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Perennial Favorites: Post Titles that Boost Your Traffic

Try these useful tips to grab your reader’s attention from the get-go.

Image by Cheri Lucas Rowlands

It’s the meat of your post that counts, but, more often than not, it’s your post title that first signals to potential visitors they should hop over to your blog. In this post from our archives, Krista gives us some great pointers on crafting titles that work.

You’ve been working hard on your blog: you put thought and effort into your About page, your site title and tagline, and you’ve even picked a funky blog name. You sweat your photography. You read and re-read your drafts to make sure they’re just so.

With over 1.4 million posts published on WordPress.com every day, how do you make sure your work stands out in the crowd? Crafting strong post titles is one way to snag reader attention, pique interest, attract followers, and earn repeat visits. Here are some ideas to think about as you write titles for your posts.

Get original

There are plenty of posts like What Game of Thrones Taught me About Modern Society or Everything I know about Marriage, I Learned from Homer Simpson in the world today.

How many listicles have you seen recently? You know what I’m talking about: 10 Signs Millennials Will Ruin the World, or 15 Ways to Tell if You Really Are a Hipster. Sure, these types of headlines have become commonplace on the web and we too enjoy a funny listicle now and again. If you want your work to stand out from the crowd, you might want to rethink these types of constructions, unless you feel you’ve got a piece that transcends the genre. And in that case, we can’t wait to read it.

Study the masters

Chances are, there’s title inspiration and guidance in the blogs and magazine articles you’re already reading. Are there a few sites or magazines that you really like? Study their titles. Consider what it is about these titles that draws you in.

What captured your attention? What tickled your curiosity? Try emulating your favorite authors when you write post titles. Me? I admire Maria Popova‘s title writing style over at Brain Pickings. Never trite, always enticing, Maria’s posts always end up in my Instapaper account for later brain feeding. Here’s a few Brain Pickings post titles that caught my attention:

Lead with the end in mind

If you’re writing to educate, be it to share a personal anecdote or offer hard-won advice, it’s good to ask yourself: What’s the most important thing I want my reader to remember from reading this post? Crafting the answer into a post title automatically reinforces your most important point for the reader, making sure your message not only gets heard, but remembered.

Try creating intrigue or using the element of surprise with titles by alluding to something readers can only see or learn by reading the post. Consider Maria Popova’s headline above, J.R.R. Tolkien’s Little-Known, Gorgeous Art. Right away, I’m surprised — One of my favorite authors — Bilbo Baggins‘ daddy no less — was not only a writer, but also an artist? This piece of new information makes me want to follow that link and find out about Tolkien’s works of art.

BONUS: How do Google, Twitter, and Facebook see it?

Your post’s title automatically becomes your post’s slug, which is part of the permanent link or URL to your post.

If your post title is fairly long, (over six or seven words) consider editing your slug to remove words such as “to,” “from,” “our,” “this,” “that,” etc., that don’t specifically relate to the post’s topic, for speedier search engine parsing. For example, this post’s slug would have been:

/perennial-favorites-post-titles-that-boost-your-traffic

I shortened the slug to the following to put the emphasis on the main idea: writing great post titles.

/great-post-titles

If you’ve got your blog automatically connected to push and tweet posts to Facebook and Twitter, post titles are what gets sent out as a default via Publicize, so it’s important to consider how your post’s title might be perceived when it appears on your social networks.

As you write your piece, you may also want to think about the words readers will use to search for your post and ensure those words get a place in the title.

And now, over to you

Writing enticing titles is not only an art form, it takes a bit of practice. In your blogging experience, what have you found most effective when it comes to blog post titles? Share your tips with the class in the comments.

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  1. Sometimes it can be fun to write a post with an overly dramatic title; for example, my next post about caffeine addiction will be titled something like “Life as a Recovering Drug Addict.” Sure to hook people…hopefully they won’t be disappointed though when they realize what I really mean.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. One thing is to understand our primary audience and craft titles that will appeal to most of them.

    Also, you can attract visitors with an intriguing title like “Magic Mushrooms Relieve Stress” but few will LIKE or FOLLOW you if they’re expecting herbal cures and your post is about relaxing by gazing at intriguing mushroom-like clouds. Your followers will mostly be meditative types, if that’s the general tone of your blog.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. (On the list of things Krista doesn’t need me to explain to her…)

    My post titles are all similar and usually 4-5 words. The verb is punchy and everything fits into my brand. It has worked for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love the tips here! My college freshman English teacher taught us to be unique when titling our work; we were to make it so that no one else could use that title. I’ve lived by that idea ever since!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. My titles are quirky (often rhyming or alliterative) or else they ask a question that hopefully gets answered in the final sentence of the post. Is that frustrating? Probably!

