As independent bloggers, it can feel like we're constantly straddling that line between authenticity and strategy. We want our blogs to be unique and personal, but we also want to do our best to get that content in front of as many eyes as we can.
On the second day of IFBcon I was chatting with a blogger about how hard it is to pinpoint how much “tactical effort” is too much for your readers. How can we draw them in and still sound like ourselves?
This is what makes crafting post headlines frustrating and challenging — as well as extremely rewarding. I have come to see it as a puzzle that needs solving, like a game. Somehow it has to be short, entertaining, enticing, unique and sharable – all at once!? Bring it on!
6 Elements of an amazing blog post headline:
Keywords: Oh no, not these again! Yes, again! Keywords are so amazing and I will never stop talking about how valuable they can be. Re-visit this post about using keywords to boost traffic, if you must. If you create a post around keywords people are using to find your blog in search engines, include those words or part of that phrase in your headline. (The crawlers put more value on the words in titles and headings.) For example, variations on the phrase “Bean Boots for women” come up frequently in my keywords, so I created a new post titled, “It's Bean Boot Season Again.” The traffic to this post was nearly double my usual number of pageviews.
Actions & tips: Humans are selfish by nature, and self-serving and egocentric. Use this to your advantage. Address the “you” of your audience. What can you provide for them? Do you have something for them to do? Advice they need? “How to” do this. “Ways you can” style that. Have you created a guide to something? Become an indispensable resource for your readers.
Powerful adjectives: If you can back it up in your content, lure readers with “The best” “The only” or “The Ultimate” something. You don't want to be misleading, but if you've found something you're genuinely thrilled about, let your readers know. Whether it's the perfect pair of camo jeans, the most moisturizing eye cream ever, or an essential compilation of Frank Sinatra's greatest hits – give authority to your opinions.
Puns, cliches, play on words: Here's where it's fun to get away from “strategic” headline tips and get creative. I love a good play on words, as well as riffing on popular movie titles, song lyrics or well-known phrases. (Remember that post “Legally Blog” from a while back?)
Use a colon: Among the IFB team, I've been known to create content ideas solely around a headline I dreamed up because it sounded good. I would say more than half the time, that headline involves using a colon to separate the main idea and a brief explanation of it. You can tell we use this technique in a lot of our posts. From “Blogger True Story: My Blog Helped Me Get My Dream Job” to “Links a la Mode: The IFB Weekly Round Up,” this method can be for entertainment, information or organization.
Numbers: We shouldn't have to tell you the power of numbers – it's written all over the Internet. Look at Buzzfeed's almost exclusive “listicle” content technique. Visit any site, from RealSimple online to Mashable to Refinery 29 and you'll see numbers in many headlines. People like to quantify things, people love lists, and people love examples. For these reasons, using numbers in your headlines is a proven success strategy.
Share your best tips for amazing blog headlines below. What titles have been most successful for you?