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15 Ways to Rework Your Next Blog Post Title

titles.pngThis post is task #32 (a bonus one) in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog challenge.

Your task today is to rework the title of the next post that you write

OK – so you need to have a post written before you can do this one but assuming you have a post ready to go – here are a few reflections on getting the titles of blog posts right.

Why the Title is One of the Most Important Elements of Your Next Post

The title of your next post is the main factor that people use to determine whether they’ll read your next post. This is true in most places that people are going to stumble upon your post whether it be on a search engine, in an RSS feed, on a social media site, in a link from another blog etc.

A great title will draw people into the post and give them reason to read it.

A bad title will more often than not be ignored, glossed over and mean a post goes unread.

As a result – bloggers need to spend at least a few minutes thinking specifically about the post title before publishing. Without it all the effort that you put into your actual post could be wasted.

8 Tips for Writing Compelling Blog Post Titles

Much has been written on the topic of writing great blog post titles and I’ll link to some great resources below – but here are a few strategies and tips that I’ve found useful (note: to get a full explanation on each of these read my post How to Craft Post Titles that Draw Readers Into Your Blog):

  1. Communicate a Benefit – a title should tell readers something that they’ll ‘get’ by reading your post.
  2. Create Controversy or Debate – not suitable for every post title but there’s nothing like Debate to get people checking out a post.
  3. Ask a Question – in my experience posts with questions in the titles tend to get read more than others – they also are better at stimulating comments from readers.
  4. Personalize Titles – for example: using ‘you’ in your post title (and post) can have a real impact and take a post from the realm of ‘theory’ into a more personal post.
  5. Use Keywords – keywords that signal to readers and search engines what your post is about can help draw in significant traffic if you use them well.
  6. Use Power Words – Not all words are created equal – some evoke a powerful response in readers – words like ‘free’, ‘stunning’, ‘discover’, ‘warning’, ‘secrets’, ‘easy’ etc all work well in my experience of blogging.
  7. Make Claims and Promises – as long as you can back them up in your post – a big claim or promise can get someone’s attention.
  8. Humor Titles – be careful with this one – funny can work great but it can also leave your readers very confused if it’s too cryptic…. or if it’s just not funny.

Again – you can get a fuller description of each of these 8 strategies here.

7 More Tips on Writing Titles

1. Run it by Your Blog Buddy – on day 15 of the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog you were encouraged to find a blog buddy. The activity of writing titles is one thing that having a blog buddy is best for. I have a couple of fellow bloggers that I regularly ping with an instant message to bounce ideas off when it comes to titles. More often than not the quick conversation that follows improves the title considerably.

2. Consider Title Updates – I know that this will annoy some bloggers who don’t believe in updating posts after publishing them but I personally don’t have a problem with updating post titles after they’re published if it is clear that they are just not working. The only thing to remember is that some blog platforms derive their URLs from the title so you’ll only want to make updates if you can keep your old URLs in tact.

3. Write for Readers First and Search Engines Second – some bloggers try to write titles that are so optimized for search engine optimization that they forget their actual readers. It’s possible to have a post that ranks really well in Google but that is so poorly worded that even though it ranks #1 nobody will click on it – keep readers as your #1 priority.

4. Keep it Simple – I find that it is often the most simple and straight to the point titles that simply say what the post is about that work the best. There are times to be a little ‘clever’ but more often than not it is a title that clearly gives the topic and communicates a benefit of reading the post that will get clicked on most.

5. Learn what Works and Repeat it – Don’t feel you have the reinvent the wheel with every title that you write. The more posts you write on your blog the more you’ll begin to learn about what works and what doesn’t work. When you find a format that works well with your readers don’t be afraid to use it again. Of course you won’t want to use exactly the same title more than once but you’ll begin to see some formulas that work (see my link to a great series by Brian Clark below – it contains some title formulas to try).

6. Don’t Oversell Your Post – the temptation with blog posts is to make them so compelling and have such a big promise that they go beyond what the post itself can deliver. In doing this you create an expectation in your reader that you just can’t fulfill. Don’t oversell yourself or you’ll have disappointed readers on your hands.

