The headline, the blog post title, the email subject line. How often do you get no further than those things?
In fact, I might be in trouble here, because you might not have actually got this far. If you are still reading, then the first hook worked. This time.
A health warning
Before we go much further on cracking compelling titles, I think it’s worth just talking about the quality of your content. You might get people clicking through a few times just on witty, unusual or controversial headlines.
But if your content sucks, tells them nothing new or useful, isn’t entertaining or is just plain boring, then your headlines won’t help you to build a truly engaged customer base. We’ve all been sucked in with clickbait type titles and then found the content to be far from what we imagined.
So, I’m going to take it that you’ve bought in already to producing five-star content, then let’s think about great titles to go with it.
Don’t go thinking that just because you don’t want to produce click baity type titles that you have to just have really bland titles. If you know your customers, know what problem your business can solve for them, then that’s a great starting point. Don’t get too clever, be direct and let them know what they’re going to be getting. This is not the time or place to be mysterious.
Keep it short
This is a blog post title we’re talking about, not the title to a thesis or a government paper.
I mean A Comparative Study of Artificial Neural Networks Using Reinforcement Learning and Multidimensional Bayesian Classification Using Parzen Density Estimation for Identification of GC-EIMS Spectra of Partially Methylated Alditol Acetates on the World Wide Web is not really a title that is going to see you rushing to click on it for a quick browse during your lunchbreak. With no disrespect to the two researchers, I am sure it’s incredibly fascinating stuff.
So, go short, go snappy but meaningful. Ideally you want to be under 55 characters, mainly because Google cuts out titles after that. Also research has shown 55 characters is optimal for click thru rates. Even better if you get that in about 6 words for your 55 characters.
At the end of the day, this is all about communication. And all communication works at an emotional level. According to the Advanced Marketing Institute then words can trigger emotions at three different kind of levels. They might appeal on an intellectual basis, or an empathetic or spiritual level. Depending on what your product or service is will help decide on which one of those groups you want to be the dominant one in your title.
It doesn’t mean you won’t use words from the other groups, just it’ll help you balance up where the focus is. If you want to look into this further, then I highly recommend their Headline Analyzer. Give it a go with your next title, and see if you can get 30%+ scores.
Count on the power of numbers
You might think that list type titles were over and done with, but they still rank really highly for click through rates. And you can work with a whole range of numbers:
The one thing you need to be doing differently with your…
Three things you could do…
Seven reasons why…
The top 10…
A dozen things you could change…
You get the idea. Customers love knowing what they’re going to get, and the numbers help with that. Combine that with the other factors and you’re heading in the right direction.
Know your keywords
Probably should have put this one first, and it’s certainly not one that you can really sum up in just two lines or so. You need to know what words are important to your customers, the things they are searching for when you want them to land on your site.
Then you can combine those with the other points and again you’re off on the right tracks. But keyword research is much more important than that, and it’s something that you should get on top of. If you want to get started, this is a really great article from Moz. Definitely worth investing time in to get right, and then use it effectively.
So, how do you rate your title game? And what would you do differently?