Every blog post needs (or at least probably should have) a title. Some people put a lot of thought into them, some none at all, and likely most of us are somewhere in the middle. So let’s chat about it.
The amount of effort that goes into picking a title will probably have at least something to do with what your primary blogging purpose is. If it’s your only diary, titles may not be a priority at all. If you’re trying to bring in search engine traffic or make some income from your blog, there’s going to be more to think about.
I like consistency in my world, so every Wednesday I have a post that starts with “Book Review:” and every Friday is a “What Is…” post. Every Saturday is “Weekend Wrap-Up”, which would be a bad idea if I wanted them to be search engine friendly (search engines get confused by duplicate titles), but for that kind of post, I don’t care at all.
Aside from the weekend wrap-ups and some other time-limited posts, I want the majority of my blog content to be evergreen, i.e. just as readable next month/year as they are the day they’re posted. I put more thought into that kind of post title, because I anticipate the posts will continue to get visitors, and I try to roll out the welcome mat.
One thing I’ve been working on is making sure that my post titles on their own give a clear picture of what a post is about. As part of going back and editing older posts, I realized that quite a few of those titles worked with the post, but the topic wasn’t clear from just the title itself. What’s appropriate when targeting my regular readers won’t necessarily work as well to attract brand new readers (such as readers from search engines), so I’ve made changes to a number of older post titles to make them clearer.
I’ve gotten into the habit of phrasing a lot of my post titles as questions. Partly that’s because it seems to fit and they’re easy to come up with, and partly it’s because people often use questions as search queries. The title of my post that’s currently doing the best in Google search is worded as a question: Are Chakras Real or Pseudoscience?
The search engine optimization strategy that comes into play here is long-tail keywords. A term like chakras is going to have massive competition for the top search engine results. If you use a phrase or a question that people are likely to type into search, there will be fewer people searching for that more specific query, but your post is likely to rank much higher.
For SEO purposes, title length also matters. An SEO plug-in will give you specifics, but essentially, you’re looking for Goldilocks—not too short, not too long.
Clickbait titles can range from catchy to completely misleading. Marketing guru Shane Barker says clickbait titles have a shocking/exciting/sensational element, and they’re list-based, contain pop culture references, and reveal some kind of secret.
Search Engine Journal gives a few examples of effective clickbait titles:
- “X reasons why…”
- “You can now…”
- “You won’t believe…”
I see a whole lotta clickbait on Pinterest, and it all seems rather contrived. It’s like there are these fake perfect lives that everyone is supposed to be living which involve doing the 12 life-changing activities to take advantage of the full moon and the 8 morning habits that will change my life. I’m not a fan, and I don’t (or at least not deliberately) do it with my own blog posts. Then again, monetization isn’t my goal, so it makes no difference to me to squeeze out every possible click.
In the end, your titles only matter as much as you want them to matter. If you don’t give a rat’s ass about SEO, your titles are a whole lot less important.
How do you choose titles for your posts, and how much thought do you put into them?