7. Numbers and Lists – Tried and True – one of the most successful types of posts (and therefore titles of posts) are the good old ‘list post’. The title that tells readers how many points you’ve made has something about it that just seems to connect and compel people to click them.

Let me finish with the advice I started with – take your time with your blog post titles. You invest considerable time and effort into your actual posts – don’t short change yourself by slapping the first title that comes to mind on them.

Further Reading

For a little extra inspiration and instruction on how to craft great blog post titles check out these resources:

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Woo.. great tips… let me add one more tip that might be of use to writing title, and that is you can go to Digg.com to see the top ten title of the most Digg, and select those powerful keywords.
    Hope this tip might give you a way to find powerful keywords to use in your blog title, since Digg is a big social site.

  2. Tip 8: Write something negative. For example: Why You Will Die in Next 8 Days! (OK, I overdone it here but writing something on this line e.g. “10 Reasons Your Page Rank Will Fall Next Month” will attract lot of eyes!

    Tip 9:Write Bad About Someone Famous. I once had to click a link to post “Why John Chow S-u-cks” just because of title! Another one that atracted me to click was “7 Things John Chow Can’t Do But I can”

    Asking Question is a good way to attract anyone. Last month, after Google Page Rank Update, my post titled “Google PR Update: We got 2, What about You?” got lot of comments simply because of question in title. (Post had only 150 words + 1 poll!)

    Your advice of not overselling is great! Many good posts disappoint readers because writers claim more than that in the post.

  3. This is a great tip! I reworked a title of a post on my blog a few months ago and it doubled the click through rate from search engine traffic. For this particular post I used a ‘power word’ and it worked a treat.

  4. Great tips, I tend to write the title first and then write the post, I then come back to the title and see if i can change it to reflect the article better. As you say its all about testing what’s good for your blog.

    Communicating benefits seems to work well for me, but the lists post takes a lot of beating.

  5. “Write for Readers First and Search Engines Second”, is a great reminder for a lot of new bloggers like me … a natural tendency of a newbie to simply create traffic.

    I had no issues with updating titles in wordpress. This happened about twice, hasty tying lead to typo errors :D

  6. Apart from the reasons mentioned, a title is very important for SEO as well for the following reasons:

    1. The HTML title tag is very important for search engines, and carries a lot of weight.

    Many people do not have tools / plugins / widgets that can help them have a specific HTML title tag for every post – by default, most blogging software used the post title as the HTML title tag as well.

    2. Most people don’t change the post slug. This means that it also contains the title of the post.

    Again, the post slug is among the most important things for search engines.

    Due to these reasons, it is very important to craft the title well. This means you should include your keywords in the title while still making it readable (and enjoyable) for human readers.

    As Darren said, “Write for Readers First and Search Engines Second “.

  7. In my opinion blog post titles should be easily readable and understandable by the readers then only they will read the post .

  8. I’ve been thinking long and hard about blog post titles and have been tracking what titles bring more people to my blog.

    Apparently there is a lot of interest in minimalist living nowadays and combined with my zen influences had given me some great titles that have attracted a lot of people. Simplest way for me to check this is post the blog post title on twitter and see how many people visit my blog through that twitter post.

    “How to” “Minimalistic” “zen and the art of” all are great ways to get people to my blog so far. Works like a charm.

    Take a newspaper and skim through the pages, what article titles makes you read them? Find ways to duplicate that.

  9. I believe the reason list titles do so well is because it makes the promise of what the reader is going to get by reading the article very concrete.

    I’m, very soon, going to submit a very important guest post to WTD. And… I really am struggling with crafting a good title.

    And, I hate to create a title that I don’t fully believe in. But I might have to if I can’t come up with something that I find gangbusters.

    I agree that having a blogging partner is a fantastic idea. I have on more than one occasion e-mailed other people asking for help with a headline.

    I believe that headlines are so vital… so essential… that you really can’t blog too much on this subject. Great post, Darren.

  10. It would be interesting to see if you can put the most mundane post title you can and see what the drop in traffic is? I wonder if it matters much less on established blogs. I guess these things can never be an exact science – I find sometimes the most unexpected posts get all the attention!

