A Business Blog By Any Other Name

Shakespeare’s Juliet asked “What’s in a name?”, and the playwright supplied an answer -“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” But would it? Do names matter?

Each year, the Social Security Administration publishes a list of the most popular baby names. Ten years ago, for example, parents were naming their boys Aiden, Jayden, and Ethan. (As of last year, the favorites were Liam, Noah, and William.) A decade ago, girls were being called Emma, Olivia, Ava, and Isabelle (Today the favorites still include Emma.)

One objective in business blogging is winning search, so what you “name” your post, in terms of both its title and the meta description (the 160-character snippets that appear on the search engine page), can matter a lot. lists different approaches content writers can take in “naming” their posts, including:

Start to finish guide….
Advanced guide to….
An in-depth guide to….

Where, What, Why
Here’s why….
What you can learn from…

The simple…
A simple strategy for….
…ing made simple…

At Say It for You, I often speak about “Huh?” and “Oh!” names for blog posts. The “Huh?s” need subtitles to make clear what the post is about. “Oh!s” titles are self-explanatory. The “Huh?s” are there to startle and arouse curiosity. The subtitle than clarifies what the focus of the piece will actually be. Ideally, the name of the product or service is inserted into the “Oh!” part of the title.

A blog post by any other name might “read as sweet”, but the function of the title is to get them reading in the first place!


Surprise-Laden Blog Post Titles

two part blog post titles


Blog post titles have a multifaceted job to do, arousing readers’ curiosity while still assuring them they’ve come to the right place. One compromise I’ve suggested to blog content writers is using a two-tiered title, combining a “Huh?” (to get attention) with an “Oh!” (to make clear what the post is actually going to be about).

The latest business book covers use this “compromise solution” all the time. Here are some samples of recently published titles (The main or “Huh?) title is shown in bold, with the “Oh!” subtitle below it):

When to Jump
If the Job you have isn’t the Job You Want

Do  Nothing
Discover the Power of Hands-Off Leadership

The Persuasion Code
How Neuromarketing Can Help You Persuade Anyone, Anywhere, Any Time

The Scientific Secret of Perfect Timing

How Non-conformists Move the World

The Culture Code
The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups

The Energy Bus
10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy

In This Together
How Successful Women Support Each Other in Work and Life

Unlike book publishers, we business blog content writers simply don’t have the option of using “mysterious” titles, since search engines will be will be matching the phrases used in our titles with the terms typed into readers’ search bars. So, just how can we get those keyword phrases in while still being enticingly enigmatic?

One possible way is including the “Oh!” part of our title in the meta tag description (the blurb of information that shows up beneath your clickable website address on search engine results pages).

Worth a try, anyway, with the idea being to pique readers’ curiosity and maintain the surprise, but meanwhile, giving the search engines the “advance scoop”.


Two-Tiered Business Blog Titles

What’s “Into the Endgame” about? (How Parliament should weigh up the Brexit deal, of course.)
What about “Click to Download Teacher”? (Technology can help solve the problem of bad, absent teachers in poor-country schools.) “The New Abnormal”? (California faces the most destructive fire in its history). And “Drop It!”? (An argument about firearms will help to shape next year’s election.)

These and other two-tiered titles from this month’s issue of The Economist magazine can serve as a master tutorial for blog content writers. There are two types of titles, I’ve taught in workshops on business blog content writing. The “Huh?s” need sub-titles to make clear what the article is about, while the “Oh!’s” are self-explanatory. With one important purpose of marketing blogs being to  attract online shoppers, blog post titles are a crucial element in the process. That means that catchy and engaging as a title might be, it won’t serve the purpose if the words in the title don’t match up with the ones searchers used.

That’s the reason two-tiered titles use two layers. The first-tier “Huh?” startles and arouses curiosity.  The “Oh!” sub-title then serves to clarify what the focus of the content will be.  (No, this is not a bait-and-switch play, but more like a bait-and-focus one)

Which brings me to meta-tags, which are 160 character snippets of text that describe a page’s content; the meta tags don’t appear on the page itself, as explains, but readers can see them on the search engine page. In addition to being scanned by search engines, those little content descriptors help readers decide whether they want to click to read the content. The snippet serves as a preview of the “Oh!” portion of your blog post title.

