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Crafting Excellent Titles

I distinctly remember sitting through a Language Arts lesson in second grade. We were writing short stories, and we were learning all about how to create catchy titles for our work. At some point or another, we all received different variations of this same lesson. And you know what? It likely didn’t make titling your marketing content any easier.

Whether you’re writing a blog post, an eBook, or a white paper – you need a title that’s going to catch the attention of your readers without veering off into dreaded “click bait” territory. So, how do you do it? And what things should you keep in mind?

Title SEO

Let’s start with the most concerning topic for internet writers everywhere – search engine optimization. Everyone wants to know how their titles play into their search ranking, and how to improve their standings. There’s a lot of confusion around this topic, so let’s work on simplifying things.

First, pick one or two search terms for your content that remain consistent across the board. Typically I recommend a niche, service, or specialty.

Here are a few examples:

Niche – Women in Tech

Service – Fee Only Financial Planning

Speciality – Student Loan Repayment

Second, decide on how you’d like to optimize the particular piece of content you’re working on. For example, if you’re writing a blog post on debt consolidation benefits for women in tech, you will want to incorporate “women in tech” and “debt consolidation” into your post title. In a perfect world, you’d incorporate these keywords in the beginning of your title (as long as it still sounds natural).

Keep in mind that SEO is not a one-and-done thing. It can take years of consistent content focusing on the same few long-tail keywords to build up your ranking. SEO also doesn’t stop suddenly with your title. You should work to incorporate the long-tail keywords you’ve chosen into the headers and body of your content, your content’s URL, meta description, and image alt text.

If you want to know more about how to create search-friendly titles, consider using Google’s Search Console and Search Analytics Report. You should also check out this blog post from HubSpot – it has some amazing information on optimizing blog posts.

Content Title Capitalizion

This may sound silly, but you should also take capitalization into consideration. People often title blog posts using different capitalization, which is confusing for the reader. You want your brand to stay consistent while looking professional.

In most cases, classic Title Case is your best bet. This rules of AP Title Case are:

  • The first and last words of a title are always capitalized
  • Capitalize all verbs, nouns, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, and some conjunctions
  • Capitalize all words longer than three letters
  • Capitalize verb phrases

What Does Your Audience Want?

Of course, there’s more to titling than just the technical side of things. Your title needs to capture the topic your audience wants to read about. A good place to start is by using a free blog title generator, like HubSpot’s. The ideas won’t always be perfect – but it should help you get the ball rolling.

I also recommend thinking about how you’re going to structure your content’s topic before writing a title. A few questions you can ask yourself are:

  • Am I answering a specific question with this content? If so, what question?
  • Am I providing a list of facts?
  • What kind of content am I writing? (a guide, checklist, overview, exploratory review?)

Being able to answer these questions will often bring natural titles into the spotlight. Some examples might be:

  • How Do You Roll Over a 401(k)?
  • 10 Facts About Retirement Planning You Need to Know
  • Health Savings Accounts: Your Complete Guide

These titles don’t have to be final – they’re just a baseline to help guide your content during writing.

Be Transparent

Finally, titles of your written work shouldn’t be complicated. It’s tempting to pepper them with alliteration and “fancy them up” a little bit. But do you know what readers want? To know what they’re getting into.

Keeping titles simple and straightforward helps you focus on your chosen keywords and it helps readers zero in on your content as something they’re interested in. So, when in doubt: keep things transparent.

Stay On Brand

This isn’t something we typically think about when it comes to titling our content, but it’s important. As a financial advisor, you’ve worked hard to develop a specific brand. Some advisors have a laid-back brand. They want clients to feel comfortable, and they want to come across as genuine. In this case, an overly formal content title isn’t going to make any sense.

On the other side of the coin, if your advisor brand is more polished, you don’t want to publish a blog post with a title that reads as easy-going, or overly personal. Whatever your brand is, use phrasing in your title that indicates consistency.

Don’t Overthink It

Whatever you do, don’t overthink it. A title is one small portion of the overall quality of your content. You are a rockstar financial planner, and you have so much value to add to the lives of your audience – don’t doubt that, and your content will shine!

Are you still struggling? Sometimes getting stumped by titles is indicative of a larger problem – like struggling with coming up with blog topics, or being unsure about how your content fits into your overall strategy. I can help. Check out my Free Blog Ideas for Financial Planners list, or book a one-hour strategy session with me to talk through some ideas.