  11. Very helpfully for people starting blogs…and also for experienced ones thanks for sharing!

  12. I’m not sure if i can follow all the steps listed on this. You need and effort, creativity and ideas to create good post that can attract readers to stick with your writing. I think I don’t have that. I’m like to write simples but reachable. But thanks for the tips.It can be guideline for me to write attractive post after this. Cheers.

  13. Titles are the thesis to your blog articles. They should tell the reader what is being argued and why they should read the rest of the post. Although a good title is sometimes difficult to create, a great one really improves pageviews.

    Also, writing titles after you write the article really improves the quality of the headline.

  14. Title is the first line that everyone reads on the blog post. so for sure you have to make a catchy title….moreover nice tips are shared here in this post.


  15. I especially like the idea of writing for your readers first then SEO. I haven’t tried asking a question so I think that’s one I will try out.

  16. Once I write a title for a post, I do a quick check (for SEO results) by using the Google Keyword Tool: https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal by entering my initial title and sorting the suggested keywords by search volume in order to make little adjustments that include some keywords that could get more traffic.

    So, in this way, I make sure that I can have great titles for both humans and search engines.

  17. Its like a good seo fact, because the post title are seems to be producing regular readers to our blog, so your tips are once again “TOP”.

  18. In my opinion blog post titles should be easily readable and understandable by the readers then only they will read the post .

  19. Thanks for these great suggestions. I struggle all of the time with titles. It’s so difficult to come up with a title that is descriptive and accurate and yet catchy enough to draw readers in. Most of my titles are not at all imaginative, but hopefully they give readers a good idea of what to expect.

    I do like the idea of numbers and lists and hope to do more of those in the future. Having a numbered list helps to keep me on point as well.

  20. Your post title is Equivalent to The Headline in advertising copy…so as Darren says it should scream Benefits…it’s the Hook! Then Body, Then Call to action!

  21. Indeed! Lists do work! A colleague said this to me before: “It’s like a point system. You have 10 facts, that’s at least 10 points on your score. What’s the other side got?”

  22. Sometimes I just wonder whether my post title will be read because of the title itself or the content. Yes title is important. But too many cases I found where post title becoming hype and hurting the readers. Just my two cents.

  23. Thanks for the good tips, Darren. I have been seeing a lot of people use the | symbol in their titles lately (like griz and vic) and was wondering if this is a good idea. Wouldn’t that cut off possible longtails?

  24. The next blog post title that I have took a few minutes to come up with but it does need some work. I try to have good titles before publishing a post but some of them end up being average. Coming up with great post titles is a challenge for me.

  25. Since the title of a post is the first thing a prospective reader sees, it is of extreme importance. As Darren says, though, we must deliver on what the title promises.

    Darren, I am glad you did a day 32 dbbb. Perhaps you could throw one in each month? It has been a good learning experience!


  26. salman says: 05/23/2009 at 8:42 pm

    WOW! Great tips

  27. Using keywords, numbers and list in your post titles are very effective.. thanks for reminding us and for sharing other important tips on how we can improve our next blog titles Darren.

  28. Like Bill Masson, I write my post titles last. I generally jot down an idea to get me started, then go back and rework the title before posting. I love that the 31DBBB challenge has day #32 in it. Any chance of #33…?! I still have so much more to learn!

  29. Very good, and totally right on the button .. again!

    Only one downside to this … your ‘share’ options on the blog doesn’t have a ‘twitter’ option.

  30. Great tips, Darren, and some good resources from the rest of the ‘class’ here too. I just imported 3 blogs into one and I found myself changing lots of headlines based on my new-found knowledge. I deleted not a few posts, as well. Really looking forward to the collated lessons from the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog. Cheers!

