Are You Writing Rockin’ Blog Post Titles?

If you saw the blog post titles below, which would you want to click and read?

  1. “recipe for Last night’s soup”
  2. “My Spicy, Dare-I-Say Sultry Tortilla Soup Recipe”

and

  1. “Whale sharks and othr stuff”
  2. “I Swam With a Whale Shark, and It Blew My Mind”

I could be wrong (seriously, it does happen sometimes) but I’m gonna guess that most of you would click the #2s and pass over the #1s.  These second titles are not only more informative but enticing. Sultry soup? Hey, I’ll try it!

When writing a new post, it may be tempting to downplay your title and throw more effort into your post, but don’t do that, por favor! After all, the title shows up in so many places on the web and speaks volumes about your talents. Just look at where people may come across your headline:

  1. On your blog, of course
  2. On our global tag pages (assuming you’re using tags!)
  3. In search engine results and even in your post’s URL
  4. On links to your site from other bloggers and web sites
  5. On Facebook, Twitter, etc.

When someone is scanning any of these places, you have just a few nano-seconds to capture their attention with your title.

A Very Quick Headline Primer

One of the best ways to improve your headline writing skills is to look at other blogs, and analyze the titles. What do you like? Dislike? How are they enticing you? Or boring you? You’ll notice that the homepage of WordPress.com, known as Freshly Pressed, typically has intriguing headlines. That’s not accidental — we want to showcase great headlines, not just great posts.

Some quick tips:

1. Use capitalization consistently and triple-check your headline for typos. A typo in a headline is a death sentence for your poor little post.

2. In most cases, try to use a verb, which makes the headline more action-packed (the opposite of dull.) Avoid the passive tense if you can.

3. Be clever. Try to entertain with the headline alone. Give your readers some enticement to click the headline and read the full post.

Examples:

Boring: Flight Lesson

Better: I Took a Flight Lesson

Best of the three: I Survived My First Flight Lesson (But Barely!)

Alrighty, readers, I’d love to hear from you: What are your headline-writing tips? How did you make your headline go from boring to beautiful? Share away.

About Joy Victory

Howdy there. I'm a web editor and nature geek.
This entry was posted in Better Blogging, Self-Editing Your Work and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

56 Responses to Are You Writing Rockin’ Blog Post Titles?

  1. ashleylharnett says:

    My big tip would be to make sure that you either check that your title is still reflective of your post’s content just before you post, or write the title after you write the post. It’s very easy to write a great title then go in an entirely different direction with the post – it can be annoying for readers who expect one thing and get another…

    Probably obvious now I’ve said it but I’m sure there are plenty of people who have made the mistake, I know I have.

    http://www.ashleyharnett.com

  2. Joshua Goodwin says:

    Hello, if I were one of those “title case” capitalization people I would never be able to remember which words to capitalize. So I’m not, preferring “sentence case”. Is this allowed?

  3. Everything you said, plus:
    - ‘try to keep it so short that it doesn’t wrap a line’,
    - minimize “the”, “a”, “of” and other ‘fill words’

  4. Stirling says:

    Thanks for the primer on headlines!

    I was wondering if WordPress.com will ever allow more text and font options for the headline–things such as strikethroughs, different fonts, colors, and so forth. I know that it may be impractical (compatability issues with other services come to mind) but I thought I would ask anyway. Or is there a way and I’m missing it? I checked the faq’s….hmmm, I think I may be drifting off topic now so I’ll stop.

  5. Joy, thanks for those good suggestions. Just bear in mind though that not all blogs are personal and don’t all lend themselves to the same degree of ‘rockin’!!

  6. theishu says:

    Thanks for throwing the spotlight on a key ingredient of blog-posts, Joy!

    On my blog “And then”, I personally use a running theme on all my titles and a little technique inspired from dooce.com – a now-famous-ex-Wordpresser. All my posts begin with “And then…” and the rest of it is a cliffhanger, which makes complete sense once you have read the end of the blog-post itself.

    It’s a little self-referencing in-joke which I hope people would find interesting and go “Ah!” :)

  7. beachblogger says:

    Joy, thanks so much for the advice you’ve given. It helped me narrow down the focus for my blog and improve its appearance …

    I guess the thing I always try to do is to make the title lead into the first sentence, or actually be part of it, and as much as possible to make it fun …

  8. trinabaker says:

    Great tips! My blog post titles need some help. Maybe I can add a little bazinga and spice to them :)

  9. planejaner says:

    one of my favorite parts of writing theses posts is coming up with a catchy title. :)
    now, I feel all smartical.
    jane

  10. kenji08 says:

    wonderful tips for a newbies like me…
    what is the major no no when writing a blog title?

  11. Do you feel that blog post titles should clearly indicate the content, or can experimenting with more surreal or quirky titles spark interest?

    • Joy Victory says:

      I actually think mixing the two would have a nice effect. You want people to be able to find the post in search engines, so being too surreal/quirky can mean you lose out on those readers.

  12. Thanks Joy for the tips. Now maybe I can make real estate seem racy!

  13. jimfurman37 says:

    Wow … y’all got my head aspinning! Thank you all for your good posts and I will be back here quite often …. if you didn’t guess it I am a newbie and like a sponge … “soaken it all up”

  14. markp427 says:

    I try to go for clever wordplay whenever possible, i.e. “Amazing Race: How Sweet The Sound” in a post about reality TV, or “Elvish Has Left The Building” when writing about Lord Of The Rings. Taking popular phrases and changing them slightly might make people take a second look.

