Why do people click to read a blog post? Usually because it interests, intrigues or challenges them with information that they think will add value.
Headlines and titles have always been of major importance in offline media, but they’re crucial online too as, more often than not, the headline or title of your blog post (or news article) will be the only thing a reader will see: for example on Twitter, Facebook or perhaps on your website homepage. The title therefore needs to be strong enough on its own to provoke your reader to action.
Here are some suggestions that will help you increase click-throughs and, inevitably, readers:
1. Keep it short
In these days of micro-blogging, many bloggers will aim to have their post tweeted and retweeted far and wide. But with only 140 characters, long titles will require editing down and this might put someone off posting at all. Also, as we all read differently online, keeping it short and snappy will make your title even more engaging
2. Be intriguing
There’s always a fine line between giving the reader a clear idea of what you are going to be talking about and yet making them curious enough to click through and read more. A bit of intrigue can really help!
3. Use powerful, bold words
Use as many bold, powerful words as you can. This will encourage action and will help you convey a strong, compelling argument. Action words too can be a great way to inspire your readers to click-through.
4. Make it obvious what you are blogging about, be descriptive and direct
As mentioned above, it is important to be clear about what your blog post is going to address. If it’s vague and non-specific (or even too clever for its own good!), then it can be ignored. Getting the balance right is tough, but vital.
5. Keywords, keywords, keywords
Never only write for search engines, it is a recipe for disaster. Write for your audience first and you’ll find that, more often than not, you’ll tick the SEO box as well. Sometimes however, it is worth revisiting your title to see if there are any keywords you can add in that don’t disrupt the flow and meaning.
6. Communicate the benefits
Give your readers a reason to read. We are all busier than we have ever been and this forces us to make judgements about what we commit our time to in relation to the value we will get in return. Make your readers clear about the value they’ll get from the outset.
7. Personalise the title
Refer to the reader – ‘how to improve your PR’ – or refer to yourself – ‘My top tips for doing better PR’. This will help personalise the title and make it more engaging.
8. Linkbait it!
There are some titles that have been proven to work again and again in generating ‘linkbait’ (getting more and more people to share and link to your article or blog). These could include: Top Tips, “How to…”, “The secrets of…” etc. It might seem obvious, but it works!
9. Be controversial
We all like a bit of controversy. There is so much content out on the web, that anything too vanilla can quickly get overlooked or ignored. Don’t be afraid to stick your neck out and say something a bit different. It will pay dividends in traffic and awareness.
10. Write for a teenager
This is another tip that comes directly from the traditional media. If you read the BBC website or any national newspaper, you will find that the language used is actually very simple. There are few long, complicated words. A good acid test for this is the teenager test: if you gave the title to a teenager, would they understand it? If not, you probably need to simplify your language.