Are you smarter than a goldfish? Or, how to write catchy blog titles

Posted on February 16th, 2016   |   Written by: Catherine   |  Post Categories: Writing

Have I grabbed your attention? Chances are if you’re like me, you skim over website content quickly and make your decision of what to read even more rapidly. For blog writers like myself, laboring over how to grab the attention of skimming readers can be a real puzzle. We all know this starts with a pithy title. And once our title catches you, we have a chance of keeping you here.     

Yet according to a recent story in USA today, a study conducted by Microsoft found that the average goldfish has a longer attention span than most Facebook users. After surveying more than 2,000 Canadians and monitoring the brain activity of 112 people, Microsoft came to the conclusion that today’s digital lifestyles have diminished our ability to focus for any length of time. In fact, after eight seconds, our mind begins to wander. Goldfish can concentrate for nine. Deep sigh. Are you still with me? Good, you are at least as smart as a goldfish.  

So, fellow bloggers, how do we capture the attention of our readers? Perhaps the only way to capture the attention of a reader is in the blog title. It’s the first thing readers see. And while it’s true Search Engine Optimization (SEO) helps search engines gather information from your site to store in their database so that that searchers will find you, the truth is, good titles entice readers to stay.

As a blog writer and former corporate fundraising manager, I’ve found blog writing and fundraising have some similarities.

Writing a great blog title actually works on the same principle as writing a corporate fundraising proposal.  When I worked as a corporate fundraising manager for a network of public broadcasting stations, I was under the initial impression people were just going to donate money because we were a great product in need of support. I was wrong. Gone were the days when philanthropists just handed over money because “it was the right thing to do.”

The truth was, to convince corporations to donate the kind of money we needed to keep the stations on air, I had to discover “what was in it for the corporations” and make that central to my request.

So, rule one for writing a great blog title and to garner audience attention is to tell them what’s in it for them.  And be specific. Let your reader know exactly what you plan to do for them.

Writer Shaira Rozen also suggests the following ten tips for writing catchy headlines:

  1. Use as few words as possible to convey your message
  2. Clearly convey what the article is about
  3. Use titles which claim to solve a problem
  4. Use off-the-wall titles – these appeal to readers
  5. Identify for the reader exactly what the key point of the blog is
  6. Give your title enough personality to entice the reader which still explaining what the article is about
  7. Stay true to your personal voice and brand which includes knowing your audience. If you are trying to reach a more formal business audience, speak to them in a more formal way.
  8. Avoid using clichés.
  9. Use the active voice in writing over a passive one.
  10. Talk about the benefits to the reader, not statistics or features.

In the near future, vlogs, or video blogs (which are popular on YouTube) and video podcasts will replace written blogs, though supporting text will always be needed. So your title will become even more important as an attention grabber! Be sure to make it work for you.

Do you have additional ideas for how to write effective blog titles?  Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you. 

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