Once you get even remotely serious about blogging, you’re bound to go out there looking for advice/ideas/information. There’s plenty of stuff out there, much of which is quite good.
I think the most important thing to remember is this:
There are no hard-and-fast absolutes when it comes to blogging, only things that have worked and not worked for others.
That’s not to say that there aren’t better (and worse) ways of doing things, but doing X or Y isn’t a guarantee of anything. That’s the mystery of blogging.
One of the first things you realize is the importance of your blog post titles.
Here’s what I’ve learned along with my own thoughts:
1. Be Specific: This is probably the most important thing. And this is where I learned my lesson last night. I had joined open mic night (which is a blast), and when we got on the topic of Fawlty Towers (which is hysterical) I decided to run an impromptu contest.
I quickly came to my blog and posted about it, using the title:
I Cook Like I… (Join the Fun at Successful Blog Open Mic Night, Win the Fawlty Towers Complete Collection DVD)
Liz Strauss put it on reddit but it didn’t get as much traffic as I expected. Then I realized why — the title isn’t specific enough. “I Cook Like I…” – What the heck does that mean? Someone seeing that, amongst a list of 20 other blog posts won’t really pick up on it. I should have made it clear that it was a contest, and for 1-night/day only. People love contests and I bet that would have generated more traffic.
Lesson learned. Be specific.
Copyblogger agrees: How to Get 53% More Readers for Every Blog Post You Write (Go Read This!)
2. Long Blog Post Titles: I wish I had some references for this, but I’ve seen a general consensus among some successful bloggers that long blog post titles work better. In some ways this makes sense to me, and I’ve been experimenting with longer titles recently. For one, it’s often easier to be specific when you’ve got a few more words to use. But, just because you can be wordy doesn’t mean you’ll be more specific and doesn’t mean your title will mean much of anything. Don’t be a blabber mouth.
Others, btw, disagree. For example: 5 Tips for Crafting Blog Post Titles (read #1)
3. Stand Out: This is tricky. Writing good blog post titles is like writing good newspaper headlines (and knowing someone that does that, I know how hard it is). Writing in general is hard. But if you can, and the mood/theme of the post warrants it, say something that stands out in the title. Say something daring. Here’s an example:
Now, originally, I wanted it to just say, “Are You a Fat Pig?” But then I was worried that would be (a) a bit too offensive, (b) not mean much to anyone. So, I extended it. I’m not sure that was a good idea in this case because it loses some of its punch. But it does help with points #1 and #2 above.
4. Use Effective Keywords: Almost everyone will tell you this, and I think if anything, this is the most “absolute” of my points. Use effective keywords in your blog post titles. Use words that are related to your blog, use words that you want/hope people will search for using Google, etc. so that they can find your posts. It’s a fairly well-known and accepted truth that search engines eat up blog post titles with vigor, so if you’ve got good keywords in there, your search traffic will improve.
Bottomline — writing blog post titles is tough. It seems like it’d be easy, but it’s not. You have to experiment with different approaches, mix it up a bit – go long, go short, go quirky/zany, go serious. Always be as specific as you can, and always think about using valuable keywords (without losing the meaning of your titles).
Meanwhile, I’ve learned my lesson. The contest was a huge success during open mic night but I was hoping to draw others from the outside into it. You can still throw in your submission by the way, so go check out the contest (it’s the post right below this one!)[tags]blog post titles, writing blog posts, blogging[/tags]