There are a lot of stats explaining the value of an article title. I won’t bore you with them, but suffice to say the article title plays an enormous role on people choosing to read the article or not. We all do it, choose to pass on an article because of its headline, or opt to read it. It’s something we know about, at least subconsciously, but very few take it into account when creating their article.
Thor is back for improving our blogs. Why? Because with some simple adjustments, it can significantly improves who finds you and how long they stay. Thor’s experience has given him insight for what works for hobby bloggers.
As noted above, the big reason for taking the time to write effective, eye-catching headlines is to get your article read. That may seem obvious, but let me explain.
Do you use Facebook? How about Twitter? Many of us have a large feed of stuff we scroll through every day on social media. I don’t have the time to read every single thing I see on social media, and I’m sure you don’t either.
What do I read then? Well, the stuff with catchy headlines typically, and I bet you do as well.
Those catchy headlines are also the type to get more likes, shares, etc. In turn, further increasing your reach with your article.
The same is true of blogrolls. Many of us bloggers have blogrolls to promote those blogs we enjoy reading. A fair amount of blogrolls will only show the headline, no image to accompany it, so it’s up to your headline to catch the eye of a potential reader and draw them in.
So, the reason to bother putting the time and effort into creating good headlines is to increase the amount of people who read the article you spent hours crafting.
Blog Post Headline Analyzer
Recently I’ve discovered this great tool for writing article titles. It’s the Blog Post Headline Analyzer by CoSchedule.
The analyzer covers a lot of bases. In short, this tool will give you a numerical value for your article title. It will weigh several factors, like the words used in the title, the type of title it is (how to, list, question or generic), and more.
The other great thing with the analyzer is that you can get explanations for each component. So, you aren’t blindly trying different titles to increase your score. You can see why you have the score you do and how to improve it.
Now, a big focus with the analyzer is to not use a generic article title. Based on the type of blogging we hobbyists do, generic titles are common. A non-generic title would be like the one I used for this article “See How to Write an Effective Article Title”. That title is considered how to for obvious reasons.
Other non-generic types include a list like “Top 10 Mistakes in Writing Article Headlines” or posing a question like “How Do I Write Better Article Headlines?”.
Do those type of titles all look familiar? Of course they do! Nearly every single article title you see plastered on Facebook and social media looks that way. The fact is, those titles work, as lame as it may appear.
Rarely do we wargamers have the chance to write those type of headlines, non-generic. Instead, we’re doing things like “Daemons vs Space Marines Battle Report”, or “Painting a Tactical Squad”.
The tool has value for the generic headlines because of those other factors it looks at, like the type of words used in the headline, the length, etc. Also, generic headlines aren’t inherently bad. It’s all a matter of what you’re writing. Don’t feel like you have to force a title to fit into a non-generic type.
Make it Interesting
Ultimately, just make your title interesting. Look again at this one: “Daemons vs Space Marines Battle Report”. It clearly explains what the article is about, and people will click it for sure. But, it can be better.
How about “Death of an Empire: Daemons vs Space Marines Battle Report”. It sounds cooler, and should pick up a few more readers just because it sounds less generic and adds interest. Generic headlines don’t have to be plain and uninspiring.
Think About Search Engines
The other thing you have to think about with your titles is search engines. I won’t dive into SEO (search engine optimization) value for your article titles, but instead human nature.
When writing an article title, think about how someone would search to find your article. This is what makes those how to types very effective. If I want to learn how to airbrush then I might search for “how to airbrush for beginners”. This, in SEO-land, is what we call a long-tail keyword search; a search term with more than 2 words.
Those are the type of searches people are performing; searches specific to what they need. I wouldn’t just search for “airbrush”, that’s too broad. I might search for “airbrush beginner”, and probably get some relevant results. But, if I structure my search very specific, “how to airbrush for beginners”, then I know the results are going to be extremely targeted to what I want.
Keep this in mind when creating article titles, how people will try to find what you’re writing about.
Since discovering this headline tool, I have gone back to older articles and updated their titles. I only bothered with the articles that I know get a lot of traffic, like the tutorials and reviews. I have noticed a reasonable increase in the traffic those articles get now.
The big increases have been with the tutorials, and that’s because they fit into the how to category. I had those titles, I thought, SEO friendly already, and they were.
For example, one tutorial was “Liquid Green Stuff Gap Filling Tutorial”. The title hit all the keywords I was after, and did pretty well in search engines. I since changed the title to “A Guide on How to Use Liquid Green Stuff” and it’s had a noticeable increase in search engine traffic because it’s more in line with how someone would search for such an article.
Keywords in Headlines
Relating to search engines, and a quick SEO note, is keywords. The long and short of it is this. Write article titles with keywords. Keywords have value to search engines, but also to potential readers.
Take this title “Thor’s Workbench”. I’ve created titles like that, and I’ve seen many article titles like that. That title, however, has little value to a reader, and even less to a search engine. I mean, who is going to do a search for “Thor’s Workbench”? The only people who would bother clicking on that article are those who know me, which isn’t a very large group.
Instead, if I did an article title like “Painting a Chaos Knight Titan”, now I’ve got some keywords going: painting, chaos knight, titan; the things people will be performing searches on. Pretty obvious which article title would get more click-throughs I think.
Hopefully, I’ve given you some things to think about the next time you write an article. You don’t have to write super lame headlines to get people to read your article, but you do have to consider what’s more likely to interest someone and get them to read the article.
Don’t be afraid to use those lame sounding headlines either. They work, it’s a proven fact, so if it’s applicable to you then use it, like I did here. You’re not a sell-out if you create an article title that attracts more readers, you’re just someone adapting to the environment.