The title of an article should be its most attractive part since it’s the first thing your visitors see. If it interests them or captures their curiosity, they will click on the article and read it. If your titles are monotonous or they don’t provide anything interesting, you will lose possible readers.
How long do you take to choose the title of your posts? Are you satisfied with the results you achieve? Would you like to be more original? It’s clear that nowadays standing out amongst the rest isn’t easy. Especially if we try to avoid falling into cheap sensationalism or using clickbaits that will damage our image in the long run.
There’s a lot at stake in your titles. This is why I’m going to explain a few tricks that you can use to make the most out of your titles in order to get more readers.
1. Include keywords
Titles play a very important role in the article’s SEO ranking. For this reason we must include the most relevant keywords of our article in the title, as well as those that people usually use to find this type of content or topics.
Have a look at Google Trends and Adwords to know what keywords your target audience uses. You can even search for related topics on Google (or your favorite search engine) to see similar results to our content and the titles that are used. This can help you as inspiration if you can’t find any ideas.
Once you are clear on the keywords, it’s important you use a couple on your title so that your content is indexed and well positioned; like this people will be able to find it easily.
2. Be brief
Don’t use excessively large titles. The longer a title is, the more confusing it is both for Google and your visitors to understand what the article is about.
Try to make your titles no longer than 60 characters. This way your whole title will appear on the results of the Google search. As we say in Spanish: what’s good, if brief, is twice as good.
3. Use lists
Lists work. In fact, they are one of the most used resources since they are very efficient in catching the reader’s attention. In addition, indicating in the title how many elements or points you will consider encourages your visitors to access the content; they like to know how long you’re going to keep them entertained.
9 Must-Read Books To Become A Better Optimizer, 150+ Marketing Resources You Should Collect or 20+ WordPress Plugins with 1+ Million Active Installs are examples of other posts you can find on our website that have a list as title.
Furthermore, as you will have noticed, in this article I have also used this resource. It’s quite easy to write an article in which you group several concepts under a same context and explain each of them from a different point of view. It also makes it easier to get people to share it on social media if the content is worth it.
4. Generate controversy
Sometimes addressing a controversial topic or one that can provoke a reaction in your audience can be very interesting. If everyone is talking about the good things of the new version of WordPress, you can write a post highlighting the negative side of it (things that are missing, petitions from the community that aren’t covered, etc.)
At Nelio, we have occasionally addressed some controversial topics. For instance, Five Lessons learned after several WordPress paid product reviews is a post in which we explain our negative experience in promoting our own plugins through paid reviews in external websites. We’ve also written the post When WordPress’ Freedom Kills Your Business, which is one of the most popular ones on social networks.
In any case, try not to fall into sensationalism when dealing with controversial topics. That is, don’t manipulate the information or the readers. Yes, you will probably get more visits, but your image will plummet. And recovering from this can be very costly.
5. Solve a problem
It’s quite usual nowadays to find titles referring to tutorials or explaining how to solve some type of problem. The key here is finding a difficulty your audience is having and showing them how to overcome it.
In the article How to Use an Image URL to set the Featured Image we solved the problem of using external images (through a URL) as featured images for the posts. As you can see, it’s one of the most commented posts.
Other examples of titles that try to solve problems are the following:
- Beautiful Google Maps in WordPress
- How to Merge Multiple Blogs into One—Nelio’s New Website (1/3)
- Top 5 Problems All Bloggers Face and How to Overcome Them with Nelio Content
- Create Better Plugins with the Plugin Boilerplate
- Write Better Plugins and Themes with Codeception
6. Reveal a secret
By nature, human beings are curious. And your readers are delighted to read something that most people don’t know. Explaining concepts that are unknown is very useful to make your visitors read the full post. Check out the following titles:
- What no one will tell you about the WordPress plugins
- 10 things your hosting provider doesn’t want you to know
- The key of Automattic’s success
- The best kept secret of online marketing
I’m sure if these titles existed you’d rush to read the full articles. But watch out, be careful not to disappoint your readers. You are creating an expectation that you must meet with your content. If it goes wrong, you’ll lose your audience’s trust.
7. Explain a case of success or failure
Highlighting problems or showing solutions is good, but what people like the most is seeing real cases. The truth sells, and this is why content on events that have happened (to you or a third person) will have a greater impact.
- Is It a Success or a Failure to Merge Our Blogs?
- The Success of Failure in A/B Testing
- What Wired thinks are the reasons for WordPress success
- Some Amazing Facts after a Year of A/B Testing Experiments in WordPress
And it’s even more interesting to explain something you’ve done wrong and what you have learnt from it. This is very appealing and incredibly attractive to mobilize your audience.
8. Challenge the reader
Another option that’s worth trying consists in getting the attention of the reader and gaining their curiosity through a defiant question. Suggest a challenge in the title that motivates them to read the rest of the content. Let’s look at some examples:
- Do you have what’s needed to set up an online shop with WooCommerce?
- Are you ready to increase the traffic to your website without using ads?
- Are you capable of improving your content? Accept the challenge with Nelio Content.
- Do you dare to publish a new post per day? Your challenge of the month.
As you can see, these titles get you hooked on the articles. And if we promote them on our social networks we can manage to expand our audience. With a bit of luck some of these titles will even become viral.
9. Allude to a specific target audience
In this case we try to focus the attention of the title on an objective public. The action of the title falls into a specific group we mention. Let’s look at some examples:
- Optimizing Your Visitor’s Journey
- Have Your Customers Tell You What to Test Next
- Manage to make your boss spend more money on hosting
By doing this, you are making your visitors feel reflected in the title since it describes an action or problem that they have with a third person. It is not easy to achieve a title like this, but if you manage, you’ll get good results.
10. Review it after finishing your post
Once you have finished writing a post in WordPress, review the title you have chosen one more time. It might be possible that while writing you have diverted from the original topic or have gone more into detail in some specific aspects and now the title doesn’t fit as well.
Don’t worry, it’s happened to all of us and it’s something very usual. If this is your case, you’re still on time to modify the title so that it fits much better. Take your time, read the content again, and try to rewrite your title.
On top of this, you should ask yourself a few questions before accepting the title as valid:
- Is it easy to understand what the post is about?
- Does it incentivize you to read it?
- Would you share it on social networks?
If the answers to these questions are mainly positive, you’ve got it. You can approve it and be satisfied with the job done. And most importantly, don’t obsess too much. Simply try and learn.
Writing a good title is certainly an art. Remember to give your titles the importance they deserve and the results won’t take long to appear.
There are plenty of formulas to achieve attractive titles that capture the reader’s attention and incentivize them to carry on reading. The ones I have described are some of the most used and effective you will find. If your website uses other tricks or techniques, don’t hesitate to share them in the comments. We will be delighted to read about your experiences.
Featured image by Dan Carlson.