If the thought of naming your excellent article with a mere seven words leaves you stumped, then this blog post is for you. Crafting article headlines that are short, enticing, yet an accurate reflection of what your finished articles are about, is challenging.
As a subscriber to the WPMU DEV newsletter, their witty headings have always been inspiring. There’s ‘Hope You Camp Make It’ regarding Wordcamp, and ‘Me, Myself & AI’ discussing AI trends.
Although these headings are eye-catching, article headlines have very clear parameters, and we will walk you through a few pointers below. It is our wish that you never again have to feel caught like a deer in headlines.
The Critical Importance of Blog Article Headlines
Spending hours writing high-quality content, only to devote a few seconds to a drab, meaningless title, can harm your blog without you even realizing it. In the long run, it can prevent a blog from achieving its maximum potential.
Let’s look at the purposes blog article headlines needs to fulfill:
It is an advert for your blog post
The title of your blog post is the first thing a reader sees. It makes a reader decide if your blog post is worth reading. When surrounded by a sea of similar articles on a search engine results page, you need an article headline that both draws attention and conveys the topic meticulously.
The American Psychological Association’s Publication Manual states that a title should be a succinct summary of the main subject and any research findings that have been made. Article titles crafted in this way give readers the opportunity to focus on content relevant to their search.
Titles are vital for SEO
The words in the title of your blog article post have more influence on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) than any other words in your post. If you’re looking to boost your SEO, focusing on your blog article headline is your biggest chance to rank for the specific keyword you have in mind.
The reason for this is that search engines consider blog article titles indicative of what your blog article content is about. Make sure your keyword is in your article headline, and ideally, as close to the beginning as possible.
Title structure affects content interpretation
The length, character amount and word count of your article headline all affect the SEO score and appearance of your blog post on search engine result pages. Fortunately, there are clear specifications and best practices regarding the structure of an excellent article title.
According to the Search Engine Journal and our favorite article writing aid, Capitalize My Title, the best length for a title tag is 60 to 65 characters and approximately 5-7 words. These guidelines help your article fall into the pixel parameters of most search engines, which is 600 pixels wide.
Keep in mind that a row of mmmm characters takes up more space than four iiii characters! For that reason, the guide is between 60 and 65 characters, depending on the type of characters.
To illustrate why your title structure is important, the below examples show why you should adhere to the 600 pixels recommendation.
These examples prove that a little attention to detail and adherence to best practices truly make a difference when delivering information to your audience. Follow these simple tips to ensure your article titles deliver their full intended message.
Since readers have endless options to choose from, a cut-off article heading increases the chances of an individual scrolling past your blog article post.
Titles can make your blog articles go viral
Yes, you read that correctly! Any expert writer knows that a well-thought-out blog article title can send readers into a frenzy.
Here’s the perfect example:
An article posted in 2017 was given a rather controversial title…
This article, “Why You Should Have Never Had Kids (If You Want To Be Happy, That Is)” immediately turned A LOT of heads. Individuals shared their thoughts wildly without even reading the article content to understand the rationalization of the eye-catching blog article title.
Fife years on and the comments were still streaming in.
This could make one wonder, if the article had a different, less debatable blog article title such as “Why You Should Not Have Children To Solve Internal Issues” whether it would’ve received the rapid and unexpected attention it did?
Attempting a potential viral article headline should always be approached with caution. Do not make false claims, do not be alarming, and if you provide content related to healthcare or finances, know that you attract more scrutiny from Google.
This has to do with Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) content where Google is more attentive in order to prevent unsound advice that could negatively affect a reader’s health or finances.
Blog article headlines describe the article type
This point refers to blog article types, such as listicles, case studies and how-to guides.
According to Ahrefs, readers are inclined to read a specific type of article based on their preference, intention, attention span or the amount of time they have to spend on reading a piece of writing.
A “How To” title will immediately let your reader know your article will share chronological steps to get to a specific end goal. For example, our previously published article “How To Pick the Best Proofreading Service.”
While a list article, often called a listicle, is mostly numbered and usually contains one tip, trick, or idea per paragraph like our article, “What Is a User-Friendly Website? 10 Dos and Don’ts.”
