I’ll be honest with you. This post is not about how to cut shapes into your bananas while hanging out with your imaginary friends. Although the image above might have you excited to learn.
We’re all about visual storytelling, so one of the benefits of working at BuzzFarmers is that we have illustrators. That means we have a collection of illustrations we can use with our blog posts rather than hunting down stock photos, although sometimes we use those too. We don’t use free images though, and here’s why.
This week, all of us Managing Editors were challenged to take an illustration, and let it guide the theme of a blog post, rather than the other way around. Amanda chose the one above for me.
In a literal sense, what is even going on here? I see a five-legged cephalopod cutting images of a cat and a heart into a banana peel as a kid watches in approval. The night’s dinner, likely some form of ink-based soup, spilled out over the floor.
I bet you didn’t think this would be a post about blog post titles from the graphic. But so far you’re on paragraph five, so it’s working.
Sometimes, the blog posts we write and the images we use will align. Sometimes they’ll provoke a deeper thought. For example, a post about achieving your management goals might be headed by a guy climbing a mountain. Are you going to climb Mount Everest in order to become a better manager? No. Does it make sense conceptually? Sure.
And should they align? Probably. Can I find a way to take an image and turn it into a blog post? I’m doing it right now.
When it comes to alignment, the only true rule is that blog titles align with the content in the article. Images will draw you in, no matter what you choose. They don’t have to be honest. They can be theoretical. They can be charming.
Blog titles do have to be honest, and here’s why.
If you name a blog article “The Best Way to Grow a Flower Garden,” the article ought to be about planting a flower garden. If your article is about pruning fruit trees, then clearly there’s a misalignment. Misalignment causes confusion and frustration from website visitors, and it kills your credibility as a trusted authority on the topic at hand.
It’s OK to make your blog title quippy and fun, and even a little clickbaity – as long as it accurately represents what someone is about to read. This is important in search too. High bounce rates on your website are due to search visitors who ask a question, click on a search result, and then hit the back button when the article they choose didn’t answer their question.
[Tweet “If your blog titles aren’t honest, they’re lies, lies, lies. “]
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How to be honest with the most popular types of blog titles
I’m guilty of clicking on way too many articles online. Sometimes I do it because the topic interests me. Other times I do it because the title is so good that I can’t help but click. That’s a major quality of the best blog titles — they’re irresistible. But are they true? Below are some of the most-used blog post formulas, and how you can keep them honest.
The best of the best
Would it surprise you that the best blog titles have “best” in them? The phrase “best of” typically catches a lot of attention. That type of content lets new readers get acquainted with top information on a subject. Best of lists also get the attention of readers already familiar with a topic too, because often they want to see if they agree or disagree with the selections. Either way, “best of” lists are a great way to start conversations. And they’re always honest because they’re who or what you think is the best.
The list of a dozen things
If your article is a list, call it a list. Don’t break it up into 20 little segments with headlines. It’s a list. It’s a listicle. People love them, so embrace them. If you’re writing about 20 ways to cook potatoes, don’t title it “all the ways you can cook potatoes” because it’s probably not all the ways. You’re listing 20, so say there are 20.
The how-to post
When people aren’t looking at porn on the Internet, they’re either social networking, checking email, or attempting to learn something. “How to” is one of the most popular, and continually the most clicked, type of blog post title formula. Excite them. Encourage them to click on your article so they can learn “how to grow green beans”, or whatever it is you’re teaching. Then actually teach them. Be the best resource on the topic so they don’t need to find out “how to” from somebody else.
If your audience already recognizes you as a trusted source of information, grab even more attention by using a blog title out of the ordinary. If you’re in a position to try the art of controversy, you may want to give it a try. If you have something bold to say, don’t cover it up with something flowery and neutral. Make a statement.
Good blog titles will catch the eyes of your readers. The best blog titles will follow up by satisfying readers with exactly what they thought they were getting when they clicked.
[Tweet “Good blog titles get clicked, great ones get read.”]