How to write titles for blogging and digital media

Do a Google search for the “best things to do in Paris” or any city. See the dozens of posts, written and visual, that come up. That’s what you’re competing against every time you create a post. Even when you think you’ve found an original niche with very little competition, someone has already done it.

Bloggers, that’s why you need a catchy AF headline. (That just means your headline needs to be catchy And Fun…)

So how to write headlines that get clicks without looking like click-bait? Well you might not like to hear this but it starts with actually having good content. Maybe you’re sighing in relief. Maybe you’re content being click-bait among the dregs of the internet.

Whatever your purpose out there, these tricks of the trade will help you put your best foot (and content) forward and lead to more real views and engagement with posts, and have them coming back for more.

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Okay, here we go!

  1. Avoid click-bait.

clickbait.jpg

We’ve all seen those headlines : Someone did something. You won’t believe what happened next. You know it’s click-bait but you still are dying to find out WHAT HAPPENED NEXT!? Have you ever clicked on a click-bait link? How did it make you feel?

Those headlines are built to get clicks, but behind them there’s very little useful content, so the people who click through get turned off and will know better next time to avoid your scammy posts. Plus there’s a high bounce rate, which means they don’t stick around for long and they certainly aren’t going to click any of the other links on your page.

If you have to resort to click-bait headlines,  you’ve messed up somewhere earlier in the process of actually creating good content. Which leads me to

 

  1. Do some research.

Maybe you spent your entire trip in Paris drinking wine and eating cheese, but now that you’re back, open Google and do a little search on the hotel you stayed in or the sites you visited.

You can still do some diary-talk (like I had such a great time at the Eiffel Tower, the view was breathtaking so I kissed my partner there) because it lets your readers relate to you. But weave in little known facts about Paris that may surprise them, and teach them all that you learned about how to pair cheese with wine like a true Parisian (that’s’ actually a great headline!). Now that you have your content, you can write a catchy headline (5 things you never knew about Paris) that will actually hold up.

People prefer good quality content that they can learn from, and it makes them remember you. That’s what will get them coming back again and again.

 

  1. Provoke emotion, or curiosity

Remember those click-bait headlines? The reason they’re so effective even though we all know it’s a scam, is because they poke at that little curiosity inside of us, and provoke an emotional response: shock.

But cheap clickbait is not the only way to provoke emotion. Again, it comes down to content: including photos and sub headlines.

Here is an example from Buzzfeed news just yesterday:

Screen Shot 2018-08-16 at 10.20.32 AM

Photo from Buzzfeed News, buzzfeed.com

We see Aretha Franklin, the name of her iconic song, Respect, and that automatically piques our interest: oh, why is she suddenly in the news? That small prick of curiosity draws our eyes down to the subhead: “Aretha Franklin… has died.”

Now we’re emotional, maybe sad, maybe confused, worried about the future of Soul music, without the Queen of Soul. Now we have to click through and find out why she died, and how did she rise to become the Queen of Soul?

Remember, you’re not just writing a headline. On most social media and in google search results, your headline is accompanied by a brief excerpt of your post, a subhead, and a tumbnail or image.

The sub-headline is as important as the main headline, which brings me to my final point:

 

4. Keep it brief but informative

You want your headline to be as short as possible while still providing all the right words that are going to help your post get ranked in search results.

Let’s go back to the Paris example. Let’s say your post is about the best things to do in Paris.

Lead with the words that you think people are actually going to search for. For example: “best things to do in paris” Pro tip: it’s always better to include a number because it gives people a solid idea of how much they stand to learn by clicking on your post.

So now we have “10 best things to do in paris”. But If you’re new to blogging, or still growing your website, this title is a little too vague because there are so many people already using this headline, your post will get buried.

Now you need more specific keywords:  “10 best things to do in Paris on a budget” or “with your boyfriend/girlfriend/mom, etc” Just try to keep your titles about 70 characters or less. (That example is about 40 characters.)

This is why sub headers are so important, because they allow you to differentiate your post even further.

Imagine:

10 best things to do in Paris on a budget

I flew to paris with only $1000. Here’s how I ate and traveled for two weeks.”

Or something like that.  Now there’s an element of surprise (only $1000!? two WEEKS?!) PLUS people know exactly what they’re going to get by clicking on your post. Its up to you to make sure they leave satisfied and come back again, by following step number 2 in this post.

 

For more on this, you can also see How to stand out as a blogger, where i share 5 more lessons from 5 bloggers on the rise.

 

Thank you for reading!

 

How did I do? Let me know below!