The good news is social media and blog-hosting websites have made it easier than ever to get your voice heard by a large audience. The bad news is you’re not the only one working toward this goal. How do you make yourself stand out among all the other talented and persistent writers in the blogosphere? With readers’ attention spans dwindling, you’ve got to hook them from the get-go. This means starting with a clever and clickable title.
Make a List, Check it Twice
The news and entertainment website BuzzFeed built their brand around “listicles,” which has shown to increase traffic to your site. According to Stephen Hull, executive editor of the Huffington Post UK, slide-show or “click-through” listicles create more page impressions, which increases advertising revenue. Believe it or not: there’s a big difference between a top five list and a top ten list. Headlines with odd numbers have shown to generate a 20 percent higher click-through rate than headlines with even numbers, according to the content discovery platform Outbrain.
Although shorter articles have shown to attract more readers, long titles are actually more likely to get retweeted. However, there is a limit to an effectively long title. Social media expert Belle Beth Cooper says to aim for a descriptive, keyword-heavy title that lies somewhere in between 120 and 130 characters. This is especially valuable for sharing your blog on Twitter.
Keywords are the Key
The basic way search engines work is by matching search terms with relevant keywords around the web. So even though you can probably think of a more clever way to title your article, it helps to include a few keywords to encourage clicks from interested readers. Titles with 10 words should have at least two keywords to promote SEO (search engine optimization). You can also improve SEO by placing keywords in the metadata of your article, which is easy with a little introduction to HTML from WebHostingBlueBook.com.
To Ask or Not to Ask?
Outbrain’s research also revealed that titles ending in question marks generated a higher click-though rate than those with exclamation marks or periods. However, studies have concluded that three exclamation marks receive nearly twice as many clicks as any other punctuation mark. Still, you probably shouldn’t abuse this power. You can ask a trivia question, or ask a question that appeals to emotions, such as “How Long Will Your Next Relationship Last?”
Try, Try Again
Even though there are some general rules of thumb when it comes to writing titles, sometimes you just have to test a few different methods out to see which ones your readers respond to best. Google Analytics is a great tool for monitoring traffic to your site and recognizing visitation patterns. Eliminate less fruitful titles and try to keep other variables of your blog the same to make sure you can single out a specific cause and effect for your web traffic.