Blogging and Writing

How Do You Choose Your Blog Post Titles?

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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.

SEO

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 Goldilocksโ€”not too short, not too long.

Clickbait

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?

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69 thoughts on “How Do You Choose Your Blog Post Titles?”

  1. Wow, I’ve never thought about it before! I usually choose a title that simply seems relevant to the content, or that has some distant connection to the content (in my mind, anyway). I can’t believe I’ve never stopped to think about how the title should reflect the content, but that seems like a no-brainer now that I think of it! [Nods.] But I mostly blog for fun, so it’s just creative expression, for the most part. There’s something thrilling about doing diary-style blogging and knowing that someone out there will read it. So much more fun than secretly writing in a locked book!! YAY!!

  2. I usually try to reflect the topic of the post in the title. Every Tuesday I share a weekly journal post and every 2nd day of the month, I’m sharing a measurements post. I never really thought about search machines. I just hoped my titles would reflect on the post and if people were looking for something like that, then maybe a search option would show my site.
    You’ve visited my site ๐Ÿ˜‰ any tips on my titles or? Just curious now ๐Ÿ˜‡ Thanks for giving me some food for thought.

  3. I usually start with titles that are unique and intriguing, then I realize no one will know what the posts is about and change them. I end up with titles that are much more descriptive but way less creative.

  4. I admit to using a bit of clickbait in my titles from time to time. I try not to abuse the clickbait too much, but I do make a point of not having the title be too misleading or sensational relative to the content.

    For poetry in response to a prompt with a specific word limit, the title is whatever words I couldn’t shove into the body of the poem

  5. Usually I begin writing the blog until an appropriate title occurs to me. Then I title the blog according to that thought. Until now. it’s never crossed my mind to consider SEO or what type of title is likely to get more hits on the post.

    1. I usually start with the title (or a title, anyway), mostly because I’ll create a draft when I get an idea and then come back to actually write the post later, and titles make it easier to keep track of my drafts.

      1. This too. I sometimes just write whatever is on the top of my thought process and go back to change it later. But honestly, it’s so much work to do it with SEO in mind, I just don’t bother.

  6. It’s quite interesting that I never think about this before.
    Some people take an equal amount of time to select titles and writing blog content.
    Choosing a perfect title is necessary coz, SEO plays a role there.
    You don’t want complicated words or something that users will never search for.
    Speaking of myself, I always try to connect the title with that one sentence on which my blog is based.
    Ex- If I write a blog on privacy, then, I’ll select a sentence(Bit cool to hear) & will attach it with privacy.

  7. This is something I’ve been giving a lot of thought to lately. Obviously, I want to increase my following, since I’m a new blogger, so clicks matter to me. But I also don’t want to misleading, I can’t stand click-bait, so I’m trying to find that balance and remain authentic.

        1. Dear yikes I have like 9 million drafts!…hahahah! A title will interest me, I jot it down, then something else will interest me. Rinse/repeat.๐Ÿ˜œ๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™€๏ธ

  8. I struggle with titles. Lately I’ve gone for the purely descriptive. Song lyrics and quotes from things I’m currently watching on TV can be useful. I went through a phase some years ago, when I had very few readers, of posting bizarre, unrelated and almost meaningless post titles, probably a result of having a rather nihilistic outlook on my life from depression at that time.

  9. Sometimes I start a post without a real title in mind and then try to make the title match the content. Other times I have a headline that sounds interesting to me, but might not be that SEO friendly and trying to match the sub-headings to get better rankings seems difficult at times ๐Ÿ˜…

  10. Aha, youโ€™ve certainly raised a good few points thatโ€™s making me reconsider my blog-post-title-generating system๐Ÿ˜…

    i think as of now, I’ll ignore the SEO laws just a bit, and just put in titles that i personally find enjoyable, eye-catching, or fun and which summarises the content of the blog post

    (For example, I’m particularly chuckling to myself over ‘Let’s destroy the Irish Course’, though I’m pretty aware it’s not SEO friendly)

    That being said, I do want to make something out of this blog, and concentrate on it being more searchable and SEO friendly in the future, to keep my income-making opportunities open. Though, I will say the thought of putting in hugely click baity titles like โ€˜TOP 10 REASON WHYโ€ฆโ€™ and โ€˜3 EASY AND QUICK STEPS TOโ€ฆโ€™ does make my inner self cringe a bit (since I did this for some of my old posts). Do you not find them problematic, or do you think theyโ€™re just a necessary evil to succeed?

