We finally step into the actual blog writing part of this course. Starting with how to write your blog titles.
Welcome to Chapter 4 of this course on blogging for business and before you start throwing things at your computer––yes, we are gonna get into the actual writing process.
Sure, we could have gone straight to this chapter but believe us when we say the world does not need any more average bloggers who lack depth in their skill.
So, let’s get straight into it.
In this chapter, we’ll tackle the creative writing process in 3 steps.
Writing an effective blog title.
Creating a blog skeleton.
Writing the body of your blog.
We spent the last chapter going over how you can set up a content calendar and now, you’re all set to begin work on the first blog on that calendar.
Let’s start with the blog title!
You might ask, why focus on blog titles at all? Well, to put it simply, they’re pretty much the door to your blog.
If your title isn’t attractive or inviting enough, you could have the best content that possibly exists on the subject, and it wouldn't make a difference. Because nobody would click on your blog post to actually read it.
That’s just painful.
But what do we mean by attractive? Look, you have about 3 seconds to get someone to click on your blog title. In some cases you have less than 2 seconds to grab someone's attention. Think about it, people are either going to see your blog title on a search result or on social media.
If it's search, you probably have other blogs or pages competing with you for the same click and if it's social media, you’re probably interrupting someone's scroll.
Either way, your blog title is key to getting the user to stop and engage with your blog post.
At first glance, writing a blog title might seem easy. I mean how hard can it be to throw a few words together? But, the more you grow as a blogger you will realise that writing a great title is an art in itself. And just like any other skill it takes time to perfect.
David Ogilvy, widely regarded as the king of advertising once said these lines.
“On average, five times as many people read the headline as the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”
Cole Schafer, who runs a fast growing newsletter focused on copy and content, recommends that a writer should spend 20% of her time just writing the title.
Here’s what he had to say.
“If you can’t write a solid headline, you don’t have a snow cones chance in hell to get your reader to read the rest of your copy.”
What a guy.
So, bottom line - get your titles right.
To make this easy, we’ve put together a few things for you to keep in mind as you write a great blog title.
Point 1: Be honest.
Surprising? Let me break that down for you. Your blog title should give the user an accurate description of what to expect in the blog post.
I know it can be tempting to pick a title that might make your blog seem larger than life, but it rarely yields good results.
For example: If you write a title like - THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO COLLEGE LOANS and your blog post is a 5 point brief on college loans, you aren't being honest.
The person clicking on that post expects to be given a lot of insight, information and guidance on college loans, which is not what you’re giving them.
Your reader isn’t stupid. If you want them to come back for more, keep things honest and set reasonable expectations about how your blog can help them. Like, 5 things to keep in mind when applying for a college loan.
Now, someone looking for more information regarding college loans will be drawn to your blog and you’ll add value to their search.
Point 2: Keep it short and to the point.
Trim the fat. Don't try to put in the first paragraph of your blog post in the title. Nobody needs that.
Here is an example:
How to write college essays that are compelling, intelligent and do the job of setting you apart from the competition.
SO MANY WORDS
How about - Write compelling college essays that set you apart
Here’s another example.
The main things to remember while trying to pick a college that is best suited for your needs.
Again, that’s waaaay too much.
Why don’t we try - How to pick the perfect college. Short, simple and it gets the point across.
Here are a few more reasons why keeping your blog titles short really helps!
Titles above 70 characters get cut off on search listings.
Titles with 12 - 14 words have been found to get the most retweets.
Titles with 8 - 12 words got the most likes.
Let’s think about it another way.
Imagine that you had to pay $1000 for every word you choose to keep in your title. What would stay and what would you keep?
Point 3: Be keyword friendly
Remember in the last episode we showed you how to check traffic on certain searches?
One more thing that you can do with the keyword planner is to see if users are searching for specific keywords or phrases.
Here is a great example:
Suppose you want to write about a blog on SAT test preparation. Running the keywords ideas tool on the keyword planner will show you that while SAT prep does have traffic, SAT practice seems to be getting a lot more searches.
That would mean, it would actually be better to use the phrase SAT practice instead of SAT prep.
An additional thumb rule is, if you find a keyword that seems to be getting more searches, try putting it closer to the beginning of your title.
Something like this - SAT practice tips and cheat sheet
This is because we read from left to right. The quicker I can get the user interested in my title, the higher the chances of them actually clicking on the blog.
Point 4: Make it sexy.
Now I understand that most of the points above have been guidelines around what not to do.
Well, here is something you must do. Make your title attractive.
Some ideas for how you can do that.
a. Use stronger words: Think about terms that catch the eye, like brilliant, love, hate, incredible, absolute, must and so on. Strong words draw a person to the title.
10 mistakes you MUST avoid while preparing for your GREs.
b. Use sensory words: Some words help the imagination. They force the reader to feel as though they’re experiencing the sentence. There are sight sensory words that describe the appearance of something like its color, size, shape etc, and sound sensory words that describe what something might sound like and so on.
Consider this sentence -
Seeing that 6'3 man sit on a tiny pink swing drinking a cup of green tea was very comical.
See what we did there? We helped paint a picture. Sensory words can be very powerful when used well.
Here’s an example.
5 college campuses that are so green, you'd never want to leave.
Point 5: Bonus tips
To end this episode, we’ve thrown together some bonus tips that may help as you write that killer blog title.
Some of the words that work like a charm in a blog title are Who, How, What When, Which, Free, New, Announcing, Introducing, Offer, Quick, Easy.
Use a question. Blog titles with a question have shown to almost double a blog’s click rates.
When writing a blog title, start by writing anything between 5 to 10 title options. Then pick your top 3. Then pick your favourite.
The final tip you have to know is this - like a lot of life, when it comes to marketing, there may be a few best practices and tips but they aren’t meant to be treated as rules.
You may just stumble upon a whole new way of writing titles and that’s okay. Just keep experimenting and learning and you’ll find yourself exactly where you want to be.