Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Art and Science of Writing Good Titles

Crafting a good title for your pages or blog posts is a problem many people struggle with. Do you focus on keywords or on attention grabbing formulas? Hopefully this post will give you some insight into how to write better titles. The difficulty with crafting good titles is that it’s part science and part art, and you have to know when to lean in one direction or the other. To illustrate my point, I’m going to take the same concept and show you variations you would use for different purposes.

All three of these are similar but distinctly different posts. They will have different content and editorial styles …Are you creating a page to drive sales, capture leads, or make conversions? If you are, you want to focus strictly on keywords and give little if any concern to being sensational or even slightly creative. An example would be:

Disney World Discount Hotel Rooms

Are you going for a social link baiting type of piece? If you are, then you want a title that is a bit sensational and kicks your readers in the teeth. Try something  like:

Secrets Disney Doesn’t Want You to Know About: Saving Money on Hotel Rooms

Are you trying to catch users who are in the research phase of their process but haven’t entered the sales funnel yet? If you are, you want a title that answers a question, solves a problem, or lets users know they are on the information scent. An example of this would be:

How to Book a Cheap Disney Hotel Room

The question that many people now ask is which of those three versions do they want? The answer is all three. Some people try to save some money on content creation and combine all three into one article, but this is recipe for disaster. All three of these are similar but distinctly different posts. They will have different content and editorial styles and should be different posts (see writing narrowly focused posts). Once you have all three created, tie them together with interlinking or with head and tail concept. The last mistake people make is using misleading titles. I’ve seen a lot of people use sensational style titles to try and gain links but then put conversion based content on the page. This is a formula for getting a lot of pissed off users looking for social content who won’t buy a thing (see when you’re title is linkbait but your post isn’t)

So what are the takeaways from this post:

Determine what the intent of the page is: conversions, links, or information?Choose the title based on the intent of the pageMake sure the content matches the title and purpose of the pageBe mindful of singular and plural termsDon’t ignore opportunities to optimize your post slugs

Creative Commons License photo credit: fdecomite

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