    1. Why we destroying the Irish Courses!? Cliff hanger. Why!!? WHERE is the link to the post? Did the Irish Courses NEED destroying? Have they worked the last nerves? Which ones? Spill. Please/thanks. Enjoyed this response very much. I post to engage not for money. Though, not opposed to making money. My problem would be would I start focusing on making money than making my point so don’t go there…great responses…

  11. Sometimes I struggle with a title, but for the greater part it is usually just something that pops up.
    I try not to have a disconnect between the title and the body of the post. I hope that is shows through.
    I am not really that concerned about search engine optimization. I write for me and try my best to make it somewhat interesting for the person reading.

  12. I try to convey the overall vibe of my post in a concise way so you know what’s about to be said ๐Ÿ˜ but sometimes it’s hard to be creative at the same time

  13. ZERO ideo what SEO even is. Fascinating read, as per your usual. My titles choose me. Some are a play on word that thrills me to no end. Some may be punks intended or no. Some are to make one think one thing when the subject is really about something else. Some make me laugh just because of them. Some are a whole post message without having to write one word. Some are to make one think. Folks just don’t seem to want to THINK, on their own or for themselves, these days! ALL are meant ultimately to encourage me and others to keep it moving, KNOW he/she/they have got this and are loved. Long response. Your fault for having such a wondrous question. Had to stop eating bacon to answer. ๐Ÿ™‚๐Ÿ˜Ž

  14. Thanks for your own insights into title selection. I worked for a company where SEO and clickbates mattered a lot. I don’t think so much about this when it comes to my own posts, but this work influenced me enough to think in this way and be less authentic for that matter.
    It’s a subject worth thinking a little bit more about.

  15. I used to be really into dramatically obscure titles that were โ€œmysteriousโ€ in my mind but completely nonsensical to anyone else! These days I try to sum up the thesis of a post in a sentence and perhaps a subheading. I havenโ€™t gotten the knack of WordPress formattingโ€ฆ Iโ€™d love to have a subheading as the text people see under the title instead of an excerpt from my first paragraph because my first paragraphs are often proximally related anecdotes that donโ€™t make sense.

  16. I usually tend to go for ‘not so blatantly obvious’ but not totally cryptic either. I remember when being trained in promotions to go for something that catches the eye … some might suggest clickbaiters, not that they were called that back then, but probably now … but l try to avoid clickbait headlines. Usually the strangest titles are on questions – but otherwise, l tend to have an inner headline within a series.

    Great topic.

      1. Oh l know, l get very annoyed at clickbaiters – plus they always seem to use an image that has absolutely nothing to do with anything?? Like, what gives on that??

  17. Titles give direction to the blog as also tells the reader what to expect. Though I just select titles based on the relation with the content but agree that a catchy tag line may always be better than a routine statement.
    Stay blessed always
    ๐Ÿ™๐ŸŒน๐Ÿ™

  18. I honestly didn’t even know what SEO was until you & Rory were commenting about it recently ๐Ÿคช Shows how much I care, right?
    After four years of blogging I have just over 500 followers, with maybe 50 being real people๐Ÿ˜‚ which is perfectly okay with me.

    I choose my titles at the beginning. They might change several times, or not at all, but I try to be descriptive and witty at the same time. ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿผโ€โ™€๏ธ I probably don’t do a very good job at either.๐Ÿ˜†

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