“Do article titles even matter?”

Do fish need water? Does ice cream melt in the heat? Does the RC team love tea?

In an attempt to de-escalate the above dramatics, let’s just say, yes, they do.

Titles are the first (and possibly the only) piece of your content that your reader is ever going to see. If it’s not great, whatever is hidden under that title is likely not going to be read.

“I’m blown away at how hard people work on producing content only to slap on a crappy headline as an afterthought. If you have a great article, don’t sabotage yourself by using a weak hook.”

Larry Kim

So, what does a successful blog title look like?

To increase the odds of having your content read, your article title needs to do the following four things really well:

1. Spark Interest

It’s time to brainstorm! When it comes to your topic idea consider…

What is going to peak someone’s interest during their next Google search?
What will catch their eye while they’re aimlessly scrolling through social media?

Your article title has a huge role to play in sparking interest and bringing people toward content they care about. It’s a wise idea to list out a number of catchy titles or headlines for your articles before writing, then do some research about what’s trending, and try to find a unique angle that others haven’t written about before.

Get creative, but don’t make your title too long! (more on this later)

2. Improve Traffic

An Irresistible headline is the reason someone is going to want to click on that blog post you’ve just shared on your Facebook or Twitter page. With so much content to choose from, offering something a bit different, quirky, or even funny can drive a ton of new traffic to your website – boosting your analytics performance and content ROI.

As an added bonus, that blog reader may even poke around the rest of your website, give you a call, or make a purchase!

3. Leverage Keywords

Search engines like Google and Bing rely on keywords to determine if your content is relevant to whomever is making a search. When it comes to choosing which keywords you include in your title, it’s important to consider which phrases or trigger words may be entered into a Google search by your audience.

For what reason might they want to read your blog post?
Do they have a specific problem or question you can help them with?

If so, don’t be afraid to make a very direct and common question the title of your article. If people are searching for the same answer over and over again, odds are those are the right kind of keywords your post needs.

For more information, check out our article, ‘What’s The Point of Keyword Research?

4. Provide Context – Quickly!

Beware of clickbait!

While it’s a good thing to make your article title intriguing, it’s bad to make it misleading. Two of the most critical things to keep in mind when coming up with title ideas is that they must be relevant and provide quick context to your reader.

We’re sure you’ve had the negative experience of clicking on one of those “You Won’t Believe What Happened To Her Skin!” posts only to be led to a sponsored ad post for an unrelated product. Trickery and deception rarely results in satisfied readers.

We believe that great brands should be authentic, honest, and provide value that never undermines the intelligence of their customers.

So, what are the best blog titles?

Research shows that some of the best performing articles feature some similarities. Check out some of the headline examples below to see if you notice any trends:

  • The Ultimate Guide to Writing More Effective Headlines
  • The Step-By-Step Guide to Writing Powerful Headlines
  • How Killer Blog Titles Will Make You Successful
  • What is the easiest way to write an article?
  • 5 Top Reasons To Make Writing More SEO Friendly
  • The Best Ways To Measure The Performance of Your Content

If you noticed words like “best” and “guide” and “how to” drawing your attention, you’re not alone! These words tend to help improve the click through rate of articles.

Listicles also get lots of attention! That’s when blog post include tiles with countdowns or lists such as “10 Things You Need To Know”.

“Headlines matter. Maybe that sounds obvious and most of us know this. But do we all spend as much time as we should on headlines? I suggest spending nearly as much time on the headline as on the article itself!”

Michael Brenner

How long should my title be?

According to Hubspot (2017), longer is typically better — to a certain extent. Research shows that the best performing titles feature 14 words, followed by 15 words, 11 words, and 12 words. The same study also warns that titles should never exceed 56 characters, as this will cut off display.

Which kind of article titles should I avoid?

According to Buzzsumo (2017), the following phrases have prevented people from opening content:

  • “Control of Your”
  • “Your Own Business”
  • “Work For You”
  • “The Risk Of”
  • “The Introduction Of”
  • “What’s New In”

In our experience, it would appear that this drop in engagement is due to the somewhat threatening, self-reflective, and accusatory nature of the above titles.

People don’t like to feel pressured or overwhelmed, they instead want to feel uplifted with helpful, hopeful information that will make their lives and jobs easier!

Happy title writing!