Effective Blog Post Titles Force Readers to Figure it Out

blog post titles
As a blog content writer, I’m always fascinated by what makes certain word combinations used in advertising pack such tremendous marketing power, while others come across as mere “slogans”. Years ago, a presentation by humorist Dick Wolfsie provided a clue. In order for a joke to be funny, he said, the person listening to or reading the joke has to be forced to figure things out. The laughter, he explained, is the reward that listeners or readers give themselves for having understood the meaning of the punch line.

I was thinking about that concept the other day, realizing why some TV ads just seem to “fall flat”, while others stick in my mind for days. Xfinity’s “Simple. Easy. Awesome.”, for example, doesn’t tell me a thing about the company’s products or services, or even relate to their funny video. The title fails to make me think, giving me nothing to figure out. In contrast, USAA’s title “What you’re made of, we’re made for” compelled me to try and figure out the meaning of the message.

“Whenever you think of the brands you know or perhaps love, there are chances that you not only recall the brand name, but campaign slogans, too.” Anne Carton writes in designhill.com, “Slogans are the taglines or phrases that are used by a company to express the importance or the core idea of their products or services,” Carton continues. Effective slogans have the positive “X” factor that makes us look twice or even thrice, she adds.

As I often stress at Say It For You, blogs are not advertisements, and therefore blog titles are not slogans. Still, there are two basic reasons titles matter – a lot – in blogs:

  1. For search – 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.
  2. For reader engagement – after you’ve been “found”, you’ve still gotta “get read”.

The Dick Wolfsie insight comes into play here: Effective blog post titles not only relate to a reader’s search, but force the reader to figure out if and how!

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