The intent of the reader must also be considered. For gathering information, a ‘What is’ article would be preferred, and to attract the attention of that reader, your title should indicate that it will provide them with the information they seek.
Blog article titles affect readers psychologically
Any effective headline must pique the reader’s interest first and foremost. According to “The Psychology of Curiosity: A Review and Reinterpretation,” by George Loewenstein, curiosity happens when there is a discrepancy between what we already know and what we desire to learn.
One could interpret that an impactful blog article title must then be psychologically formulated. This can be done by primarily figuring out what you believe your readers already know by evaluating who the audience is that your article is directed at. For example, if the audience you’re targeting is mainly marketing specialists or experts, an article with the title “How To Set Up Google Analytics” won’t pique their interest.
The second component we want to figure out is how to arouse curiosity. We must concentrate on the information that our readers are seeking. Addressing the worries, doubts, issues, and daily struggles of your audience is the key to every marketing or sales communication. In your blog article title, you also need to convey that information in a way that makes sense to them.
Reiterating the above example, we can safely assume that an eye-catching blog article title for the same target audience could be formulated as something like, “10 New GA4 Tools, Shortcuts and APIs for Experts” as this is something the marketing experts would find interesting.
When comparing the two blog article titles, it’s safe to assume that any individual who is a novice Google Analytics user won’t be reaching for the latter, but that they might start with a blog article that is directed at their level of expertise.
The Secret to Great Article Headings
We now reach the point of this article where there might be an answer to the question that has gradually been building up…
Is there a secret or formula to writing a great blog article headline?
Well, to say there is a formula that guarantees blog article clicks would be false advertising. However, we can offer a formula based on the evaluation of the above research and advice by several experts.
Here is our blog article title formulation for probable success:
1. Article Structure + 2. Advertise with (3) your SEO Keyword + 4. Enticing Word Use + 5. Pique Curiosity
Now, let’s put this recipe to the test with our own heading.
In a previous iteration of this blog post, it was titled “Deer in the Headlines: The Best Alternate Heading for This Article Would Be…” as it was part of a social media campaign.
So, let’s improve it and use our formula.
- This article has 6 pieces of elaborated advice.
- This article is about crafting effective headlines for blog posts. Advertising this blog post would mean adding a ‘how to’ as it shows the purpose of the article.
- Our SEO keyword is “article headlines” and a related keyword is “article headings.”
- The enticer or attention grabber does not always have to be incorporated. Especially if you have limited space, but even the word ‘top’ or ‘best‘ preceding the word ‘tips’ could be an effective way to grab attention.
- To pique interest, we could reassure our readers that the advice in this article is from a reliable source – by experts – or a professional, more knowledgeable than themselves.
Note: The above elements can vary in their positioning within your title according to correct grammatical use and sentence structure.
Our carefully formulated blog article title could therefore look like this:
6 Top Tips for Creating Article Headlines According to WebCare
At 602px and 62 characters it fits within the parameters, but is not really striking. Let’s play around with a few more alternate headlines:
Great Article Headlines: 6 Tips from Experts
At 424px and 44 characters it is short and sweet, but we are losing out on an opportunity for something more enticing.
How to Write Perfect Article Headlines + Secret Formula
At 537px and 56 characters, this one is my favorite. Its intention is clear, plus the value-add is mentioned.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below we share a few short answers to regular FAQs we’ve come across.
Conclusion: How to Write Perfect Article Headlines
It can be tricky to evaluate your blog article title based on personal opinion alone and even more so to decide how it will affect your readers. Fortunately, there are many online tools to assist in evaluating your blog article title.
One of the tools I personally love to use is the headline analyzer tool on IsItWP. This tool analyzes every aspect from word balance and word count to “emotional words” and the overall article title sentiment.
I used this tool to evaluate the above ideas. According to their scoring system, the best heading for this article would be…
How to Write Perfect Article Headlines + Secret Formula
Scoring a healthy 75.
Writing a successful title doesn’t always come with the first try as you have seen. It can take a few attempts before you really find the wording that makes your blog article title pop! In addition, finding blog article titles that attract your niche audience also takes a little trial and error before finding an angle that really pulls your readers in, so don’t lose hope.
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