tear sheet for reference!
6. Superlatives Are The Best
^^ See what I did there? I’m such a nerd.
Superlatives aren’t really the best, but the word best is a superlative, and those suckers can also be helpful in catching the eyes of your potential readers. For example, you can try jazzing up your headline by changing it from:
9 Ways To Brand Your Images
9 Of The Easiest Ways To Brand Your Images
// Bonus Tip: I know I don’t have to tell you fine people this, but just a reminder that if you’re going to use words like “best”, “easiest”, “yummiest”, “most”, etc. – make sure you can back that superlative up with your content. Over-promising with your headline and under delivering with your post really hurts your brand…and only sucky people do that. You’re too awesome to be sucky.
Which reminds me, I’m a collector of awesome, non-sucky people like you, so you should click this button and introduce yourself!
7. Case Matters
Just so happens that our potential readers can be swayed by which type of case we use when typing out our blog titles.
Does this mean they’re “case-sensitive”?
Ba-da-bum. That was funny, right? I’ll be here all week, folks!
Anyhow, the three types of headline case are
- How to cook the perfect cheeseburger. >> lower case
- HOW TO COOK THE PERFECT CHEESEBURGER. >> capitalization
- How To Cook The Perfect Cheeseburger. >> sentence case
As you may have already guessed, sentence case wins…by a mile. You know that Conductor study I keep referencing? Their data backs up the awesome sauce that is sentence case. See?
// PS: Now I want a cheeseburger. Ugh.
Free Tool For You!
Now that you have a few simple tricks to makeover your post titles, how about that cool tool I promised you?
The sweet folks at CoShedule created the Headline Analyzer and made it free for us to use! Nice of them, right? And if you’re anything like me, you’ll have a little too much fun using it.
All you have to do is type in your headline idea, click the Analyze Now button and bam! It scores your post title (I aim for a score of 70+ when possible), and it gives you a full detailed report of what works and why. It’ll even show you what your headline will look like in Google search results and email subject lines. Whoa!
One more thing before you go…
As important as it is to be savvy about how to drive traffic to our content, y’all know how I feel about the responsibility of providing quality beyond the click.
I’m pretty big on it.
So, if you want to make sure your post-writing game is as strong as your headline writing skills now are, here’s an article just for you!
Have anything to add?
Tell us all about it in the comments below!