The role of your blog, eBook, whitepaper, or video’s title cannot be downplayed. If it doesn’t hook your audience, chances are they aren’t going to go any further with it.
In fact, you have only about five seconds or less to grab their attention and get them to read, watch, or listen. In other words, the title is your content’s chance to make a good first impression. This shows just how valuable titles are when it comes to attracting more eyes to your brand’s content. As such, it’s always wise to put ample attention to crafting good titles as part of your content marketing strategy. If you go for boring, mundane titles, fewer people will consume your content, no matter how good they are inside.
Optimising Titles for Search
Titles also have serious implications beyond attention. It’s usually a good move for the title to contain your focus keyword or keywords for improved search engine optimisation (SEO) results. Briefly defined, SEO is the practice of getting more online traffic from free, organic, and editorial search engine results. Putting the right keywords in the title could be the difference between your content appearing high on the first page and it being relegated to page 2 (and beyond) of search engine results.
Using keywords also informs your reader as to what the topic of the content is. If they don’t feel it’s relevant to them, they’ll probably just ignore it. But don’t just stick keywords inside the title without thought; it should look and feel natural and not forced for the sake of increasing hits.
Using keywords specific to an industry or product can help improve search engine results as well. Doing so lets a reader know immediately if it’s relevant to their needs. This is especially important for businesses in niche markets since they need to make their content stand out as well as be relevant to their target audience.
In terms of title-building, if you want to make it more interesting (thus, increasing your content’s chances of being read), here are a few things you must take note of:
Curiosity is a great way to grab attention and to set up the specific and valuable information you’re going to share through your content. One way to use curiosity is to go with words such as ‘who’ and ‘why’; these are terms often used in questions and you using them gives the impression that you’re going to provide answers. In fact, headlines which contained the word ‘who’ actually generated a 22% higher click-through rate (CTR) than headlines without it.
Aside from using specific words, you can use phrasing techniques to pique your audience’s curiosity. Phrases like ‘how to’ and ‘tips on’ set up a ‘promise’ to the reader that they’ll learn about something if they read, listen to, or view your content.
Keep it Short
Brevity is typically a good rule to follow in building your headlines. If they are too long, they’ll be cut off when posted on social media, which will confuse your target audience. Studies on CTRs indicate that eight words is the optimal length for creating a title. With only a few seconds to gain a reader’s interest, it’s better to be more to the point rather than add fluff words. Titles shouldn’t be wordy; they should be concise and tied to the key message of the content.
Punctuations can also impact your title’s click-ability. Using them can make a title more interesting, engaging, or even elicit a bit of controversy and mystery. Posts with a colon (:), hyphen (-), or a dash (—) actually received 9% more clicks compared to those without punctuations. Be careful with using punctuations though. Be sure you know how to use them and apply them the right way to your headlines. A mistake could negatively impact not just the perception of your content but also of your brand as a whole, especially if you’re aiming to be a thought leader in your field.
Your content should accurately portray what the content’s focus is. Make sure it reflects what the content contains; think of it as a sneak peek. Avoid using titles that misrepresent the content and mislead the audience. If they learn that you’re misleading them through your content’s title, they’ll avoid reading your other content in the future and label your brand or site as dishonest or not trustworthy. Nobody likes being ‘clickbait-ed’ after all.
If needed, you can try adding a bracket before or after the title to avoid confusion on what the content is all about. A recent study of over 3.3 million paid link headlines showed that those which used the brackets [Podcast] and [Infographic] performed 38% better than headlines without them. Using brackets this way makes it even clearer for the audience in terms of what your content exactly offers. For example, if they want to view an infographic about a certain topic, adding [Infographic] to the title makes it easier for them to know that your content might have what they’re looking for.
Ask a Question
Many blogs, brands, sites, and publications often use questions as content titles, and for good reason. Questions basically summarise what the reader can get out of your content. Also, titles in the form of questions can attract more attention and add a bit of dramatic flair, making readers more curious about what your content is all about.
However, as much as possible, you should also provide at least some form of an answer. Readers don’t want to be ‘left hanging’. They don’t want to feel excited over something that will leave them feeling underwhelmed after. If you don’t have specific answers to the question you used as your title, make sure your content is good enough that they’ll be able to extract value out of it, such as a nugget or two of information.
Last But Not the Least: Be Creative!
When combined with the aforementioned tips, a little bit of creativity will help you create titles that not only accurately represent your content, they stand out too, in an online sea of filled with ‘ordinary’ headlines. Your target audience will recognise this, which is a big positive in your efforts to get more views for your brand’s content.
Title Examples that Won Plenty of Views
Income, a blog for web entrepreneurs, shared 10 of their headlines which collectively garnered over 10 million views. The list revealed different headline strategies such as using “How to” titles, asking questions, and adding a bit of controversy. Listed below are a few of them to give you a better idea of what a good title could look like:
- 21 Ways to Dominate YouTube: The Ultimate Guide
- Parenting Guru: From Chaos to Access
- Are You Too Clever For Success?
- Want To Immediately Reverse All Your Health Issues?
- 10 Reasons Civilization May Collapse Because Of Organic Foods
Got that? Now go ahead and start creating better content titles! As with any other discipline, you’ll probably encounter a bit of difficulty in the beginning but, don’t fret! As they say, practice makes perfect.