Titles are important. A good title will convince people read your content and entice them to come back to your page. It’s the first impression of your copy, and will either draw people in or push them away. So how do you create a great title? Let’s take a look.
What is a title?
In very basic terms, titles are names of articles. But they aren’t just any names, they must be thought provoking enough to entice readers to click-through the post and encourage others to read it. A shocking 80% of readers never make it past the headline, so you’ve got to create one that motivates the reader to keep going. Creating a punchy and effective titles is a skill, but one that we can learn if we look through the checklist below.
Don’t forget, titles bring in readers from other mediums – they can be used in a tweet, a Facebook post, or even an email subject line, so they should attract audiences that will come across them in these contexts. Keep your tone conversational and friendly to really reap rewards from your catchy title.
What makes a good title?
Remember, a title must sell your product (your piece of content). It must express many things in a very little space, but it’s doable. Here are the top things you have to do to make your title stand out from the crowd:
Know about your subject and your audience
Identify your audience and speak directly to them. In your short title, you must deliver the message that you know exactly what they want and you are the authority on that subject.
Offer a benefit
Why should the reader carry on to read the rest of the article? What do they get out of it? Give them a reason to read further by writing a title that explains how this piece of content will help them. It can be stated directly or indirectly, but just make sure that your copy delivers on this benefit later on. Benefit led titles are very popular on social media – how-to posts are prime examples of this, but more on those later.
Choose your approach
Depending on who you’re writing for and what the topic is, your approach to creating a title will differ immensely, just as it does when writing the copy itself. Some brands prefer more formal and to the point titles, whereas others love puns, jokes and a more jovial tone throughout the piece. Here are some examples to get you started.
Sensational titles – Big claims and wacky ideas can pique a reader’s curiosity, but make sure that you back up those claims throughout the text. Nobody will like your brand for engaging in ‘clickbait’.
Controversial titles – Taking a stand on a big issue can be extremely effective at attracting readers and raising click-through rates, especially on trending topics, but be prepared for negative feedback in your comments section. Posing a controversial title in the first place can put people off your article, and maybe your whole website so be careful how you go. Avoid sensitive topics if you don’t want to risk reputational damage by offending people.
Problem-solving titles – Your readers want you to provide solutions to their problems – that’s why they’re spending time on your content. This links closely with the benefit-led titles we mentioned earlier – offer them relief from their problems and they’ll keep coming back for more.
Formulaic titles – We’ve all seen the ‘How to’ posts, the list-based articles and titles that ask a question – these are the most popular type of title because they really work! They engage the reader by sparking questions in their mind. They want to find out the answer so they read on. Research has found that number-based titles are a whopping 15% more popular than second-place ‘reader addressing’ titles, so make sure your content bank has some of those!
Find the best keyword
In the digital age, SEO should be top priority for all of your digital content. When writing a piece, you should always have your keyword in mind. It’s the same for the title too! Create the title around your keyword so that you’ll get to the top of the search engine rankings.
Find the best words in general
A title should be 8-10 words, so you don’t have a lot to play with. Use strong and specific words that convey your message and capture attention. It’s always useful to have a thesaurus nearby, and dust off some of those old-school literary devices (alliteration, rhyme and metaphors) to really catch the reader’s eye. Here are a few trigger words that will really attract attention (although whether these words are right for your brand is another question):
Keep it short and snappy
Modern consumers have short attention spans, so short titles appeal to them and will entice them to read on. It will also help you with your visibility on social media (as short titles won’t eat up your character count on Twitter). HubSpot’s analysis found that headlines between 8-12 words got the most Twitter shares, whereas headlines with 12 or 14 words received the most likes on Facebook.
Have you got two fantastic headlines, and can’t choose between the two? No problem! Test them and see which one comes back with the better result. Tweet the same link with a different title and measure the response to each tweet. That way you’ll be able to see which type of title your readers prefer.
This checklist will help you make some top-notch titles that will help your digital content soar to new heights and reach more prospective customers than ever before.