“How do I come up with the perfect blog post title” is a question I get asked often. Writers can spend hours tweaking the title of their post. And for good reason: your title is almost always the first thing your target audience sees.
When your content is tweeted, the most common accompanying text is your title. On Facebook and LinkedIn, your title is displayed in the link preview. And, on Google, your title is the link to the post itself.
It’s not a stretch to say that often a post only gets viewed because the title is interesting to them. It may be the only criteria going into whether someone clicks through or not.
This misleads some content creators to uphold click-through rate as the sole benchmark for an effective title.
Don’t use clickbait titles.
You’ve probably come across blogs that rely heavily on overhyping what’s being presented. You can usually find these overly emotional titles on your Facebook feed. Examples of clickbait include:
- Watch this teenager become a hero with three sentences!
- My jaw dropped to the floor when I realized what this image really was. WOW!
- Man tries to hug a wild lion, you won’t believe what happens next!
- At 9, she sold all of her toys and came up with a million-dollar idea.
It’s true that if you use a clickbait structure for your titles, you may achieve a high click-through rate if your target audience sees it. The problem is that audiences are usually disappointed at the end result, and will not share your post with others. They may even resent you for having a misleading title.
“You can trick someone to click, but you can’t trick someone to share.”
– Ben Smith, Buzzfeed Editor-in-Chief
Facebook is actually trying to filter out overhyped clickbait articles because they realize it’s infringing on their user experience.
So, what makes an effective blog title?
First and foremost, it should be obvious to your target audience that they’ll receive value if they view your blog post. They’ll be more likely to follow through if they know exactly what they’re going to read.
An effective blog title should also be interesting and compelling without being over-promising. You’re competing for their attention. If you’re not offering something superior to what they’re currently doing, they will not be curious enough to visit.
Finally, you also want to take into consideration where your audience will see your title. For example, there are different length limits on social networks and search engines. If your title is too long, it might get cut off.
Here are three simple steps for crafting an effective blog title:
1. State the promise.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- What’s the main point of my post?
- What is someone going to understand after reading my post?
- If I could sum up this post in one sentence, what would I say?
Making your promise obvious is the single most important attribute of an effective blog title. Start with a very matter-of-fact promise. Avoid ambiguity. For this post, we began with “The steps you need to take in order to craft blog titles” as our first step.
2. Amplify the promise.
The next step is to make sure your promise is exciting! This could be as simple as adding a couple power words to your initial statement. Power words evoke strong emotions in your audience.
You can also add numbers to your title if it helps amplify the promise. Smaller numbers signal conciseness. Larger numbers signal substance.
At this stage, we revised our title from Step 1 to “The 3 simple steps you need to take in order to craft effective blog titles”.
The final step is to cut out as many words as possible from the title without losing the obviousness and amplification from Steps 1 and 2. You need to keep the most important words and remove the “filler words” that don’t add value or structure.
Some filler words are required in order to form a grammatically correct title. A good rule of thumb is:
“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
– Albert Einstein
Using this methodology is how we crafted our final title: “3 simple steps for crafting effective blog titles”. It’s obvious, compelling, and specific. And, here we all are – proving that it delivered on its promise!
John is the Founder & CEO of Wriber. He’s passionate about entrepreneurship, high-tech startups, thought leadership, content marketing, and artificial intelligence. John frequently volunteers his time at the University of Waterloo to help young entrepreneurs get their businesses off the ground. He’s also a faithful Toronto Maple Leafs fan, frequent Redditor, and lifelong learner.