Darren recently highlighted some of the posts that attract clicks at Digital Photography School. Many readers were interested to see the kinds of titles that do well here at ProBlogger, so today I thought I’d show you the posts that garnered a lot of traffic here in April.
The top titles
Here are the top seven, in order of their traffic levels:
- Win 1 of 10 Trips to the Great Barrier Reef in QLD, Australia #QLDBLOG
- 19 Essential WordPress Plugins for Your Blog
- 9 Facebook Marketing Tactics That’ll Triple Your Fans
- 3 Reasons No One Comes Back to Your Blog—And How to Fix It
- And the Winners Are… #QLDBLOG
- Attract 100,000 Pageviews in 1 Month Using SlideShare
- A Systematic Approach to Writing Successful Blog Posts
Why they work
Looking at this list, a few features immediately jump out at me—I wonder if you found that, too?
- Titles that quantify the post’s benefits work well: Facebook tactics that’ll triple your fans? 100,000 pageviews in one month? 19 Essential plugins? Win one of ten trips? Quantification of benefits is a theme among these titles. I know people say “list posts do well,” but I think the issue—at click—isn’t the list so much as the perceived payoff. And all of these post titles promise a big payoff, up-front. Of course, to be shared, the posts need to deliver on that payoff, and these ones obviously do.
- Natural language speaks volumes: The title 3 Reasons No One Comes Back to Your Blog—And How to Fix It quantifies a benefit, but it also speaks in natural language. It’s a slight exaggeration—you’re probably not getting zero repeat visits to your blog—but it’s one that we’d use in conversation with our blogging friends: “Man, no one comes back to my blog!” The same goes for “tactics that’ll triple your fans.” Bloggers seem reticent to use contractions in titles, but they can work really well—especially in keeping the rhythm of the title swinging along. They also suggest that the post will be written in language that’s approachable and on the level.
- Titles that speak to “you” have cut-through: Three of these titles refer directly to the reader: your blog, your fans. While you’ll want to mix your titles up a bit, bringing the message and the benefits home to your audience by speaking to them directly is a good way to pique readers’ interest. Using “you” and “your” can give titles personal relevance.
- Unique ideas grab attention: We see titles about Facebook marketing and WordPress plugins all the time, and they’re basically essential reading. But some of the other titles in this list communicate unusual ideas, and get attention for that very reason. Get 100,000 pageviewss a month … using SlideShare? That’s going to make a few people stop and sit up. Similarly, systemizing writing is a bit of a foreign concept for many: just how do you systemize what’s seen as an unruly, unpredictable creative task? So topics are important to the success of these posts, too.
How we tweaked them
Finally, I wanted to show you how we’d altered these titles, so you can try similar tweaks on your own post titles.
- Win 1 of 10 Trips to the Great Barrier Reef in QLD, Australia #QLDBLOG: This post was originally called “Queensland Competition” but Darren updated it before publication! Smart move.
- 19 Essential WordPress Plugins for Your Blog: The only change I made here was to the ending. The post’s original title was “19 Essential WordPress Plugins for 2012″ but I thought the content would have more longevity without the time-limitation. I also like to use “your” in titles where I can, because I think it gives some titles more cut-through: “Essential plugins for my blog? Really? Alright, I’ll take a look.”
- 9 Facebook Marketing Tactics That’ll Triple Your Fans: This post was submitted with the title “9 Facebook Marketing Strategies to Triple Your Fans”. I changed “strategies” because, well, they weren’t strategies. I also wanted a stronger sense of causality between the tactics and the results, so I used “that’ll.” Altogether, these changes alliterated well and gave the title a strong natural rhythm, too.
- 3 Reasons No One Comes Back to Your Blog—And How to Fix It: This post was originally titled, “3 reasons no one comes back even after a huge spike in traffic”. The problem was length, and context. Comes back to where? When I see titles in my Twitter feed or RSS feed reader, keywords jump out. I wanted to get “blog” into this one. Also, since Alex had included “The fix?” headings for each of the reasons he’d identified in the post, the “—and how to fix it” part of the title basically wrote itself.
- And the Winners Are… #QLDBLOG: Again, Darren wrote this one and, within the context of the blog, there was no need to change it.
- Attract 100,000 Pageviews in 1 Month Using SlideShare: This one was submitted with the title, “How to get 100,000 views in 1 month using Slideshare” but I wanted to get that big number closer to the start of the title. Also, we have a lot of “how to” posts on ProBlogger, so I try to vary them a bit so the blog doesn’t come across as one big how-to post. Finally, the full word “pageviews” seemed a bit more Google-responsive than “views.”
- A Systematic Approach to Writing Successful Blog Posts: This post was submitted with the title “How to write a successful blog post,” but on reading it I saw that it presented a system for writing, and I’d just scheduled another post on systematized blogging. I thought this post would be a nice follow-up, so I scheduled it for the same day and gave it a title that tied it to the theme of systematized blogging. As I mentioned above, this title was a bit more of a head-turner, since the whole problem with creative tasks like writing is that they seem so slippery and difficult to manage.
How do you go about creating good titles for posts on your blog? Share your secrets with us in the comments.