ad image for perfectly planned content

You Shouldn’t Judge A Blog By It’s Title, Or Should You? Why Headlines Can Make or Break Your Content

Have you ever read Impressions? Or did you spend hours in AP English thumbing through the pages of The High-Bouncing Lover? Perhaps the renowned title All’s Well That Ends Well sits proudly in your office?

None of these sounding familiar?

It’s probably because you know them as Pride and Prejudice, The Great Gatsby, and War and Peace, respectively.

Seeing the draft titles of these famous novels illuminates the value of a commanding title. These acclaimed books have stood the test of time. But had they simply remained in their draft form, the painstaking pages may never have seen the light of day.

The same idea is true for your content.

While you may not be setting out to pen the next Great American Novel, you are creating valuable content your audience should see. 

How can you get people to click through from your email, social media post, newsletter, etc.?

Craft an irresistible title.

Titles Are Vital, Here’s Why

To create a post your audience wants to read, start with the title. Your title is the content’s first impression, and internet viewers aren’t about to give your content the benefit of the doubt—if it’s not grabbing them, they’ll bounce.

Titles are critical because they pop up all over the internet. It’s what your readers see when they open your monthly newsletter, and it may be what entices viewers to share your content on social media. Columbia University and the French National Institute found that 59% of shared links haven’t been clicked—a win for solid titles but a loss for readership trends as a whole.

Think about it like this; readers don’t have much information upfront to decide if your content is worth reading. They have two things:

  • The meta description (don’t forget to write this on every post, including target keywords)
  • Your title

You need to have a clear, strong, and persuasive message to pique interest and promote engagement. 

Titles: The Book Cover of The Blog World  

Be honest: have you ever bought a book simply because you were enthralled by the cover or put a book back on the shelf for the inverse reason?

A well-crafted book cover can do wonders for readership, just like a compelling title can allure people to take the first step to view your work.

Imagine that you’ve built a beautiful blog post—one that’s insightful, actionable, and engaging. 

Congrats, that’s no small feat. 

But if a lackluster title casts deep shadows on the post, your lovely prose will likely fall into the depths of the internet underworld. With over 70 million new blogs published each month, how is your content positioned to stand out?

Creating a solid title only scratches the surface in the quest to answer that question. Compelling content requires the following:

  • Deep understanding of your audience (who they are, their likes and dislikes, concerns and hopes, dreams and fears, questions they seek answers to, etc.). 
  • Firm handle on your expertise to address and guide your audience.
  • Persuasive, accurate, and exciting title
  • Valuable and actionable content consistently delivered in your singular brand style
  • Proper distribution of that content via social media, email, etc.
  • Repeat!

Readers Don’t Stay Long, So Focus On Your First Impression.

As much as you strive for the perfect sentences, the reality is (at first) many readers skim your piece looking for valuable tidbits to answer their specific questions.

They’ll glance at your title, headings, bullet points, bold and italic text, and quotes as their eyes race down the page like they’re hunting for Olympic gold in speed reading.

A study by Chartbeat, a company that dissects digital publication analytics, found that 55% of readers spend less than 15 seconds on a given webpage—blogs included. If that trend holds true, there may not be many eyes left scanning this sentence.

While that statistic may make you roll your eyes and question the need for content at all, blogging is still among the top three mediums for content strategy (plus 77% of internet users regularly read blogs). 

There is no doubt that content can transform your business. So many brands find that curating a cohesive digital presence (blogs included) facilitates audience engagement.  

But remember, you have to get your readers to engage with your content first! Your title entices readers to take the first step in clicking, sharing and interacting with your content.

The Anatomy of a Phenomenal Title

A title carries immense weight. 

It introduces your potential readers to the content’s value, sprinkles in SEO-friendly keywords, features relatable, brand-friendly prose, all while delivering a positive non-cliche, or hyperbolic message—simple, right?

Your headline is just as integrated into your content strategy as the actual content itself. It needs to adequately address your audience and intrigue them enough to commit to reading (or at least skimming) your post. 

What makes a title exceptional?

Lyrically—a dose of finesse and a spurt of creativity. 

Actionably—a specific, relevant, and interesting string of words that properly introduces your topic.  

Before diving into the writing process, let’s look at headline statistics orbiting the content marketing space. 

  • Predictive and How-Tos are the top two performing headline types.
  • 8-14 words are optimal.
  • Emotional, action, and positive headlines tend to be top performers.
  • When in doubt, use (odd) numbers to generate more attention.

Here are some best practices for creating irresistible headlines that rank well and increase clicks.

5 Steps To A Killer Headline

It’s time to leave stale headlines behind—they aren’t serving you or your fantastic work! Keep these five tips in mind as you sit down to write your next title.

  1. Know Your Audience

Your audience should be the benchmark for each piece of content you create. Contrary to popular belief, your blog isn’t about you. It’s about reaching and connecting with your audience. 

Understanding the content’s purpose to your audience and your brand is essential to crafting a good headline. If your blog is catered toward retirees, mentions of “hot vax summer” and the latest Tick Tok trends aren’t likely going to resonate with them the same way it might with a business specializing in millennials.

