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10 Tried and True Title Strategies that Win

October 25th, 2012

by Chad Pollitt

With content marketing becoming increasingly popular among agencies and internal marketing departments, the skill of creating appealing headlines and desirable copy is in demand. A blog post could be expertly written with earth-moving, problem-solving content, but if the title fails to communicate a value proposition or urgency, the writing will be obfuscated to the world. Look to the below 10 strategies for writing successful blog titles and watch the web traffic rise.

Blog Title Strategies

1. News Jacking – This is a marketer’s attempt to ride the wave of the news cycle in order to get their message seen. The recent political debates represent an opportunity for marketers to news jack. The “ Horses and Bayonets” comment is a good example.

2. Popular Culture – Using popular culture in metaphorical and analogous ways can be a powerful tool to relate industry commentary or problem solving content to new groups of people. Some examples include: “What Hip-Hop Can Teach Us about Inbound Marketing” and “Top 10 Quotes – If Glengarry Glen Ross Were about Internet Marketing.”

3. Humor, Absurdity – This approach is a personal favorite. People only go to the web for two reasons: to solve a problem or to be entertained. Never underestimate the power of entertainment. “Woman Updates Facebook Status while Giving Birth!” is an example of an absurd blog post title that works. “Smells Like Inbound Marketing – Tastes Like Chicken” is a blog post title that uses humor to entertain and conveys industry prudence.

4. Bold Statement, Declaration, Controversy, Logical Fallacy – This category of title is best demonstrated by the ever-popular “The Death of” blog post. An example of a bold title would include “The Case for a Four-Day Work Week.” These titles tend to be very attention grabbing and can garner a lot of click-throughs.

5. Ego Stroke – People like to be recognized for excellence. Whether it’s a list of awesome blogs, people on Twitter or thought leaders in an industry, ego stroking titles lend themselves to being evangelized by the people receiving the ego stroke. Some examples of titles include “Top 10 ‘Hidden Gem’ Internet Marketing Blogs You May Not Be Reading” and “25 Tweeple to Follow who Will Make You a Better Inbound Marketer.”

Tip: Never focus on A-listers with ego stroke posts. Blogosphere celebrities don’t tend to evangelize these posts like others.

6. Breaking News – This type of title is not the same as news jacking. Generally, a breaking news title should be industry-specific and announce something new. A marketing example might include catching a tweet from Google’s Matt Cutts announcing some new algorithm update. A breaking news title would encapsulate the breaking news element of the post. An example would be “New Google Algorithm Update Just Announced – The EMD.”

7. How-To – Not a lot of examples are necessary to communicate the nature of the how-to title. This title is exactly what it says, “How to do XYZ,” and is focused on solving problems.

8. Top X List – These titles are generally called top 10 lists, but don’t always have to be framed that way. Example titles could include 5 Ways, 8 Features, 6 Tools, 9 Tips etc. Many consumers of online content are attracted to the apparent convenience of skimming a quick list.

Tip: Always try to use the actual number in the post title, as opposed to spelling it out. This saves valuable space in the search engine link and grabs visual attention.

9. [Bracket] Title – These types of titles are popular to Tweet. Generally, the title is followed by a phrase in brackets that highlights the value proposition of the post. Some popular bracket title examples include [Video], [Data], [Webinar], [Slides] etc. at the end of the actual title.

10. Thought Leadership – Titles in this category don’t necessarily solve a problem or entertain. Titles that convey thought leadership can communicate broad industry opinion on current trends. They can also provide a general commentary on the future of an industry, strategy or tactic. This type of content, if well-articulated and supported with facts, can position the author as an industry expert. Some examples include, “Agency Branding in 2012 & Beyond – Inbound Marketing or Something Else?” and “Tomorrow’s Casualties – Internet Marketing’s Kill-Zone is Expanding.”

Content marketing is a game of quality, frequency and consistency. If none of those requirements are met, the best blog post titles in the world won’t drive enough traffic and leads to sustain a company’s sales pipeline. With the aforementioned three publishing requirements met, the above blog title strategies will help drive more click-throughs, visits, conversions, and ultimately, more customers.

Chad Pollitt

Director of Marketing at Slingshot SEO, Chad is a decorated veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, a former Army National Guard Commander and the Director Marketing at Slingshot SEO. He authored “The Content Marketing Manifesto” in 2012. His other writings and articles have been published in dozens of newspapers, magazines and websites throughout the world.

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