According to recent HubSpot research, the number one reason that people read blog posts is to learn something new.
Numbers are appealing—this is a standard tip, and there’s data that supports that including numbers in your title increases your traffic.
But adding any old number isn’t going to boost your organic traffic.
Once you’ve got your blog post idea, you should check the SERP for your keyword to see what’s ranking before settling on a title. This is good to make sure you’re matching search intent, and it’s also good for avoiding an embarrassing duplicate title, like the “ultimate guide” example above.
1. Avoid words that sound like spam
Blog post titles are hard. You need to communicate a lot of information and capture the attention—and the clicks—of your audience, and you only have so many characters to do it.
Are you busy? I’m busy. Sometimes I’m looking for an involved how-to post when I have the time to sit and learn how to get better at something; other times, I need a quick overview to get an answer fast so I can move on to the rest of my to-do list.
With over two billion blog posts published each year, it’s no wonder that common phrases go from recognizable to cliche quickly.
2. Check the SERP for numbers
So instead of leaning on these overused, ineffective words, find new ones that are great for marketing. Focus on using fresh, powerful words that align with your brand.
If your blog post solves this second need, a quick solution, make sure you’re advertising this in your title. You can include words like “quick” or “fast,” or you can get specific with a number of steps or minutes.
Bonus: This technique is awesome for targeting long-tail keywords, too.
Remember how we talked about avoiding cliche words and phrases to keep your titles engaging? That doesn’t mean you need to start from zero every time you’re brainstorming headlines.
You can use the same technique to describe your ideal audience in your blog posts—even if it’s not beginners.
3. Remember your keyword
And when you do, make sure to include that keyword in your title.
Instead, make sure your blog post titles clearly convey the value that they do provide—and then go from there to make them as appealing as possible.
Here are some great things to include in brackets in your relevant blog post titles:
4. Follow a “how to” formula
When you’re using a formula, you’re starting with some structure that you can add to, adjust, and make your own. (Read: You’re not plugging your keyword into a run-of-the-mill title and calling it a day.)
It might be tempting to overhaul your blog post titles based on these tips, but a new title doesn’t lead to meaningful traffic if it doesn’t actually provide the original data or expert advice or audience-specific information. Even worse, it can hurt your brand to oversell in a title.
It’s especially useful for making numbers in your title appealing.
In fact, according to an Orbit Media study, bloggers who spend time drafting and workshopping their titles see better results.
Here we go.
5. Add brackets
Now, it might seem like a lot of effort to devote to what’s often the first or last 60 characters of your content. But with the potential to boost CTR and organic traffic, your blog posts titles are worth the extra time.
Check the SERP so you can use numbers strategically in your blog post titles.
- [Step-by-Step Guide]
6. Use the first person
I’ve been seeing this used effectively more and more lately: brackets in blog post titles. And it works. Here’s an example.
Take “ultimate guide,” for instance. Interest in these has pretty much declined over the past few years, and it’s more than halved in the last decade. Why? Because we see ultimate guide so often in the SERP that the modifier becomes boring—and, if we’re being honest, lazy.
In fact, these blog posts are a great way to grow organic traffic. Semrush found that 72% of marketers report “how to” blog posts are their best traffic drivers. So next time you’re writing a post on strategy, use this framework and see if that works for your audience.
For example, when I was brainstorming a title for a recent blog post about CRM automations, I knew that, while the blog post would discuss CRM automations in general, the ideal audience would be startup owners or marketers. I ended up including this in the title to make it more appealing to that target audience: 7 Essential CRM Automations Every Startup Needs.
8. Stress speed
Your blog post title frames your content for your audience, lets them know what they can expect to read, and convinces them to click. That’s why it’s so important. So use these tips to spend more time brainstorming and drafting until you land on a blog post title that will appeal to your reader—and boost your traffic. Here’s a recap:
Using “how to” to frame your blog post works. Most of the time, we’re sharing education resources or explaining our own processes for our audience, like how to create DIY marketing videos or how to improve your Amazon SEO. (An alternate title for this post, for instance, could have easily been “How to Breathe New Life Into Your Blog Post Titles.)
Starting from zero every time is so hard. That’s why copywriting formulas are so useful.
Most of your blog posts should start with keyword research. An effective content strategy for most blogs involves growing traffic organically, which requires keyword-targeted blog posts. Sometimes great blog post ideas come out of discussions with your team or customer pain points. But even those ideas are better when you can align them with a keyword.
This last part is key.
Spend the time on your blog post titles—you won’t regret it
This is a simple reminder, but it’s important: Your primary keyword needs to be in your blog post title.
- Avoid words that sound like spam
- Check the SERP for numbers
- Remember your keyword
- Follow a “how to” formula
- Add brackets
- Use the first person
- Include your audience
- Stress speed
- Make the value clear