It’s tough out there. If you want to get a lender’s attention you have to be on your game. What does that mean? It means that when you write a blog or any content, you need to make sure that it gets read. That seems easy enough, but it isn’t. Everything starts with a good headline.
In the article entitled “How to Write Catchy Headlines and Blog Titles Your Readers Can’t Resist” by Corey Wainwright, he says, It’s one thing to write great content, but it’s another thing to get it read and ranked, which is where nailing the title comes in.”
Titles are what sell the content. They represent it in search engines, in email, and on social media. It’s no surprise, then, that some of the most common questions we get concern crafting titles.
How long should my headline be? What words should I use? What words should I avoid? Should I optimize it for search, or for social? Or both?
Luckily, we’ve come up with a simple formula for writing catchy headlines and blog titles that you can reference from here on out. So let’s just dive right in, shall we?
1.) Start with a working title.
Before you get into the nitty-gritty of coming up with a perfect title, start with a rough draft: your working title. What is that, exactly? A lot of people confuse working titles with topics. Let’s clear that up:
Topics are very general and could yield several different blog posts. Think “raising healthy kids,” or “kitchen storage.” A writer might look at either of those topics and choose to take them in very, very different directions.
A working title, on the other hand, is very specific and guides the creation of a single blog post. For example, from the topic “raising healthy kids,” you could derive the following working titles:
>>”How the Right Nutrition Can Strengthen Your Kids’ Bones”
>>”A Parent’s Guide to Promoting Your Child’s Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Well-Being”
>>”X Recipes for Quick & Healthy Dinners Your Teenagers Will Gobble Up”
See how different and specific each of those is? That’s what makes them working titles, instead of overarching topics. It’s also worth noting that none of those titles are perfect, they should just be specific enough to guide your blog post. (We’ll worry about making it clickable and search-friendly later.)
2.) Stay accurate.
Accuracy is critical when trying to finesse a title, because it sets clear expectations for your readers. While I’m sure lots of people would love to click into a post that said “10 B2B Companies Killing Facebook So Freaking Hard They Don’t Need Any Other Marketing Channel” … it’s a little bombastic, no?
Unless, of course, you truly did find 10 B2B companies rocking Facebook that hard, and you could confirm that all 10 of them had stopped using other marketing channels. First and foremost, your title needs to accurately reflect the content that follows.
One way to ensure accuracy? Add bracketed clarification to your headline.
So if you remember nothing else from this blog post, let it be this: The most important rule of titles is to respect the reader experience. If you set high expectations in your title that you can’t fulfill in the content, you’ll lose readers’ trust.
Accuracy encompasses more than just hyperbole, though. With the example working title above, you’d also want to confirm all of the examples are, indeed, B2B. Or even that they’re all companies, instead of, say, individual bloggers that target B2B audiences. See what I mean?
3.) Make it sexy.
Just because you have to be accurate doesn’t mean you can’t find ways to make your title pop. There are a lot of ways to make a title sexier.
Of course, all of this hinges on understanding your core buyer persona. You need to find language that resonates with them, and know what they find valuable.
Once you’re armed with knowledge of your buyer persona’s preferred style, try testing out some of these tips for making your headlines a little sexier:
Have some fun with alliteration. The title and header in this blog post, for instance, play with alliteration: “Foolproof Formula.” It’s a device that makes something a little lovelier to read, and that can have a subtle but strong impact on your reader.
Use strong language. Strong phrases (and, frankly, often negative ones) like “Things People Hate,” or “Brilliant” pack quite a punch. However, these must be used in moderation. As one of my coworkers likes to say, “If everything is bold, nothing is bold.”
Make the value clear. As we mentioned above, presenting the format and/or contents to a reader helps make your content a little sexier.
Make it visual. Is there an opportunity to include visuals within your post? Make that clear in the title.
Focus on the “who’s,” not the “whys”. Want to intrigue your audience? Focus on the “who”: Headlines including the word “who” generated a 22% higher CTR.
4.) Keep it short.
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to how long or short your title should be. It depends what your goals are, and where your headline will appear.
Do you want this post to rank really well in search? Focus on keeping the title under 70 characters so it doesn’t get cut off in search engine results.
Are you trying to optimize your title for social sharing? According to our own analysis, headlines between 8–12 words in length got the most Twitter shares on average. As for Facebook, headlines with either 12 or 14 words received the most Likes.
5.) Try to optimize for search and social.
I say “try” because, sometimes, trying too hard to optimize for these things can make your title sound strange. Remember: You want to optimize your title for your audience above all else, but if you can optimize for both search and social, that’s great.
The secret to thinking about all three at once? Focus on keywords that you know your audience is already searching for, then look into the search volume for those keywords.
Once you have a keyword in mind, you’ll want to be sure to place it as closely as possible to the beginning of your headline to catch your reader’s attention. (Again, you should keep your headline under 70 characters so it doesn’t get cut off in search engine results.)
6.) Brainstorm with someone else.
Once you’ve refined your title using the tips above, it’s time to come up for air and connect with another human. Title brainstorming is an essential part of the process.
The final step before scheduling a blog post is pulling another member of the team into a back-and-forth title brainstorm in a chat room. One member of the duo will post the title they recommend into the chat pane window. The other person will then refine that title even further, or suggest other angles. After several back-and-fourths, the duo will agree on the title that’s accurate, sexy, concise, and SEO-friendly.
It’s essential to put your best foot forward with each post that you publish.
About The Author
Michael Hammond is chief strategy officer at PROGRESS in Lending Association and is the founder and president of NexLevel Advisors. They provide solutions in business development, strategic selling, marketing, public relations and social media. He has close to two decades of leadership, management, marketing, sales and technical product experience. Michael held prior executive positions such as CEO, CMO, VP of Business Strategy, Director of Sales and Marketing and Director of Marketing for a number of leading companies. He is also only one of about 60 individuals to earn the Certified Mortgage Technologist (CMT) designation. Michael can be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.