Tips for Writing Better Blog Headlines

HeadlineAlex, the 16-year-old blogger behind Blogussion, compiled a list last September of “18 Resources to Help you Write Better Blog Titles.” Despite being written more than 6 months ago, there is still some pretty helpful advice linked in his post. Alex quotes Brian Clark of Copyblogger, who states that, “On average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest.”

Below is a list that includes some of the highlights from Alex’s compilation of resources. Some of these may seem obvious, but a little reminder never hurt!

  1. Include keywords. This is not only important for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes, but it also helps your prospective human readers.
  2. “How to” headlines are a strong draw. In order to grab readers’ attention, you must be specific about the benefits they’ll get from reading your article. Don’t rely on implication. Another reason this formula works is because people tend to infer that if they can achieve the first part of the headline, they’ll also achieve the second part. Follow the formula of, “How to [Mundane Task] That [Rewarding Benefit].”
  3. List posts are extremely popular. This is particularly true when the headline mentions the number of items contained in that list. It lets the reader know what’s in store for them if they continue to read.
  4. Be direct. Cutesy headlines aren’t nearly as effective as straightforward ones.
  5. Ask a question. Posing a question within your headline is a quick trick to engage readers. People love to talk or think about themselves. This method projects them right into your article.
  6. Personalize headlines. This is similar to the tip mentioned above. Putting the word “you” or “your” within your headline also helps draw potential readers in. Both of these tips deal with creating self-interest.
  7. Keep it as short as possible. This is particularly true if your blog feeds automatically to your Twitter account. Since you’re already limited to 140 characters on Twitter — or less when you factor in re-tweeting potential — you want to try to stay within those confines for your headline.

Remember that the majority of the time, readers’ only exposure to you will be via your headline — whether in search engine result lists, RSS feeds, links from other bloggers or Twitter users, social media sites, etc. Compose your headlines as if they were the only thing that represented what you wanted to say.

There is more helpful advice contained in the articles that Alex linked to, with a lot more explanation and examples than I have given here. Many of the experts agree on these suggestions, though they do disagree on some tips, such as whether to write the headline or the article first. I’d suggest investing a little time and reading them all, particularly the “Magnetic Headlines” series written by Brian Clark on Copyblogger.

Source: “18 Resources to Help you Write Better Blog Titles,” Blogussion, 09/02/09
Image by doctorow, used under its Creative Commons license.

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