Writing great content is important. But if nobody’s actually reading that content, what’s the point? The single most important component of a blog post is its title. Not only should it be effective enough to get your content found online, but it should also be catchy enough to make your audience want to click through and read more. Otherwise, your amazing content will just be sitting on your blog, taking up space and producing little to no return on your investment.

So, what’s the secret to writing eye-catching headlines? There’s no magic formula or foolproof guarantee, but there are certain tried-and-true tricks of the trade that can dramatically improve your blog content’s performance. Let’s take a look.

Start with a rough draft.

Don’t worry about thinking up the perfect headline right off the bat. It often takes a decent amount of polishing to really get it right. So, start with a working title, based on the topic and keyword you’re planning to target in your blog post.

You may need to come back after you’ve already written the blog and play around with the title until you feel comfortable with it. For instance, the working title for this blog posts was “How to write great blog titles.” Obviously, that’s not compelling enough, so we kicked things up a notch.

Be sure it’s accurate.

The web is inundated with clickbait these days, and people are getting more and more frustrated by the minute. You don’t want to associate your business with this type of shady practice, where your title contains a flashy statement that’s untrue just to get more attention.

For instance, we wouldn’t want to title this blog post: “How to Write Killer Headlines that Are Guaranteed to Generate 150% More Traffic.” It sure sounds amazing and would certainly catch the eye of a marketer or business owner, but it’s inaccurate because it’s not something we can truly guarantee. You can certainly be bold, but just make sure you can back up your claims.

In addition to being accurate, you also want to set accurate expectations for your readers. For example, if your blog post contains an interview, video or infographic, including this detail in brackets at the very end of your title can be helpful and effective. In fact, one study of over 3 million headlines found that those titles containing things – like [Infographic] or [Video] – outperformed other headlines by 38%.

The bottom line is, you want your content to establish a sense of trust with your audience, so accuracy and clarification are key.

Make it exciting.

Now that you’ve got a working title and have verified its accuracy, the next step is spicing it up a little. There are plenty of ways to make a basic headline a bit more lively. The key here is to have a clear understanding of who your audience is so that you know what they find valuable and can find a voice and language that resonates with them.

With this information in hand, take some time to play around with your title keeping the following tips in mind:

  •       Use straightforward language
  •       Make the value very clear
  •       Focus on the who rather than the why
  •       Make it visual (paint a picture with your words)
  •       Try some alliteration
  •       Keep it human (speak to the problem and position a solution)

Keep it short and sweet.

There’s no specific formula for exactly how long or short a headline should be. It will ultimately depend on what your particular goals are. Do you want to rank better in the search engines? If so, keep your titles to 70 characters or less so they don’t get shortened in the search results. Our friends at CoSchedule have a pretty awesome headline analyzer that can give you some tips on length and content.

blog titles

Are you looking for more social media engagement? And if so, which platforms will you be sharing your content through? Twitter tends to favor titles between 8 and 12 words while Facebook produces better results for headlines that are either 12 or 14 words long.

To modify length, start with the title you have now and try sounding it out to see if it flows and is easily digestible for your readers. If it’s too long and clunky, play around with different variations and remove any words that aren’t really necessary.

Try your best to optimize for both search and social.

Last, but certainly not least, try optimizing your headlines so that they can be easily found in the search engines and will also be highly engaging from a social media standpoint. (The reason we say “try,” is because accomplishing this isn’t always possible without your headline sounding wonky.)

To do this, aim to incorporate your targeted keyword as close to the beginning of your title as possible, keeping in mind word lengths for the search engine cutoff as well as the various social platforms you’ll likely be using.

If you’ve tried all of these things and you’re still stumped, try brainstorming your headline options with a team member. Putting two heads together can get those creative juices flowing and generate some great ideas you may not have thought of on your own. And, above all, remember to have fun with it. It’ll make your titles much more engaging which, at the end of the day, will get you better results.