Do you struggle to come up with catchy titles? Hitchcock intended to terrify audiences with Wimpy before the title was transformed into Psycho, and executives cringed at The Ship of Dreams, then whipped it into Titanic.
I’ve crawled hundreds of posts from blogs in the digital space covering topics like SEO, creative design, and copywriting to discover nine title traits which result in posts with particularly high numbers of social shares. How many of these do you consider when writing post titles?
Tips, Ways, Tricks, Techniques, and Secrets - Be transparent in what type of content your post offers. Many posts offer up valuable information in the form of “secrets” or “tips” to help people gain insight quicker.
Number - People want to know exactly how many ideas they’ll absorb if they bother clicking through to your post, so offer a summary count in the title.
Scare Tactics - Not the most pleasant tactic, but a negative tone can work well to spook the target market enough to spur them on to read your post.
Power Adjectives and Adverbs – The jazz hands of the grammar world. Adjectives and adverbs make things that aren’t exciting seem exciting. Some of my favourites include: killer, awesome, converting, awesome, easy, simple, and crazy.
Time and Money - People pay attention when big numbers are thrown around. Incorporating financial figures shows hard evidence of value backing up data so it’s more reliable. Sharing how much time will be saved or lost in a post title also illustrates the significance of your content in an easy to measure way we can all relate to.
Question - Readers are inclined to respond to questions, so don’t forget the 5 W’s: Who, What, Where, When, Why, and their little friend How. Of course, this is also a good way to match your content with popular search queries.
Vague New Words and Terms - Sometimes, it’s the unfamiliar that breeds curiosity. For instance, I recently wrote a post called How to Measure Your Link Spread. Link spread may not be a known term, but most people in digital circles can imagine it’s something to do with the topography of one’s link profile.
Target Market - Name the target market in the front of the title, so readers who identify with the piece can read it easily.Celebrity - Incorporating a major celebrity is a good starting point, as it aligns the content with someone the target audience is familiar with. Do keep in mind that incorporating celebs can shorten the lifespan and relevance of your post, as a chosen popular icon falls out of favour with time.
A few more options I noticed that did particularly well include these areas:
- 101 beginners guides
- Technical how to’s
- Announcement of a new event
- Anything about a new buzz word
What rules do you stick to when writing titles? Are there any patterns you’ve noticed in successful blog posts? Tell us what’s worked for you in the comment section below!