Browsing through the August issue of Indianapolis Monthly, I noticed something interesting about the titles of many of the articles. It was literally impossible to tell from each title what the topic of the forthcoming article would be, yet my curiosity was aroused to the point that I wanted to find out.
Applied Knowledge, for example, offered advice about filling out effective college applications. Upon Further Review turned out to be about IU football and baseball team strategy. Belly Aching headed a humorous piece on physical illnesses, real and imagined, while Fully Loaded was about luxury boutique hotels. High and Mighty was the title of a piece on penthouse-style luxury furnishings, and Out-of-the-Gate, of all things, was about how Mayor Hudnut brought the Colts team to Indianapolis.
So, should blog post titles be designed to pique readers’ interest with the same sense of “mystery”? That’s a maybe. In blog marketing, the title itself constitutes a set of implied promises: If you click on this title, it will lead you to information about the topic you punched into the search bar, to an explanation of how to obtain something desirable or to avoid or reduce an undesirable effect. The title and the content, therefore, need to be congruent.
On the other hand, there are two, not just one, reasons titles matter so much in blogs, I teach at Say It For You. The key words and phrases in the title help search engines make the match between online searchers’ needs and what your business or practice has to offer. That’s not enough, though, because, after you’ve been “found”, you still have to “get read”, which means readers need to be engaged and their interest piqued.
The compromise solution might be titles that are two-tiered, combining curiosity-arousing Indianapolis Monthly-style titles with subtitles that make clear exactly what the blog post is about. Might that come across as a “bait-and switch” (an absolute no-no in content marketing)? No, I think it’s more like a bait-and-focus blog title technique.