For example, underneath the actual link, a searcher would see this snippet: “6 days ago – Britain and the European Union Into the Brexit endgame. How Parliament should weigh up the Brexit deal. Print edition | Leaders. Nov 15th”.

“The New Abnormal” – Huh? “Oh!” It’s about the California fire. In writing engaging business blog content, try using two-tiered titles.


Business Blog Title Question Words

Ideas and Discoveries Magazine had a very good idea in terms of titles (which we blog content writers can make good use of) – using question words.

The tactic of question titles is one I’ve often suggested to new Indianapolis blog content writers. Keeping in mind that people are online searching for answers to questions they have and solutions for dilemmas they’re facing, sometimes we can help searchers who searchers haven’t specifically formulated a question by presenting a question in the blog post title itself.

The question 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.

ID Magazine, I found, used question titles that clearly indicated what kinds of information would be “served up” in the article to come:

  • Why Wolves Hunt Differently From Big Cats
  • What happens When an Avalanche Stops Moving?
  • How Reliable is the Rorschach Test?

But the majority of the ID titles, I found, contained an extra, curiosity-stimulating, element into their question word titles. You simply need to read the article to find out what the “clue” means:

  • How a Feeling of Empathy Led to 60 Million Deaths
  • How Seven Dollars Set the Middle East Aflame
  • How 156 Nails Defeated Napoleon
  • How a Lab Accident Decided the Second World War
  • How a Meteorite Made Christianity a Worldwide Religious Power
  • How a Sandwich Triggered World War
  • How a Refugee Made George W. Bush President

Curiosity is hard to get right, Amy Harrison points out in You have to deliver on the promise. Don’t’ assume readers’ will cause them to power on through your copy looking for the answer that was promised to them, she says. Your blog post must include compelling benefits, rich imagery, and strong storytelling if you are to keep readers’ attention and encourage them to take action.

ID also demonstrates another useful strategy blog content writers can use: covering one topic, but coming at it in different ways. On the topic of wolves, for example:

  1. “How Wolves Shape Our Forests” offers insights on how reintroducing wolves into German forests impacts ecosystems.
  2. “Who’s the Boss Here?” explores the “family dynamics” of a wolf pack.
  3. “How Do You Save a National Park?” chronicles the Yellowstone Wolf Study, in which reintroducing wolves into the environment reduced the deer population in turn allowing more trees to grow, which in turn attracted birds, beavers, and fish.

Just as these articles each explore a different aspect of a single subject, the blog for any company, professional practice, or organization can be planned around key themes.  Then, in each post, the blog content writer can fill in new details, examples, and illustrations.


The Title Can Be the Tease in Blogging for Business

There are two types of titles, I realized, browsing the business section at my favorite local bookstore:

1. The “Huh?s” need subtitles to make clear what the article is about.
2. The “Oh!’” titles are self-explanatory.

Whether in a book or a blog post, the title serves as a “tease” to get a browser to become a reader. Since an important purpose of business blogging is attracting online shoppers, blog post titles are a crucial element in the process. Titles have to be catchy and engaging, but they won’t serve the purpose if the words don’t match up with the reason the searcher landed there in the first place. The combo title hits both bases.

For example, at first glance, Measure what Matters, by John Doerr could be about marketing, weight loss, or parental advice on children’s growth rates. That’s a “teaser”.  I needed the subtitle to clarify: How Google, Bono, and the Google Foundation Rock the World with ODRs.

Other “Huh?”/”Oh!” combo titles included:

  • Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win
  • Originals: How Non-conformists Move the World
  • Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead
  • The Human Advantage: The Future of American Work in an Age of Smart Machines

Sleeping Giant: The Untapped Economic and Political Power of America’s New Working Class

Why do titles matter even more in blogs than on book covers? There are two basic reasons:

  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 still need to “get read”.

The question title, based on the idea of asking readers if they’re grappling with an issue or a need (one you not only know about, but which you’re accustomed to helping solve) can be perfect for the headline of a business blog post. But, there’s a right and wrong way to use question headlines, Amy Foote points out in “The Dos and Don’ts of Question Headlines”. Don’t:

  1. ask obvious questions that address questions to which most people already know the answer
  2. use question headlines as a fear tactic

In well-constructed blog posts, I teach at Say It For You, the title should be a tease!