  31. The idea of titles to me is to get my keywords in and to solve a problem, I try to answer a question in my titles if thats possible. Such as How, Where, Do They? And then put my long keywords tails in the mix, it’ works for me, and then I get more things I wanted to say in the title and put them in the tags, seems to be working, great poist again Darren, http://bambilashes.com/

  32. From my experience, titles that ask questions and are use power words bring more traffic to my posts..

    I also use serch engines to find out if any one has written any similar title…and rewrite my title to ensure it does not duplicate any title already ranked high by search engines

  33. Changing titles later on, wont it affect SEO?

  34. These are all great tips. Especially the tip about asking a question in the title. When you ask a question that is short simple and streight forward the reader tends to click imediately. That means you have gotten they’re attention. They are willing to think bout what they have read and then come back.

  35. I totally agree with you, because title is one of SEO factor.

  36. I really wish I had more time to read this blog! Damn internet connections in the third world. Great post and titles are something I know I need to work on but after writing the post, more often than not I just want to get it up rather than spending too much time thinking of agreat title. Thanks for the tips… I’m sure they’ll help as I work towrads non-crappy titles.

  37. Great info as usual.. just one thing Darren.. In the line “2. Consider Title Updates” you said “keep your old URLs in tact” when it should be “intact” .. Got you a typo mate! ;)

  38. ThatBloggerBroad says: 05/24/2009 at 4:00 pm

    Question: If I’m using an SEO plug-in (in my case, All-in-One-SEO) to create meta data for alternate titles for my posts, do I put my most “compelling” title in the SEO title or the real title? Which is going to show up in RSS feeds, etc.? Can I afford to be more humorous, esoteric, pun-y, etc., in my real title if I create a great alternate title?

  39. Title is important. As far as I know. We should try to put the most relevant words of the post on in the title as well as the permanent link of the post because google search engine will rank your post higher when people search for those keywords on Google. Of course that is in SEO points of view.

    My we blog”
    Stock Traders Blog” is an example of applying that principles

  40. I think the most imporatant aspect while writing one’s topic for the post is to create a sense of curiosity for the reader to come and read your post. All the tips given will help in that. But if I have to take just 1 tip with me, then it will be the fact that one needs to write for the reader first and then for the search engine.

  41. Great post — I struggle with my titles, they are usually harder for me than writing the actual post. This article gave me some good reminder points.

  42. One of my greatest sources for headlines are magazine covers. These guys are experts at creating catchy headline phrases that make you want to purchase the magazine.

    My favorites are Readers Digest and magazines like Self, Good Housekeeping, Allure, Glamour, and Womans Day.

    Whenever I need a good headline idea I head over to my local bookstore and peruse the magazine racks.

  43. I just reworked a blog title according to your tips, and I have a good feeling about it! It’s not published yet, so I’ll see ho it turns out in a few days. Just from following other blogs and such, I feel as though taking the time to redo this one post title seems like a post I’d be more willing to click on than my other posts. Thanks for the tips, I’ll be bookmarking this post. :)

  44. I think that my best title-successes so far were with titles that were straight to the point – no gimmicks, no tricks.
    Deliver what you wrote and you see that people visit you – no games.
    Of course the titles should be KWs rich but I don’t play with intentions, the words under the title play a roll too.
    Readers are not fool, they can read beynd words and sense when you trick them.

  45. I have to fight the desire to write cryptic titles. I mean batman rubber donut coffee popsicle love bunny sugar under pie.

  46. The title is the first thing you notice about anything you read, post title is your advertisement, an opportunity to both inform and excite readers. A good title can mean the difference between having your article read, and having your article passed by.
    The title should be made simple and clear!

  47. Great Tips! Really these tips are very helpful to me for writing titles. Thanks for sharing.

  48. Thoughtful and just what I need for my next post.

    If I may I ask, when it comes to keyword and humour (a famous quote etc), which should be the main considerations? I have been told once I could use the humour to attract readers, and later change the title back to keyword/seo friendly. Is this what we should be doing?

    Hope to have some opinions on this, thank you.

    Social Media/Blogging

  49. Excellent collection of info! The title is one of the (if not THE) most important part of the post because it’s what gets people to click. For some reason, it’s also one of the most neglected.

  50. Thanks Darren

    I upgraded my blogging at the same time as the 31DBB and owe a lot to your wise words..plus the sense of community which this has created.

    Very many thanks

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