1. Focus on titles
I know. Duh. But think about it — how much time do you spend on your blog post titles, truly? For the Content Marketing Institute, we spend an average of 30 minutes per title in search of the absolute best wording. That adds up to a good chunk of time, but as I explained above, what’s the point of having an excellent blog post if its title won’t draw in traffic? Take the time to think twice about your blog titles or, if time is tight, bring in an outsider (like CMI did with me).
2. Never write blog misleading titles just to get people to click
No matter how sensational and marvelous your blog post titles are, if your content doesn’t live up to your title, say goodbye to returning visitors and conversions, and say hello to a high bounce rate and a bad reputation. For a hypothetical example, take a post titled “9 Steps to Social Media Monitoring Success,” that actually only describes nine features of the monitoring software company publishing the post. Title-content mismatches will only confuse — and alienate — readers.
3. Find the right keyword
If you have SEO targets for your web presence, make sure you are using your blog post titles to help you reach those targets. But even if you already have extensive SEO research at hand, you’ll likely find yourself wandering into new keyword territory at some point. In these moments, I rely on Google Adwords’ keyword tool to help me decide between keywords.
For example, I often use the word “headline” to talk about blog post titles in order to avoid confusion with SEO page titles. But a quick search on the Google Adwords’ Keyword Tool tells me that “blog post titles” gets 260 searches a month, while “blog post headlines” only gets 16. (That’s why the phrase “blog post titles” is in this post’s blog title!)
Be creative. Meditate before you start brainstorming titles.
4. Position keywords near the beginning of your blog titles
This is a good SEO practice for both robots and humans. Let’s face it. We humans are too busy to read to the end of a long title to find the term we’re searching for (I know, it’s pathetic).
5. Use numbered lists in blog titles
We all groan about numbered lists in blog posts. But the truth is, they work. In our research, titles that began with a number performed 45 percent better than the average.
Another approach is to start with a keyword and include a number later in the title. Take “Content Marketing Checklist: 22 To-dos for SlideShare Success,” for example. We tested both title types, and when the headline started with a keyword, it actually performed slightly better.
While one approach to this method is to work more numbered lists into your blog content strategy up front, you can also use a numbered list in a post after it’s written. Is the post split up into sections? Can those sections be numbered? Boom. But again, don’t mislead your readers — make sure a numbered list format actually fits the content of your post.