Good, Better, and Great Titles to Use in Blogging for Business

Any writer or blogger will tell you that publishing your post is one thing.  Making sure it’s clicked and read – well that’s another, observes Emily Johnson in a post on Once you have an idea for a topic, there are good, great, and perfect ways to create a title for the post, she explains. Focusing on just two categories of blog post title – listicles and how-tos –  Johnson offers two powerful examples:

 Idea A: Writing a blog post
1.  Good Title:    Mistakes to Avoid While Writing a Blog Post
2.  Great Title:   15 Mistakes to Avoid While Writing a Blog Post (Listicles get read more often than other articles because they organize information and inform you up-front how many new things you will learn.)
3. Perfect Title:   15 Common Mistakes to Avoid While Writing Your First Blog Post
(The word “first” narrows down the scope of the article.)

Idea B: Changing tires
1.  Good Title:    How to Change a Tire
2.  Great Title:   How to Easily and Quickly Change a Tire
Perfect Title:  How to Easily and Quickly Change Your Tire Alone: 12 Steps
(This one implies an understanding of the reader’s fear of doing the task alone, and also
incorporates a listicle.)    

There’s a reason “how-to” blog post titles work, marketing gurus Guy Kawaski and Peg Fitzpatrick show in the Art of Social Media. The best “How-to”s, they explain, are neither too broad nor too limited. They have a “news-you-can-use” feel. The response you’re after from readers, I teach at Say It For You is, “Aha! “I have found the right place to get the information I need.”
In general, blog post titles have a multifaceted job to do: arousing readers’ curiosity while still assuring them they’ve come to the right place. Of course, no clever title can substitute for well-written, relevant content in the blog post itself, content that provides valuable information to your readers. But, in order for blog marketing to lead searchers to become buyers of your products and services, your stuff has first got to get read!



Question Titles in Blogging for Business

The tactic of question titles is one I’ve often suggested to new blog content writers in Say It For You training sessions. People are online searching for answers to questions they have and solutions for dilemmas they’re facing, and often we can help searchers who haven’t specifically formulated their questions by presenting a question in the blog post title itself. 

The question in the title serves to arouse readers’ curiosity about which side of the issue your opinion is going to represent, and about the answers you’re going to provide in the content of the post itself. And, of course, the title question can include keyword phrases to help Google index the blog.


“Or…you can ask a question,” writes Patrick Armitrage in, after naming several different ways to write blog post titles. So, what is it about a question that entices someone to click on a blog post and read further?   Questions create intrigue, Armitrage says, inviting readers to participate in a conversation. In fact, when people search online, they often type in How do I….” Why does…” or “When do…..”. questions. But not every question makes for a good title, Armitrage cautions. Open-ended questions (those that cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”) are better than closed-end. 


If the title isn’t right, they won’t read any further because you’re not giving the impression that your article will help them, explains Stefanie Flexman in “You have to provide crystal-clear value when you invite people to your digital home,” she adds, comparing three possible blog titles for a post on home gardening:


1.  “Does your lawn need fertilizer?” (Even if the reader was searching for advice on fertilizing lawns, this title is coring and adds little value)


2. “Are your weeds out of control?” (This does not demonstrate you’re a likable expert with something new to teach the reader. It is also too similar to what a competitor would write.)
3. “What’s the Secret to Keeping Your Weeds at Bay (Year After Year)? (This title holds a promise of valuable, usable information.)
Emily Johnson, writing in agrees. “Where, What, Why titles work because they promise you’ll learn something new. Johnson says, offering some simple models:
  •  “What will…..Look Like in the Future?”
  • Why do Successful People Plan their Lives 90 Days at a Time?
  • “What Can You Learn from…..? 
There’s no question – question titles are a good idea in blogging for business!

What Genre is Your Business Blog?

Is a blog a literary genre? Kevin Eagan poses that question in his own blog, critical margins, admitting he doesn’t have a definitive answer. Blog content writers, he muses, are a “relatively fixed point in this constant interaction with the ideas and facts of the exterior world.” (Wow! Love that description of the work we do here at Say It For You.)

Bloggers do on the screen what 18th Century essayists did in newspapers and magazines, Eagan reflects: They meander, they search, they seek out something. The historic form closest to blogs is the diary, Eagan goes on, but a diary is almost always a private matter, while a blog is instantly public. In an Atlantic Magazine article, blogger Andrew Sullivan described blogging this way:  You end up writing about yourself, but transforming a retrospective and personal piece into a public and immediate one. 
As a marketing blog content writing trainer, I realize that our art is related to the “genre” of advertising, but with a very big difference. Blogs are not the same as advertisements, billboards, or even brochures.  What freelance blog content writers do is help business owners communicate to readers a vision of themselves feeling safer, healthier, more comfortable, better looking, happier, or wealthier. Blogging helps establish a business owner or professional practitioner as an authority on a subject.

