We’ve all done it.
You write a brilliant article, riddled with ingenious gags, insightful tips and life-changing advice.
And you top it off with a title that is puzzling, perverse and impenetrable.
The title might make sense in context.
The title might seem witty and wise – to anyone who has read the article and decoded the joke.
The title might make you smile.
But what about everyone else?
Does your title mean anything to the uninitiated?
Does your title make sense to anyone with a different frame of reference?
Does the title tickle the fancy of your new readers – as well as your faithful regulars?
If you write a blog, you’re obviously free to write whatever the hell you want.
But if you want people to read your posts – and if you want new readers to discover your words through search engines – then you need to think twice before furnishing your latest article with an obscure gag that only 2% of the population will get.
May we suggest a few guidelines for creating effective titles?
1: Tell it like it is
You could argue that a curious reader might be sucked in by a puzzling title – but I would argue that many more rushing readers will skip over your titles because they don’t have time to unpick your riddles. How can you decide if an article is appealing if you don’t know what it’s about?
Alternatively, if you use the title to explain the point of your post, readers can easily decide if they want that information or not.
2: Make a promise
Your title can be a promise to the reader – a promise that you are going to share something interesting. What does your article have to offer?
3: Think of the search engines!
If you want people to find your articles via search engines, then you should write clear titles that include relevant keywords.
Before you click ‘publish’ on your next post, consider how someone would search for that post.
If your article is the answer, what is their question?
4: Write titles that have a long shelf life
Commenting on current events can leave you with titles that only make sense for a few weeks – or to a very limited audience. Consider the lifetime of your article. Will the post’s title make sense in twelve months’ time?
5: Review your old blog post titles
Every blog post you write is an asset. You can make the most of your assets by giving them inviting, keyword-rich titles, or you can hide them away behind something clever and obscure.
If you have a batch of blog posts with dodgy titles, consider revising them so they are reader- and search engine-friendly.
What do you think? Do you have any tips for writing titles that draw readers in?