  15. I have mixed feelings about titles. I personally tend to search for things by typing in questions like: What is WordPress? Then it pulls up things based on that. Doesn’t it make more sense to title your blogs the way that people search? If I want an article explaining WordPress, it may not be pulled up if the title is too cute and witty. What do you think?

  16. bananbra says:

    Some great tips here, thanks! I have to disagree on one thing, though – I really dislike blog posts or other articles that have constant capitalization of every word throughout the titles, and I usually don’t read them if there are other alternatives.

    Now my English isn’t that good, so for all I know that might be the correct way to do it, but to me, capitalization other than in names and the beginning of sentences looks really annoying and makes me want to read something else.

  17. Patrice says:

    Hmm, thanks, I can see I need to create more tantalizing titles. Here are a few I had fun with: PIFing; Cats and Clicks; Mental Sludge, Verbal Oil Spills; She’s No Lassie

  18. thanks for the tips! i will certainly try harder :)

  19. Elizabeth Kilpatrick says:

    Thanks! This definitely will help me! No more boring titles (I hope!)

  20. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you for the great tips! I always try and make my titles as interesting as possible but I’m still on the look out for more ideas. Thinking back on some of my titles, I can see how they could have been better. Although none of them are super drab in my opinion, they probably aren’t as jazzed up as they could be.

    With my titles, I try to choose a line from the post that isn’t too long, reflects the post and could draw people in.

  21. chielmore says:

    Good stuff! Thanks for the post.

  22. Thank you for the great tips. Now I just have to decide if I start dressing my titles from here on out or go back and fix the old ones!

  23. oh, thanks so much for the wonderful tips… , especially when I face writer’s block, and after not being an active blogger for such a long time. *thumbs up* (Those eye-catching titles…)

  24. Beautiful stuff. I found the tips quite helpful and should try them more often now!

  25. Joe Hind says:

    I spend a long time on blog titles but it’s a dark art, which I don’t always get right. I think the people who get it right all the time are the “mad men” of the digital age! They are basically copy-writers by another name. It also depends on your audience. I write a blog for carbon-conscious businesses in one part of Scotland. I try to make it relevant to businesses anywhere but I wouldn’t want to alienate my core audience! Good advice to use action words where you can to avoid that enemy of blog titles: dryness.

  26. That’s a great primer. Looking at my stats I can see headlines do matter, and some have mine have been a little on the dull side, but my most provocative one got freshly pressed. There’s a lesson in there for me!

  27. okikooffice says:

    Thanks Joy for the tips especially for a beginner like me

  28. Great post, thanks for these tips. Will try and make my research blog much more exciting for academics (not sure this is ENTIRELY possible, but I’ll give it a shot!)

  29. take a descriptive topic, add some drops of humor and a bit of spark. add the quirky verb on top et voila the recipe. perhaps

  30. veutzu says:

    Exactly: it’s better to put a joke in the title, or an (apparent) oxymoron, or something that needs an answer. Anyway, something that would make the reader want to see more, something that would make him or her feel the need to have or give an answer.

  31. Urban Daddy says:

    Changing some older titles!!! Thanks for the suggestions!

  32. James Hare says:

    Some great tips there, I will be thinking more about my post titles :)

    Thanks!

  33. thanks a lot for advices!

  34. LindaLou says:

    Great tips. I sure will pay a lot more attention to my choice of titles, as well as many other areas of my blog. I’m still have so much to learn. Thanks for sharing.

  35. Eka Saktiana says:

    Thanks!

  36. thanks for your advices!

  37. misspinkles says:

    these tips are awesome!!
    thanks so much.
    i must keep them in mind for my future posts.

  38. Mia says:

    Informative, thanks a lot!

  39. thanks for the tips. sometimes i find it difficult to write the title of the post. so, i’m gonna try your tips from now :)

  40. ale1237 says:

    thanks for those tips! very useful. I’ll try to think more about my blog titles!

  41. tumakay says:

    thanks for the great suggestions!

  42. Tnx , Such a Bright Idea !

  43. jaclynfre says:

    Writing fun titles is half the fun! Thanks for the practical advice.

  44. davemcd says:

    Great suggestions, just what I was looking for.

  45. I’m definitely new and I appreciate all the tips within this page. Even though I have no followers I’m excited with every stroke of the key. Thanks for the wisdom, there’s so much I gained from this page that I’m eager to apply.

  46. From a brand new blogger, you have really made a difference in the way I am doing things. I looked back at a verrrry old blog I had started and only posted on a couple of times. Even though the posts were good (according to me), the titles blew. No wonder no one wanted to read them. I didn’t even want to. Thanks so much for pushing me in the right direction. Hope it draws a few readers!

  47. simplyshaka says:

    Great tips–I like to think I am super creative with mine but sometimes coming up with the title is the hardest part.

  48. All very thought provoking. I see that I have a lot of work ahead of me. This blogging business really is a business of developing skill and honing your presentation. Thanks for the challenge and encouragement.

  49. lifevenue says:

    Thanks, I’m appreciate of your suggestions…

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