Blog post titles are important. They’re important for two major reasons. The first reason is that this is what people are going to see when they make the decision to read or move on. This will happen when they come to your site, notice a post from you in an RSS feed or find one of your posts through a search engine. If you want these people to take the time to read what you’ve written, you need to have a compelling title. In order to make it compelling it needs to be very headline oriented. Think of a newspaper. One of the ways they get you to buy theirs instead of their competitor’s paper is through punchy, compelling headlines. The reasoning is that when they’re sitting next to each other at a newsstand, you’re more likely to buy the one that has the most intriguing headline.
The second reason that blog titles are important is that they’re going to factor significantly into your search engine optimization strategy. That means that ideally, you want your post title to be exactly what people are likely to enter as a search phrase to find pages on that blog post’s topic. The reason that the title is so important is that if you’re using anything like Wordpress, which many are, your blog post title is going to be used in a bunch of places. It’s going to be the title of the actual page, an H1 header on your post page and prominent backlink text elsewhere on your blog. All of these factors are going to be significant when it comes to optimizing your blog for search engines.
The problem is that writing for search engines tends to be dry and boring. The reason is that if you’re giving readers a title that they will likely search for, there are also very good odds that it’s basic in structure and very familiar. Those are not good qualities for an attractive title. Good titles are often unique and might carry multiple meanings or other literary devices to catch someone’s attention. So what is a blogger to do?
The best strategy in this case is to compromise. If you do it carefully, you can come up with some great titles. For example, check out Courtney Tuttle’s 5,263 Words On Starting A Profitable Blog. The end of the title definitely leans towards the search engine side of things, helping him rank for phrases like “profitable blog”, “starting a blog” and the obvious “starting a profitable blog”. At the same time, there’s intrigue and curiosity spurred on by the beginning of the title, 5,263 Words. It’s a very good example of doing something unique to catch a reader’s attention and make them want to read.
If you’re not sure you’re creative enough to come up with something as cleaver as the previous example, keep trying and at the very least alternate between titles targeted towards SEO and titles targeted to readers. If you keep a mix, readers will forgive you for not having a stellar title for every post. But keep trying to come up with good hybrids. At the end of the day, those are the ones that will pay of the most since you can reap the rewards of both strategies.