As compelling as your content might be, the truth is a lot of people won’t even click on an article unless it has a catchy headline. That goes for links you see on search engines, social media, and even email campaigns, so learning the basics of a good title is essential to your blogging success.
The good news is, there are a few simple tips and tricks you can put into action to create better blog post titles. With a little practice, your click-through rate should rise accordingly, and your blog will thank you for it.
In this article, I’ll teach you five tips to create better headlines for all types of content. We’ll also go over good and bad examples, so you know what to do and what not to. Let’s get to it!
1. Avoid Clickbait
Clickbait is nothing new. A long time ago, marketers and writers discovered this type of title usually led to an increase in click-through rates. For a while, you couldn’t go five minutes without seeing a clickbaity title somewhere. Luckily the trend has begun to turn, but some people still cling to their old ways.
Take this post’s title, for example. If I wanted to go full clickbait with it, here’s what it might look like:
- 5 Ways to Create Blog Post Titles Your Visitors Will Love
- 5 Tips to Help You Create Blog Post Titles People Won’t Be Able to Ignore
- 5 Ways to Create Better Blog Post Titles (You Won’t Believe What Number 4 Is!)
I feel dirty after writing those, even if they’re only examples. The truth is, clickbait titles still work to some extent. However, a lot of people have wised up to this tactic, and when they see clickbait, they’ll avoid your site out of principle. I’m one of those people, so I try to keep my titles clickbait-free.
To be fair, you still need to add a bit of flair to your blog post titles if you want them to succeed. For example, you might not have clicked on this article if it was called “Create Better Article Titles” or something equally boring. The trick is to find a middle ground between hyping your content and describing what users should expect.
2. Be as Descriptive as Possible
As far as I’m concerned, the best post titles tell you exactly what to expect once you click on the article. For example, once you read this article’s headline, you knew exactly what you were in for, and that was the goal.
A bad way to approach this title would’ve been something such as this:
- Creating Better Post Titles
- What Makes for a Compelling Post Title?
The first one is way too dry, whereas the second doesn’t mention we’ll cover five unique methods, which is key. If you’re not sure what title to use for one of your posts, just think about how you would describe its content to someone else. Then take that idea and boil it down as much as possible. Titles, after all, shouldn’t be that long.
As a rule of thumb, I try to keep all my titles to below 80 characters. That doesn’t sound like much, but this article’s headline is only 51-characters long, and it still packs 11 words (albeit short ones, mostly).
3. Use Actionable Verbs or Questions
In most cases, using either questions or actionable verbs in your titles will yield the best results. With questions, it stands to reason readers are going to get answers from your article. Action-packed titles, on the other hand, sound more authoritative, and either approach is excellent.
If you’re a regular at Leaving Work Behind, you’ll notice a lot of our post titles follow this formula, like the ones below:
- How to Choose the Perfect Domain Name for Your Blog
- How Much Time Do You Work Per Week as a Freelancer?
- 3 Ways to Ensure Your Freelance Payments Arrive Faster
One great way to come up with titles such as these is to take a look at your content and ask yourself, “What question does this post answer or what problem does it solve?” Usually, whichever response you come up with will make for an excellent title, although it may need a bit of refining.
4. Include Numbers Whenever It Makes Sense to Do So
You’ve probably noticed that people love to use numbers when it comes to article titles on the web. I’m guilty of that myself, as you can see. The reason why is simple, articles with numbers in their titles perform a lot better than those without, in most cases.
The data doesn’t lie. Articles with ten and five within their titles do so well I go out of my way to try and include them within my articles. For this post, I got lucky because all five of these approaches are relevant to creating better post titles.
There will be times when including numbers in your post titles won’t make sense. However, you should always be on the lookout for opportunities. Aside from being more popular, separating your articles into well-defined sections makes them easier to read, so it’s a win-win.
5. Test Different Types of Headlines
Once you’ve been blogging for a while, coming up with titles will become second nature. You’ll write a post and you will be able to brainstorm multiple headline ideas. Your gut will tell you which one to go with.
However, I’m usually more of a data-oriented guy. That means I like to stick with data-proven approaches over trusting my gut whenever possible. To that end, I’ll test different types of titles for my own posts and see which ones perform better over time.
You can do this either using traditional analytics tools or by checking your email campaign’s click-through rates. However, the latter approach only works if you use your email marketing platform to share new blog posts, which is always a great idea (unless you publish new content every day). Once you have enough data, you’ll know what kind of titles your audience loves, which is way more important than any tip I could give you.
One of the most important parts of running a blog is knowing how to attract traffic. Working on your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is just one part of the puzzle, as is honing your writing to create more engaging content. However, sometimes, without a great title, all that work will go to waste.
When it comes to creating more compelling blog titles, there are five things you need to keep in mind:
- Avoid clickbait.
- Be as descriptive as possible.
- Use actionable verbs or questions.
- Include numbers whenever it makes sense to do so.
- Test different types of headlines often.
There’s a lot more to running a successful blog than just coming up with great titles. If you’re not sure how to get your own blog off the ground, check our Start a Blog Guide!