Some years ago, Damon Richards shared an interesting insight about an added benefit of blogging through a guest post on this Say It For You blog: “A useful added benefit is the ability to send messages to your existing customers that you’d rather not have to tell them directly. In a business blog post, the statement seems more generic, so my customers don’t feel singled out. They view things as universal problems, which makes them more willing to implement fixes.”
As a businessperson or practitioner, I teach, you have many different kinds of  stories to tell through your blog:
  • the benefits of your products and services
  • the history of your business and your own journey
  • successful case studies and testimonials
  • news of importance to your customers
  • your perspective on trends in your industry

As Kevin Eagen admits, “The blog article encompasses many things.  A blog post is about searching, about open-ended questions and lose ends.  It’s not a” tidy” genre like the 21st Century novel.”  So, no, blogs don’t fit neatly into one literary genre

Do “Huh-Oh” Titles Work for Marketing Blogs?


One important purpose of marketing blog titles is attracting online shoppers. So, catchy and engaging as a title might be, it won’t serve the purpose if the words in it don’t match up with those searchers used.

After all my “reading around” – magazines, books, blogs, textbooks – you name it, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are two basic title categories: the “Huh?s” and the “Ohs”. The “Huh?s” need subtitles to make clear what the article is about; “Oh!’s” titles are self-explanatory.

“Huh?-Oh!” combo titles seem to be increasingly popular, I concluded after a recent visit to my local Barnes & Noble the other day. Here are just a few of the dozens of Huh?-Oh! titles I found on the shelves in the sections on business, psychology, and self-help:

  • Seeing Around Corners (Huh?): How to Spot Inflection Points in Business Before They Happen (Oh!)
  • The Communication Clinic (Huh?) 99 Proven Cures for the Most Common Business Mistakes (Oh!)
  • Getting to Yes (Huh?) Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In (Oh!)
  • When (Huh?) The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing (Oh!)
  • The Storyteller’s Secret (Huh?) Why Some Ideas Catch On and Others Don’t (Oh!)

We blog content writers, of course, don’t have the luxury of using such long subtitles, as the search engines will use only a limited number of characters for ranking. Still, the beauty of the “Huh?” is that it’s a grabber, so the compromise might be to include category-based keyword phrases early in the subtitle.

The other way to “sneak” in the “Oh!” material is the meta-tag, the 160 character snippet of text that describes a page’s content. The meta tags don’t appear on the page itself, but readers can see them on the search engine page and they are scanned by search engines.

Huh? In writing engaging business blog content, it can pay to try two-tiered titles.


Words That Command Attention in Blog Post Titles


Are there certain words, words that are quite common, yet which command a reader’s attention? Leafing through the July issue of TIME magazine, I found the answer to that question is a definite “yes”. Mind you, none of these attention-commanding, curiosity-stimulating words (or set of words) offers the slightest hint of the topic of the article to follow. Instead, these attention-commanding words hint of the tone of the content to come.

  • Finding….
  • How…
  • Could…
  • A new….
  • Singing….
  • Things just….
  • The best…
  • The impossible…
  • The hidden…
  • Is it O.K if….
  • Don’t…
  • Who is….

What these attention-commanders do so subtly and skillfully is to set expectations. The title words “finding”, “the hidden”, the “impossible” might engender the expectation of discovery or of gaining a new insight. “Things just”, “could”, and “the impossible” hint at an opinion piece, even a rant. “The best, “how”, and “don’t” imply that valuable advice and cautions will follow. “How” hints that information about the way a certain process works is to follow, while “Is it O.K if” suggests readers might be asked to weigh in on an ethical dilemma of some sort.

Between Shakespeare’s Juliet asking “What’s in a name?” and father-of-advertising David Ogilby’s emphasis on headlines, there’s simply no contest when it comes to blogging for business – titles matter! There are two basic reasons titles matter so much in blogs, we emphasize at Say It For You. First, key words and phrases, especially when used in blog post titles, help search engines make the match between online searchers’ needs and what your business or professional practice has to offer.

But after you’ve been “found”, you’ve still gotta “get read”, and that’s where these attention-commanding words can be so useful. TIME editors obviously understood this point when it comes to magazine readers. Blog content writers should follow suit, creating titles that are relevant, but which also set the tone and arouse curiosity.