The title of your blog post is the first thing a user sees when they visit your site. On social media sites, sometimes it is all they see. With Google search results, they get a fragment of your intro, but largely judge based on the title. Even on your blog, most of the actual article is hidden behind a click. You can have the best, most compelling content ever written by a human hand, but if you hide it behind an awful title, you may as well be sealing it away in a vault where no one will find it. Here are ten examples of terrible blog titles to avoid.
What’s wrong: This particular title suffers from a lack of specifics. If you take a handful of minutes to check a few Google searches, you’ll find that numbered lists are incredibly popular. 10 ways to comb your hair, 14 secrets to a better smile, 11 dogs that ruled the world; the number is important. It doesn’t matter how many you list, you just need to specify the number. A better title in this instance might be 12 Ways to Optimize Your Blog for Facebook. The lesson to be learned: be specific.
What’s wrong: Where is the attraction? Where is the user interest? If the tips you’re providing are the most common, why should anyone bother to read the article? The general topic, social exposure, is good enough. It’s a broad topic with plenty of possible tips, from a basic level to the most advanced SEO tricks. Again, this title suffers from lack of specifics as well. Social exposure is a big field, encompassing everything from Facebook to Pinterest to a web forum. Try a title like “Beginner’s Tips for Gaining Social Exposure” or “11 Tricks of Social Exposure on Instagram.” Even basic tips work, if they’re addressed to novices.
What’s wrong: Way too long. A title should be no more than eight or ten words, or under 100 characters. The problem with a long title is that most fields that display a title have a limit to the characters it will display. Even some short, reasonable titles are truncated by search results or social shares. A title of this incredible length is sure to be cut off. Occasionally, a long title can add impact, with a secondary subtitle or parenthetical addition. Even in those cases, the primary title is short. The rest can be cut off without incident. Don’t forget your site layout, too. A title this long in H1 tags may wrap to three or four lines and take up half of the page. Your content is pushed out by a long and useless title. Try pruning it down to the more functional “15 Things I Wish I Knew about Internet Marketing.”
What’s wrong: What’s this blog post actually about? Vague titles aren’t attractive in any way to the casual viewer. You might attract a couple of regular readers who already know your writing style and know that a vague title might hold worthwhile content. It won’t do you any favors for attracting new traffic or bringing in new customers. What’s the post even about? No one has any way of knowing. A blog title this vague can’t be helped; your only choice is to discard it entirely and start from scratch.
What’s wrong: Sensing a pattern yet? This blog title is fairly specific, but it lacks the oomph of a successful title. The problem is that it’s simply too dry and technical. It promises a blog post full of boring statistics, long-winded paragraphs and six-syllable words. The average reader isn’t attracted to that kind of content. In fact, the average reader is more likely to skim your subheadings and read a few sentences in the paragraphs that interest them. To fix a title like this, you need to bring in some influence from your conclusions. Consider the experiments you ran or the case study you performed to gather the data you’re presenting. Of course, if your content is as dry as the title suggests, you may want to work on that as well.
What’s wrong: So what? Google updates their algorithm every day. If you’re trying to inform your audience about a specific change, you should at the very least date your title. If possible, include what updated, be it the Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird or assorted other segment of their system. As it stands, this title fails to be specific. It also fails to be timely. Glancing at this title, a user has no way of knowing if the post is from 2014 or 2001. “Google Updates Algorithm” is part of a valid title, however. Carry it forward. “Google Updates Algorithm: Content Mills Smashed” could be more compelling, whichever angle you choose to cover.
What’s wrong: Where to begin? You have two ways of interpreting this title; with or without the censorship. Plenty of bloggers have no qualms about swearing, knowing that it doesn’t directly penalize your SEO ranking. Vulgarity, particularly in the title, does you no favors. Presumably, you’d only use it when your blog is a lowbrow affair, catering to the salt of the Internet. Another issue with this title is the series of exclamation marks. Rarely does your title call for punctuation, and if it does, a single exclamation mark will suffice. Tossing in a second or a third just makes your blog look childish and immature. Some blogs can get away with vulgarity; professional SEO blogs typically cannot.
What’s wrong: Another example of the specifics remaining absent. In this case, the topic is simply too broad. Software is a 30+ year industry; to pick the greatest software of all time is to jump into a list of hundreds. Where do you begin? The original operating systems for the first computers? The first office apps that enabled business computing? The first games that led to a multi-billion-dollar industry? A list of the best software in a given category is a perfectly acceptable article. A list of the best software, overall, through all time? Much harder to pull off in an enticing way. On the other hand, at least the subject has the potential to be controversial enough to stimulate plenty of discussion.
What’s wrong: The primary issue with this title is the capitalization. Much like the vulgar title above, proper title case for your post is essential to portray a professional atmosphere. This title could also benefit from the numerical treatment. Write the article, and then edit the title to include the number of tips you offer. It’s a trivially simple way to increase interest.
What’s wrong: Trick question! Nothing is inherently wrong with this title. The only problem is one of time. Your title, freshly published on your blog, is a timely and interesting piece of content. A few months or a few years down the road, however, you need to find some way to assure your readers that your information is still up to the minute. You can do this by editing the title to include [Updated on this date], by including a notice at the head of the article or by republishing the post when you update it, using redirects and links to push traffic to the right version. The title is fine; managing the content and upholding the promise made by the title is the problem.