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:
- 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.
- 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:
- ask obvious questions that address questions to which most people already know the answer
- 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!