    Here are my fave rhyming titles:

    “In Synch With Your Shrink-It’s Not What You Think (Wink-Wink)”

    “The Arrest of My Freshly Pressed Houseguest! (In Jest)”

    Fave Alliteration Title:

    “Help Heal Haunted House of Hormone Hell!”

    Fave Question Title:

    “Can You Stay Friends With Your Ex?”

    The latter a one word post!

    Thanks Krista!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. All very creative, imagimative.. I wish I thought of them.
      Necessity is the mother of invention. Which I think you are trying to say.

      Been there done that.
      Relate. 🙂

      DeAnne Marie DuMaine,
      aka Diane D. Martinez
      the ink pen bookstop blog

      Like

  6. It’s always difficult to decide on a title for a post – I tend to only write very short entries as I don’t have a lot of time on my hands so it can be difficult to grasp the essence of the post in two or three words!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. This is all very good information; not sure I could top it.

    But I do have a real concern that in trying to set up my blog here todau
    I keep getting looped around.

    I have rewritten the tagline more than twice and I’m not sure it’s there still.

    I took part in a contrast post and had the whole
    thing finished and
    just as I was about to press post.
    in other words I need HELP

    I’m having such a hard time getting this thing going.

    This is only my second official blog but the first was yahoo and probably doesn’t count because there was no complexity to that set up.
    You just went right to it and put it all in on the page.

    Plz, Is someone reading this that can send for
    HELP!!!

    There’s some other difficulties I really don’t want
    to mention here In getting the text be as it should be.

    Sincerely,
    LOST in Blog Land.
    And, I’m not Alice.

    DeAnne Marie DuMaine,
    aka Diane D. Martinez,
    Author, poet, journalist, short story meister
    also writting as D. D. Martin

    Like

  8. Wow, I agonize over titles to the point that I think I’m being neurotic; it’s nice to be vindicated. It’s not just me! I do think I come up with some great lines.

    I try to incorporate my title or a reference to my title somewhere in the body of the article. It makes for a nice tie-in.

    Like

  9. My favorite tip from you(all of them are great), is the url slug piece. I think shortening it to a few keywords will definitely help boost traffic to my blogs. Also, I tend to be a bit wordy on blogs so this is great medicine!

    Like

  10. I think the title of the post as the face of the article which can be immediately familiar to readers. For some of the post I even took the time to do research and brainstormin to find a good title sentence. Some of them are effective enough to attract traffic to the blog.
    Thank you Krista for your tips on writing a good headline. I like this because it adds to the knowledge of blogging.

    Like

  11. I will forever be appreciative of taking journalism. Even though I hated every minute of that class, post titles were something that stuck with me. Actually, the ONLY thing that stuck with me. Not like my titles are perfect though but there’s a few little rules that I go by.

    Like

  12. I’m part of a vibrant Mental Health Blogging community, so my post titles that grab the most attention are the ones that promise graphic descriptions of my current state of bipolar angst, like this one http://bipolarforlife.me/2014/06/27/enter-the-black-dog/, or this one http://bipolarforlife.me/2013/07/18/the-end-of-the-end/ (I got Pressed for that one, **blush**). I myself am drawn to post titles that intrigue by promising an answer to an implied question. Not a “real” question like “Do Ostriches Really Swallow Huge Things?” Darn, I might just click on that one…! But I would automatically click on “Musings From A Mental Hospital.” It’s not really maudlin, but piques the curiosity in a bit of a voyeuristic way. But that’s me. And after all, I am an Alien…http://bipolarforlife.me/2014/04/04/i-am-alien/

    Like

  13. Thanks for the suggestion about editing the post slug. I’ve seen that when I prepare my posts, but I never really new the purpose other than telling the URL to it. Now, I’ll keep in mind what you said to keep it short and perhaps focus it on the main idea if my title is more creative and doesn’t necessarily mention the main idea. 🙂

    Like

  14. First sentences are equally important. On the reader, you see one or two sentences, about thirty words from the beginning of a post. So I write those to draw people in. (Come and have a look. You know you want to.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. First sentences are equally important.

      Agreed! You don’t get very long to draw a reader in and so those first few words are critical. Great advice.

      Like

  15. I am new to the blogging world and all tips are needed and appreciated. My hardest part will be picking out key words and making them attractive to my reader to give them that wow factor to click on my article.

    Like