Writing alongside your audience also helps you gain quality readers. While clicks get readers to your page, you want your posts to speak to people who are a good fit for doing business with you—something clicks alone can’t reveal. 

Knowing your audience helps you craft messages specifically with them in mind, providing a higher-quality content foundation.   

  1. Have an End-Goal In Mind

Before you start writing, be sure you can answer these critical questions:

  • Why are you creating this post?
  • What purpose does this post serve?
  • How does the content enhance your marketing strategy?

Having clear answers to each of these questions can be a springboard for ideas and inspiration. It also ensures that your title is grounded in purpose. 

  1. Develop Headlines Alongside Your Content Strategy

To reference one of Netflix’s most popular TV shows, Manifest, “it’s all connected.” Each piece of your marketing collateral should work together to tell a compelling story. 

Your blog headline is just as important to your strategy as the body of the blog, an email campaign, social media post, video, etc.

Think about how each piece of content fits into the overall message. Why are you writing about a specific topic? What do you want your audience to understand?  

  1. Mind the R.A.A.R.E Method

Your headline should be unique and exciting. To accomplish that goal, make sure your headline passes the R.A.A.R.E test.

  • R: relevant
  • A: accessible
  • A: accurate
  • R: relatable
  • E: enjoyable

This is a fun checklist we created to help you create original and unique content. You can use it to gauge your titles, blogs, emails, etc. 

  1. Check Your Work

Sometimes, it’s difficult to tell if you’re on the right track when it comes to headlines. In that case, use a headline score tool that provides insight into your headline’s strength. 

A tool can provide insight into word balance, reading level, commanding/persuasive language, length, competitor analysis, and other metrics. While there are several tools out there, we tend to use CoSchedule the most because it provides sophisticated suggestions for improvement. 

3 Signs Your Headline Needs Work

You likely won’t write the best headline for your piece in the first attempt. You’ll probably scour through several versions before striking the right balance. How do you know if your headline is missing the mark?

  1. It doesn’t offer a clear benefit

Your headline should have a clear value proposition. What will your audience learn? Are you trying to persuade them? How can your article benefit them?

Let’s look at an example.

Title A: Blogging for Beginners

Title B: 7 Simple Writing Tips For Bloggers Just Starting Out

While Title A has a clear subject, it doesn’t describe what the bloggers will learn if they click on the article.

Title B, on the other hand, has a subject and a compelling value-add. It also encompasses strong writing tips like using odd numbers (7) and emotional words (simple, tips). 

  1. The title is hyperbolic and over-promises

Perhaps the last thing you want to do is rev your audience up and prepare them to experience something unique, only to have the piece fall flat. We’ve all experienced downloading or clicking on an article only to have the content tell the same generic story you could find anywhere. How did you feel after that experience? Likely frustrated and unsatisfied. 

Don’t fall into this trap. 

Your headline should be descriptive and interesting, but it shouldn’t mislead your readers or claim to reveal information that the piece doesn’t include. 

For example, your 500 words on budgeting likely isn’t an “ultimate guide.” If you’re revealing “top investing secrets,” make sure that they differ from every other article on investing; otherwise, your readers may leave without learning anything. 

Experiences like this are not only disappointing, but they also discourage readers from coming back. A negative online experience is usually a one-and-done—there aren’t too many second chances.

Your title can be intriguing and expressive; just make sure it delivers on the expectations it set.   

  1. It’s too technical or dry (overemphasis on SEO)

Solid content writing is as much about creativity as it is about following the rules (the SEO) rules, of course. But, remember too much of a good thing can go wrong almost instantly. 

Don’t get me wrong, SEO is important, and it should reason into your work, but should it take top billing? Probably not. 

Think about it like this: SEO is a tool, not the rule book.

Stuffing your headline with keywords won’t get you what you want. Also, making your headline too generic, technical, or dry won’t encourage your audience to click. Just because it makes your algorithm happy doesn’t mean it will intrigue your audience. 

You need to find the balance between high rankings and readability.   

Creating the perfect title for your blog isn’t something you can do in one fell swoop. There are often several iterations before you reach the final version. For example, the Buffer content team cited creating between 20-30 title options for one post. 

By implementing these tips, get ready for a “title” wave of clicks (couldn’t resist the pun).   

A Winning Title Is Only The First Step

You’ve got people to click on your title and enticed them with an interesting introduction, so now they decide to keep reading (yay). 

What will they find?

Here is where you “wow” your readers with exciting content that helps them solve their problems. Once you’ve hooked your readers, it’s time for your prose to shine. You need solid content to keep your audience interested and coming back for more. 

Strong business blogs have launched several firms into success. A strategic and compelling blog strategy can do wonders for your business. It provides a platform to tell your story and communicate your message, a medium for contributing thought-leadership to your field, and, most critically, an avenue to connect with your readers.

A blog post is only as strong as the title that supports it. Writing an excellent title is challenging—some may say it is just as difficult as writing the post itself, which can be true in many ways. 

Your title needs to accomplish several goals in only a few words. Title writing takes practice, patience, and a bit of fun. When done correctly, you set the tone for your brand and the content it produces.

Remember, your readers are just a click away.

Want to chat more about blogging? Set up a time with our team.