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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 locationrebel.com. 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!

 

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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 kapost.com, 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 copyblogger.com. “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 Locationrebel.com 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!
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Business Blogging May Not Take a Village, But it Does Take a Team

teamwork
Even after playing together for more than fifty years (I learned from Steve & Jack’s Home News), the Rolling Stones musicians still understand the value of practicing together, committing to two months of rehearsal before every tour. Why? Practicing together helps them reconnect with each other’s rhythm and understand each member’s distinctive roles.

Running a business blog takes commitment and teamwork as well. In fact, as we Say It For You blog content writers embark on our 13th year, one thing continues to become clear: Whenever things do not work out as planned, it almost always has to do with lack of coordination among the team members:

  • the blog writer
  • the webmaster
  • the business owner or practitioner
  • the staff of the client’s business or practice

As blog content writers, we are interpreters. Effective blog posts must go from information-dispensing to offering the business owner’s (or the professional’s, or the organizational executive’s) unique perspective on issues related to the search topic.

What that means is that owners and professional practitioners have got to be involved in the process of producing content, even after they’ve engaged our services; they can’t “go to sleep” and cede control of the creative process to us. The webmaster has to work together with the blog writer to provide the optimization and analysis that make the content “work”. The front-line employees who deal with the customers daily must be involved.

Hiring professional bloggers is not a “wake me up when it’s over” proposition – just as is true of the Rolling Stones, reconnecting with each other’s knowledge and rhythm is what makes the material come to life. Not only should there be periodic team meetings to discuss content, it is not a good idea for me and my team to take on writing assignments without insisting the business also invest in properly designed landing pages and website optimization. When blog writing is not coordinated with email and social media the results are simply not likely to be what the business owner expects.

Business blogging may not take a village, but it certainly does take a team!

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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.

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The Power of Similar Sounds in Blog Post Titles

The contributing authors in the Nature Conservancy Magazine must have collaborated to illustrate the power of similar sounds. As examples for blog content writers, I chose just four of the many titles in that issue:

Roots Rewind
This is an example of classic alliteration. Both words begin with the same consonant.

Keep Carbon
Although the two words begin with different letters, this is another example of alliteration, because the consonant sound is the same.

Orca Answers
Assonance refers to the repetition of vowel, rather than consonant sounds. These two words are not a precise match, but are similar enough to resonate with readers.

Grand Stand
These are rhyming words, where the initial letters are different, with the remaining sounds the same.

A couple of years ago at Say It For You, I began calling attention to the idea of using alliteration in business blog titles with an eye to making them more “catchy”. You see, it’s one thing to write great content, and quite another to get readers to click on it, and alliteration is just one of several creative writing techniques that can make your business correspondence – or your blog title – more engaging.

“It is important to note that alliteration is about the sounds of words, not letters; therefore, the letters “k” and “c” can be used alliteratively (as in the Keep Carbon title above) The letters “s” and “c” (as in sparkle and cycle) could also be used in alliteration. As ereadingworksheets.com explains, the words don’t need to be directly next to each other in the sentence or stanza to be considered alliterative, but a good guideline to follow is whether you can detect the repetition of sound when you read the line aloud. Meanwhile, “It beats as it sweeps as it cleans” (an advertisement for Hoover) is an example of vowel sound repetition in the form of assonance.

At Say It For You, where one of our core teachings is that blog posts are NOT ads, we know it’s important to keep a light touch in order to avoid overuse of similar-sound techniques such as rhyming, assonance and alliteration. The goal, after all, is to “season” the content without “over-salting” it.

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