Okay, I admit it. Maybe charm school is in order. Maybe your titles don’t flat-out suck. Still, the fact remains: Many of us are investing huge amounts of time writing our blog posts, yet neglecting perhaps the most critical element — the title tag. And great blog title tags are worth the effort.
In fact, they’re the most powerful words you’ll write.
Why are title tags so gosh darned important?
Well, they play a critical role in delivering readers to your content in the first place.
Think about it: What do you see on search engine results pages (SERPs)? On RSS feeds and social media channels?
It’s not the pithy 601-word lament you authored after splitting your favorite pair of skinny jeans or your insightful 1200-word diatribe on healthcare reform.
No, it’s your blog title tag.
And your title tags must do two critical things
1. They must target keywords your audience uses in their searches, so that search engines serve up your content in the first place.
2. They need to generate enough interest to warrant a click. And, as simple as that may sound, it’s a task that’s almost as difficult as towing a car with your teeth.
So, let’s get to the work of injecting your blog titles with awesomeness, shall we?
10 steps to suck-free blog title tags
1. Slow down, Bucko!
If you’re spending three, four, five hours writing a rich, engaging blog post, but whipping up your title in two minutes, you’ve got it all wrong.You poured blood, sweat and tears into your content, right?
Well, if your title is a mere afterthought, searchers may never feel inclined to click your link (if they even see it). And if that happens, all of your hard work will have gone to waste.
So, give your title tag the time it’s due.
Now, don’t get hung up on coming up with the “right” title, right off the bat. Try some stream of consciousness writing and see what bubbles up. Then, set it aside, let the ideas percolate, and come back to it again.
Coming up with a real whiz-banger takes time, but it’s worth it.
2. Keep title tags on-target. (i.e. Don’t mislead.)
Whatever you do, don’t—do not—write a blog title that suggests your post is about six simple ways to get red wine out of white carpet, and then only mention those tips tangentially, while trying to sell me your high-end carpet shampooer.If you do that, I’ll hit that back button so fast it’ll make your head spin.
So, if you want to avoid high bounce rates (meaning, people leaving your site as quickly as they came), you can start by delivering on your audience’s expectations and building trust.
Be honest about what your post is about.
3. Stand out in search with keywords.
You probably have a pretty good idea about who your target audience is, what they want to read, and how they search for that content, right?(And if not, stop now and take the time to do your homework. You can check out the seoMOZ Beginner’s Guide to SEO for starters.)
Then, use the keywords generated from your SEO research in your title tags. That will help search engines and your potential readers recognize that your content is relevant.
Also, try to load those important keywords at the front end of your title, where search engines weight them more heavily and they’re more likely to be seen by someone scanning search results.
(Of course, this advice comes with a caveat: No keyword stuffing allowed. Yes, you need to include them, but you must write for your audience first. Natural language, my friends.)
4. Shine a light on your value proposition.
What priceless nugget of information will readers gain from your content? Whatever it is, make sure you make that abundantly clear in your title tag.See, your readers are searching for wisdom like yours. When they search for, “blog online readability,” they’ll find post and post after post.
Which articles will they read?
If your title communicates a unique value readers won’t find elsewhere, you’re in.
(Your meta description also plays an important role. More on that in a later post.)
5. Keep active.
Passive titles fall flat. So, use active language and put the Vulcan mind-meld powers you have at your disposal to work.
Readers respond to active language and calls-to-action.
6. Short and sweet is best.
If your title tag is too long, search engines will cut it short or, worse, replace it with something they think is more suitable. Do you really want an algorithm making content decisions for you?
Didn’t think so.
The old rule of thumb called for blog title tags under 70 characters. Now, we’re seeing indications that those rules are changing. There is speculation on whether outer bounds are limited by the number of words, number of characters or pixel width, but a title tag of 60 characters or less should keep you safe.
7. Be awesome.
Crafting your title tag? This is not the time to be a wallflower. Granted, you don’t need to be overly dramatic here, but readers are more likely to click your link if it conveys that you’re a subject matter expert.
So go ahead and toot your own horn. Write in a way that suggests you know what the Hell you’re talking about.
Be authoritative. (Heck, even use the word “Hell!”)
8. Elicit an emotional response.
Whether it’s curiosity, excitement—heck, even outrage—it doesn’t matter. The key is to generate an irresistible urge for your readers to lift their index fingers and *click.* So, go ahead and make a bold statement. Brew up some debate. Combine things that don’t usually go together. State what something isn’t. (If you are listening, I shouldn’t have to point out that I am not saying bait and swap.)
All are great recipes for creating a reaction.
There’s a lot of competing content out there. If you say something unexpected, you may stop your readers short and make them look harder at your link.
9. Be personal.
The Web can be a cold, unfriendly place. You can make it less so. In your writing, invite searchers into a personal relationship with you, through your blog. Write in second person, using pronouns, “you,” “your,” and “yours.”
Third person perspective is cold.
10. The hills are alive…with the sound of title tags.
Sometimes when we write, our language becomes less conversational, more stilted. And a great, engaging title tag is music…or poetry…or musical poetry.So, how does it sound rolling off your tongue? Try saying it with marbles in your mouth. (Oh, wait, different movie.)
Pay attention; it’s more important than you think.
(Alliteration is a great technique for adding musicality to your titles, btw.)
Get to it, fellow bloggers!
You’ve got a wellspring of knowledge in that space between your ears, and taking the time to craft an effective blog title tag will help you connect your audience to your wisdom.
C’mon, bloggers: Let’s see what you’ve got!