How to Write for the Web Part 2: The Power of the Title
Last time, we covered how to plan relevant and unique content by doing your keyword and competition research. In Part 2 of our How to Write for the Web series, we'll start putting pen to paper. And where better to start than with the single most important element of your entire content: the title.
With a deluge of content out there in the vast ether of the Internet, your title is pretty much the only thing you have in order to attract attention to your content. Think about how often your title is seen in comparison to the rest of your content. Potential users will see your title:
- On social media news feed
- In their RSS reader
- In their email inbox
- On the thousands of content curation websites like Reddit1
- On Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS)
- In online newspaper features like Paper.li2
- On your blogroll
Whereas, user’s will typically only see your actual content:
With so many opportunities to attract visitors through crafting a compelling title, it’s not too difficult to see how title writing has become an art form in its own right.
To get you started on becoming a title writing artist yourself, here's a run down of some of the techniques you can use to create titles that people can’t resist clicking:
Be punchy: A decision on whether to read your article will be made after reading the first few words of your title. So get straight to the point early:
Example: Facebook Collapses Overnight
Use urgency: You can even combine being punchy with a sense of urgency to create something that just begs to be clicked:
Example: Facebook Collapses Overnight: Were You Affected?
Create wonder: If you leave the reader hanging in the title, you can create a sense of wonder that can intrigue users:
Example: Be More Productive With This Simple Tip
Lists: People love lists. It’s as simple as that. A list shows the reader that your content is easy to scan, quick to read and there’s more than one point to it:
Example: 6 Reasons Why Web Design Beats Artworking
Lists that solve problems work well:
Example: 4 Ways to Master LinkedIn
Lists that solve problems and show a direct benefit work even better:
Example: 4 Ways to Master LinkedIn and Get Hired
Bonus: Don’t overdo it with lists. 50 Ways to Create a Cool Facebook Profile Image sounds like a long and arduous task to read. We tend to not go into double digits with lists.
Double positives: You can include two solutions or two benefits together to create an irresistible temptation:
Example: How to Double Your Server Speed and Reduce Site Down Time
Controversy: Everybody loves a bit of controversy. By being controversial, you not only attract both the people who agree and disagree with your point, but you might stimulate debate on your website, creating further engagement and a conversation with potential customers.
Example: Why Social Media Marketing Is Dead
Controversy combined with a list is so engaging, it’s almost unfair:
Example: 5 Reasons Why Social Media Marketing Is Dead
Controversy combined with a list and a double positive and creating wonder should be illegal!
Example: 5 Reasons Why Social Media Marketing Is Dead and What’s Next
Write Your Title First
Write your title straight after doing your keyword and competition research. Write it before writing anything else. Do this and you’ll have something specific to work toward. It will keep you on track and focused throughout the creation process and provide guidance that’ll keep you on point throughout, creating precise and unwavering content and add real value to the reader.
So, play around with some of the above techniques to create your article’s anchor and practice creating titles that are gripping and action inspiring. If you have some other interesting tips, share it with us in the comments below.
Part 3: User-centric Style
In Part 3, we’ll look at how to write, structure and design content that meets user needs and stands the best chance of meeting your content marketing goals.