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March 7, 2013

What to Title Your Posts

One of the most important parts of a blog post is probably one that gets very little of our attention - the title. How much thought do you give to what you call your post? If all you are doing is titling it Review #560, then you are missing a great opportunity to catch readers and increase your visibility in searches.

What about my Tips on Thursday, Meet the Author, Writer Wednesday... those are pretty generic titles? Yes and no. Alone they are generic, but they are always paired with the featured author or what the tip is about. You may also have noticed the last few weeks, I'm moving away from those titles. Why? First, I used the titles Tips on Thursday, etc to help brand the theme of that day. I have been using the same schedule for a few months now and I think my readers know what to expect each day. So I don't need those monikers. You will notice I continue to use the graphic to continue my branding of those themes.

What should my titles be?

According to a marketing analysis I did with HubSpot's Market Grader, titles should be 75 characters long. And you thought Twitter was limiting! But it actually makes great sense. with 75 characters the full title should show up in the url and when your RSS feed shoots the post to Twitter and adds in hashtags and other info (your Twitter handle, the url, etc) it takes up all 140 characters.

Contain Keywords
For those using Blogger as their blogging platform, the title is your number 1 SEO opportunity. Use words in your titles that people will likely use to search for the topic you are writing on. For a book review, that would be the title of the book, author's name, and possibly review. There are a number of tools to help you determine popular keywords. The keywords you use in the title should also appear in your text, so it is a good idea to write your post first and then see what words you use most often.

Due to a Google update you DO NOT want to use "guest post, guest blogger, guest writer" etc. in your title. Google is basically forcing everyone who publishes on the internet to create a Google+ account (it has to do with Google Authorship/Author Rank, if you want to search for more information). Using the above terms or similar variations can negatively impact your ranking in search.

You want titles that catch the reader's eye. We are bombarded with information and after a while we don't really see new information anymore. Your title should be the hook that brings readers to your blog. While the book title may be popular for the search engine, it doesn't set you apart from 50 other bloggers who are reviewing the same title, which leads me to the final tip...

For those who already create unique titles for their posts, you know that it can be difficult to come up with one. And I hate to tell you this, but you really need 3 - 5 titles for each post.


Yes, you read that right. One title doesn't fit all - all your readers that is. When advertising your post on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. you need to have different titles that would reach different audiences. So while the official title of your post should be optimized for the search engines, your advertising titles should be tailored to the readers.

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  1. Excellent post. I've thought about this quite abit (more on that in a moment) and admit that several of my posts aren't as well titled as they ought to be.

    The reason I've thought about blog post titles is sometimes, you receive unexpected traffic. Maybe even traffic that bolsters your pride but is, in fact, all due to double entendre. Beware of what you use. I am okay, now, with what I suspect is some traffic of a tawdry sort because the catchy title expanded my little blog past its small universe. But it's an important rule of titling -- can it be misinterpreted?

    1. I think sometimes people do the double entendre on purpose. When it can be cute or catchy and maybe relevant then it works to even to get your target audience. I have to say I don't always see the double meaning until after the fact.

  2. This post is full of tons of great information. I am terrible at coming up with post titles so the thought of coming up with 3 - 5 different ones for different platforms...

  3. Great post! Titles can be difficult. It's hard to pack the whole punch in 75 characters!

  4. Donna is it possible to maybe give examples? For example you noted that you should have different titles to reach different audiences, can you pls provide examples to all the points you made above, just so I can have a better understanding on how to title my posts?

    Thanks heaps for the tips, I love this feature :D

    Angelica @ Paperback Princess

    1. For a review post, I might actually title the post Review: Book Title. But when I post it on Twitter later I might use a quote or genre (so I can use hashtags): A #sexy and sweet #romance from @authorhandle. Then on Facebook, I might pose a question: Need a great romance to read tonight? I recommend Book Title Author (I typically post a link to the review in the comments as Facebook statuses without links get more views).



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