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A great title is what gets your blog post read

Long blog post short: please be as descriptive as possible when titling your blog posts. In today’s decontextualized world of walls, feeds, RSS, e-mail, diggs, reddits, Stumbles, tweets, and retweets, you need to attract your potential reader based only on the appeal of your title and nothing else, especially if you’re new to blogging and don’t happen to be Seth Godin. Use all 70 characters that Google indexes for each post title but make sure the most important message of the title are nearer the beginning of the title. Don’t bury the lead in the post and don’t bury the lead in the title, either. Tweetmeme and other sharing services chop off long titles so while you should always go long, keep your essentials right at the beginning.

Recently I wrote Blog so you can be taken completely out of context in which I discussed how essential it is to make sure each blog post you write needs to be completely self-contained and self-referential; now, I notice I missed the most important part of every blog post: the blog title.

In 2011, with Twitter, Facebook, Google+, retweets, sharing, and RSS via Google Reader, all anyone ever sees is the title of whatever’s shared, especially if you’re not Beth Kanter, Kami Huyse, Seth Godin, CC Chapman, Shel Israel, Geoff Livingston, Richard Laermer, Olivier Blanchard, Christopher Penn, Chris Brogan or Brian Solis. If you’re one of these bloggers, your title is a little less important; however, your name may well be stripped by the confines of a 140-character world, so a good title is a good habit even for our hallowed celebrities since their personal brand doesn’t always move as fast as the share.

So, though we’re all tempted to indulge in puns, in humor, in wordplay, and in breezy cool, please try to put your editor hat on every time you post to your blog. Who, what, when, where, why, and how. Four Ws and an H.

Also, remember that the title you choose needs to be both appealing, compelling, accurate, and trustworthy to both your human readers and also to machines: the spiders and bots that Google, Twitter, Yahoo!, Bing, and the other search engines send to visit your blogs and everyone else’s shares.

I hate it that WordPress really wants a title first because the title should be one of the last things one provides. I like to save my summary paragraph and my final title until the last minute and two of my editors, Mike Moran, here, and JD Lasica, over at Socialmedia.biz, almost always provide my posts with even more focused titles and summary paragraphs. Of course, these two gems are reformed journalists, so I benefit greatly from their experience.

For this post, I chose “A great title is essential if you want your blog post read” though I would have loved to choose something more cheeky like “All you got is your title” or “You need to have them at hello” or “Bait your blog post with a great title,” though I wasn’t sure. (And we’ll see what Mike does with the final version before it goes live.)

I know how I consume blogs, Twitter, and my Facebook wall, and 70% of my click-throughs are based on the title of the post. Another 20% is based on the person who does the sharing–including the blogger–and the final 10% is the blog it’s on, such as Mashable. That’s my percentage, but an excellent title can draw me to a blog and blogger I have never heard of via a tweeter I don’t know–even to a blog that is obviously a promotional platform.

What do you need in your title? Simple: read your post through and try to summarize it all into a sentence. Don’t concern yourself like I do as to whether your title wraps on the blog when it posts (it doesn’t matter) and also please do not bait and switch the content or stuff keywords that are not germane to the post.

And, it bears repeating, Google indexes 70 characters of each title tag, so use them all. However, some other services don’t, so while you should use as many characters as you need to finish your thought, make sure your most important concepts are weighted towards the front of the title to make sure that the lead isn’t cut off in a retweet or share.

Let me know if you have other tips and tricks for getting folks to click through to your posts in a very competitive blogosphere and mediasphere.  Feel free to email me at chris@gerr.is or call me at +1 202-351-1235

Hi everybody, headline goes here please

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Learn more about Chris Abraham at Gerris digital.

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Chris Abraham

Chris Abraham

Chris Abraham, digital strategist and technologist, is a leading expert in digital: search engine optimization (SEO), online relationship management (ORM), Internet privacy, Wikipedia curationsocial media strategy, and online public relations with a focus on blogger outreachinfluencer engagement, and Internet crisis response, with the digital PR and social media marketing agency Gerris digital. [Feel free to self-schedule a 15-minute call, a 30-minute call, or a 60-minute call with me] A pioneer in online social networks and publishing, with a natural facility for anticipating the next big thing, Chris is an Internet analyst, web strategy consultant and adviser to the industries' leading firms. Chris Abraham specializes in web technologies, including content marketing, online collaboration, blogging, and consumer generated media.  Chris Abraham was named a Top 50 Social Media Power Influencer by Forbes, #1 PR2.0 Influencer by Traackr, and top-10 social media influencers by Marketwire; and, for what it’s worth, Chris has a Klout of 79 the last time he looked. Chris Abraham started doing web development back in 1994, SEO in 1998, blogging in 1999, influencer engagement in 2003, social media strategy in 2005, blogger outreach in 2006, and Wikipedia curation in 2007. Feel free to self-schedule a 15-minute call, a 30-minute call, or a 60-minute call. If you want to know the services that Chris offers check out Services If you want to work with Chris use the Contact Form You're welcome to follow me via Social Media You can learn more about Chris over in About Chris writes a lot so check out the Blog Chris offers webinars so check Events

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Discussion

  1. Avatar Christian Carlsson

    Good post Chris. Marketers should by now know that “You need to have them at hello” – being e-mails, blog posts, any type of message. But it is of course a challenge, especially for those who do not have the “writing skill”. Always a good idea to have someone else read through and perhaps come up with the title. And a sanity check never hurts!

  2. Avatar Cade

    Hi Chris
    I agree, a good title can really boost your traffic, often you have a split second to capture a readers attention, to get them to click through to your content. So a good title is most often the only chance you get.

    Like-wise good subtitles will also help your content being read all the way to the bottom. In todays time-precious times, many website visitors will scan read your content to see if its worth reading all the way to the bottom.

    Thanks for raising an important topic in content writing.

    Cheers,
    Cade

  3. Avatar Don

    Chris – Some of us, that is me, want to yell it out at the start. I find that I have a hard time trying to condense my article into the title, but I am getting closer. Thanks for reminding me that I need to focus on the 70 characters for the Google tag. So important.

  4. Avatar Rox | Landlord Insurance

    Hi Chris,

    I quite agree that a great title can lure a lot of people into your post. However, we must also remember that we should fulfill the promise that our title gives. Creating great title is not just about attracting visitors but also giving people a hint on what they can expect in the content. 🙂

    1. Chris Abraham Chris Abraham

      I agree — baiting and switching from a sensational title to some other type of content breaks the trust you have built up over time with your readership. Well said, Rox. Sorry for the delay.

  5. Avatar Aurea

    A good title for the post is indeed something which can really aid us in garnering traffic. A subtitle is something which can support the post title to keep the readers hooked to the article.

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