Because blogs have become such a vital part of so many marketing efforts, it is critical that all their constituent parts be appealing and informative. This includes the title.
You can avoid alienating your readers if you also avoid annoying them. Of course this is a challenge, given that you have such limited space and such minimal access to your reader’s attention. However, you can reduce your chance of irritating potential customers and clients by eschewing the following all too common errors.
1. Titles that don’t give a clear indication of the subject matter:
Your readers, customers, clients, supporters, or donors– whatever their reason for coming to your blog post – has very limited opportunity, time, and attention to grasp your topic. They may have less than a second to read your title. They must decide instantly whether this is something they need to read, want to read, have the discretionary time to read, and are willing to invest the time to read. For your part, you have those same pitifully limited fractions of a second to let the reader know why they should click on your post at all.
You need to be crystalline and transparent in the way you convey your content. Never mind that you may want to sell a product or service in the title as well. It is very important that your title reflect what the blog post is actually about. Otherwise you risk confusing your readers and potentially losing some who could actually use the substantive information you are providing.
You also may make readers resentful because they will feel that although they are being offered an informational blog, they are getting something else instead. Of course, you need to start by knowing what you are trying to convey in order to express it succinctly and accurately in a few words in your title.
The technique that this writer uses is as follows: to create the topic sentence as precisely and as truthfully as possible, and then pare this down to the absolute minimum.
2. Titles that are just plain meaningless because of confusion over word usage:
Have you seen the phrase ‘kick-up’ used where it should be ‘kick-start’? Have you seen the word ‘preponderance’ used where the near-but-not-quite synonym ‘superiority’ would be more graceful and more accurate? Have you seen a blog post title that included the awkward near-miss phrase, ‘going an extra mile’, rather than the more usually seen ‘going the extra mile’? These painful misuses of the English language trip up the eye and make the brain ache. If you can avoid doing this to your readers and potential clients, do so!
There is no secure defense against such mistakes except true literacy. You need to be comfortable with idiomatic English (or whatever language you are using) or hire writers who are entirely at ease with it. There is no reliable substitute.
In the absence of a writer who is fully fluent and facile with language, you can fall back on the online guides to grammar and usage. There are grammar checkers as well that cost something in a subscription or a one-time fee, but if you are doing a great deal of blog posting, it may be worth it.
3. Titles that promise the best, the worst, the newest, the most effective, the ultimate – perhaps even including the title of this post!
While this title format is tempting, sometimes ineluctably so, it should be kept for only those situations where it is really justified by the facts of the case. Asserting that you have identified the ultimate of whatever item is under discussion, and then just recycling what everyone already knows is a tease for the reader that may result in resentment.
Try to be restrained in your claims for your blog posting content. This writer has no hope of convincing anyone not to use this format, but please be forewarned about the risks.
4. Titles that just sell, sell, sell.
We noted earlier that concealing a sales pitch under the aegis of an information blog posting is irritating. While it is more honest to make the sales purpose of the content explicit in the title, it is nonetheless annoying. Try to respect your readers’ time by offering something they can apply to daily life, rather than merely an advertisement.
5. Titles that are so driven by awkward keywords that they make no sense:
It is certainly the case that keywords are important, and that they help your readers find you on the World Wide Web. However, an awkward key-phrase is going to really mess up the title thoroughly. Yes, perhaps someone out there has searched, for example, on the word ‘homeworks’ – why, one has trouble imagining, but apparently someone has done so, and repeatedly enough for it to be detectable by the search engine algorithms.
However, trying to include this seldom (if ever) used form of the word in the title is going to guarantee a clunky result (this writer speaks from painful personal experience). The same is true of any odd-ball forms of any word or phrase.
If you feel that you must, absolutely must, use a word or phrase that sounds ridiculous, in the title, give yourself or your writer the freedom to work around this literary road block
It is critical to not be misled into thinking that blog titles are somehow exempt from the rules for writing that apply elsewhere. Be clear and have integrity in what you put in the title. If you respect your readers’ time in your title, you will garner their attention and, one hopes, their business.