What’s the value of a great title? Ever stopped to wonder how a title—whether on a book jacket or an album cover or a blog article—influences the viewer? In regard to literature alone, could you imagine A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess being called anything else? How about The Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck? Sure, both are classics of literature, but they also have very compelling titles. In the publishing industry, they say books like these have “great pick-up value.”
Titles serve a number of purposes. Titles can be written to identify a piece of writing or place it in context, but in the publishing and web marketing industry, they perform no greater service than when they are used to catch the eye of the causal browser and compel them to take a deeper look at the content. The album Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen has a title that most music aficionados would say is absolutely perfect. The album is a crystal-clear musical testament to the many trials and tribulations experienced by those determined to run wild with their youthful dreams—even in the face of so many grim realities found on the road to Anywhere Else. The title sums it up nicely. Born to Run has sold over 6,000,000 copies to date.
Although we could easily discuss music for quite some time, let’s switch gears back to content titles and web marketing.
The title of your next blog article, white paper, or press release may not be as compelling as the title of a sextuple-platinum Springsteen album, but there is an absolute need for you to stop and think about the value of the title and how it may affect the “pick-up value” of your article. Why? Because everybody wants their content to go viral and get social media shares, links, and mentions on other sites and blogs. But those pieces of content that don’t have compelling titles aren’t likely to be clicked and read, because the public has a limited attention span.
So, what makes a “clickable title” for a piece of content? Good question. A good title, one that’s clickable, should generate interest for the reader without being misleading. So, if you’re a dental practice writing an article about how to select a great toothbrush, you could write any of the following:
- Good Toothbrushes 101
- How to Select a Toothbrush
- The 5 Types of Toothbrushes You Should NEVER Buy!
As you can see, the first two article titles are pretty dull. If the article is all about how to choose a good toothbrush, they’re certainly descriptive enough, but they leave a lot to be desired and will likely be ignored by readers. The third, however, generates a lot of interest because it forces the reader to question themselves. Am I buying the wrong type of toothbrush? What should I know? In addition, the third toothbrush article title appears urgent and emotional. This creates curiosity and an expectation that the reader will be provided with a great personal benefit somehow.
Another way to generate interest in your articles with compelling titles is to assume that the article answers some long-held question on the topic at hand. The title can then attract the interest of those who have pondered this burning question. Example:
- What Do You Really Know About the Toothbrush You’re Using on Your Teeth?
That title creates an internal dialogue and self-awareness. What’s wrong with my toothbrush? What don’t I know? This, in turn, creates highly-engaged readers. And, if the content of the article is informative and compelling (as the title promises), the article may get shared around via email, social media channels, and word-of-mouth.
So, think about the titles you craft for your articles. At very least, draft 3-5 for each article you write and choose the one that you feel is most compelling. If your page views and shares start to increase, you’ll know you did a good job. The title of this blog article, by the way, was written solely to generate interest. And if you’ve read this far, it worked.
This article is brought to you by Rank Fuse Interactive, which serves both businesses and agencies alike as a provider of search engine marketing (SEM) programs, including search engine optimization (SEO), paid search advertising (PPC), social media marketing, content marketing, mobile web marketing, and search-friendly web design.