Blogging comes with some unique challenges that magazine and other print writers don’t have to think about. As a writer for an article in People or Time magazine, the goal is to hook a reader so they turn to your page. But with blogging, the reader doesn’t even have the magazine in their hands yet! It is up to you to create titles that not only sound inviting and interesting, but also have enough information so that a search engine can find it. This is not an easy task.
What kind of blog title are we going to look at? We’ll start with the blog URL or address, then move onto the overarching blog title, and finally, blog post titles.
Choosing a Blog Address
If you haven’t started a blog yet, this is the section for you. What kind of domain name do you want to grab for your next literary masterpiece? The sky is the limit and you have all your options option.
However, most of you reading this probably already have some sort of URL or domain name. Perhaps it is a free one through Blogger or WordPress, or maybe you’ve customized it. If you are concerned that your URL isn’t a good fit, you can always purchase another domain name and point it to your current website or blog. It is called a permanent redirect and allows you to capture a great domain name without sacrificing your current URL ranking with the major search engines. If you are an established blogger, this is a good option. If however you are just starting out, you might want to go ahead and move your blog to a better address now before you get established.
No matter which category you fall under, here are some thoughts about a blog URL address.
1. Does it contain a keyword?
For example, if you are a photographer, do you have the word “photo”, “picture”, “photography” or something similar in the address? Having keywords as part of your domain name is great for search engine optimization. However, sometimes it isn’t possible (depending on your niche). For example, don’t fret if you absolutely can’t work the word “writer” into your domain name for your writing blog.
2. Is it memorable?
Once I had a blog called Continuing the Journal. It was hard for people to remember the name, not to mention it was tedious to type. Despite the fact that there are a LOT of URL addresses already taken, try to find an address that isn’t too long. You can always go with a .org, .biz, or .us suffix if the regular .com isn’t available. The goal is for readers to remember it so they can type it in the address bar and not have to wait for a link or other visual reminder.
3. Does it have a descriptive word?
Using the photography example, maybe you don’t want the word photo in the address, but you could use the word “capture” instead. Go through a thesaurus and write down all the descriptive words you could use to describe your blog and the niche. Then see if one of those words might work in the URL address.
Choosing a Blog Title
So once you have a domain name, it is time to decide on a blog title. Having a blog title match your URL is cleaner, but sometimes you can’t make it happen that way (especially if you are working with an old URL that you aren’t up for changing).
My main blog used to be called Life According to Julie. While the title isn’t too bad, the URL has nothing to do with the title. The URL address is simply http://jdeneen.com. This makes it harder to remember. The best blogs are the ones with the same title and URL, but it’s not always possible.
1. Start with a thesaurus.
I mentioned this above, but a thesaurus is a super handy tool for coming up with a catchy title. Let’s take the photography example. First, grab a few words that you love and then search for synonyms in your thesaurus.
2. Think about your name.
Do you have a name that could work with your title? This is especially important for lifestyle bloggers.
3. Use a play on words.
It is really fun when bloggers create titles that are clever. If you can’t work it into the title, you might be able to put it in your tag line. Every blog should have a title and then a tag line, which describes in a sentence what your blog is about.
I know a photographer named Aimee. Her blog is called Take “Aim” Photography. It is simple, clever, unique to her, and uses a keyword. Her URL is http://www.takeaimphotography.com.
The tag line to my fabulous blogging site says, “Decoding the blog scene…one post at a time.” This is a play on words since the word “post” is displayed on a post-it but also represents the phrase “blog post”. I also tried to use the word Blog and a techy word like Decoding so people know it is a how-to site.
4. Incorporate keywords.
Whenever you can, add a keyword without sacrificing the creative spin. It is ultimately a balance. You want your URL address and your blog title to be easy to remember, clever, and searchable with engines like Google and Bing.
5. Make up words.
This can be a fun tactic as long as you carefully use keywords in your tag line, URL, and post titles. My good friend Cyndi has a blog called Pictimilitude. It sets her apart because the word is a combination of picture (since she is into photography) and the word verisimilitude, which means “appearance of truth.”
Creating Blog Post Titles
Here is where you truly want to stick to search friendly titles. That should be your first priority and if you can make it catchy, fabulous. The only exception would be if your blog is already so popular that you have more organic and viral traffic, rather than search engine traffic.
Let’s say you are writing a post about your Pinterest fail cupcake experiment. Don’t title it, “My Messed Up Cupcake Experiment”but instead try, “I Saw a Cupcake Recipe on Pinterest and it Went Horribly Wrong.” It isn’t quite as exciting, but it will rank better because you are more likely to reach people who are searching for cupcake recipes gone wrong AND Pinterest recipes that failed too.
If your blog title and URL are sensitive to keyword and search engine optimization, then you can afford to be a bit clever with your titles. Always try to include a hook that entices people click on the link!
Use the SEO by Yoast Plugin for the Benefit of Two Titles
With this plugin, you can use your “catchy” title as the main post title, but then create a title specific to search engines. That title should be far more descriptive and less about clever.
Now, a little bit about SEO when creating your blog post titles…
The three letters stand for…
In English? Making your blog appear on search engines so people can find you. So let’s get really basic for a minute.
You want to write a post about your son’s basketball game…or more specifically, how much you hated the way his coach handled the kids. How do you write a title for your post that not only will hook your readers but draw in relevant traffic?
Try to think like someone who is on Google looking for information about how to deal with a stupid coach. What might they type in? Go to Google and act like that person.
How to deal with a negative coach?
That was my first thought. Type it in (without the punctuation) and watch what happens…
Scroll down and see what comes up. If you think you can beat the content that is there, then that would be a great focus keyword to use in your title.
How to deal with a negative coach came up with nothing relevant for me. In fact, all the related searches had nothing to do with basketball or coaching at all!
So let’s try this…
How to become a basketball coach.
I realize that isn’t what your post is about, but search it anyway. You’ll see there are people looking for that, but the competition is too high. Let’s keep going.
Coaches who bully kids
Still not what we’re looking for. It would be too hard to rank on the first page.
Kid’s basketball coaches
This was the search query that looked the most promising, and by promising I mean– there wasn’t a lot of great content on the first page of Google search results.
Next I typed in Bad coaching.
Same for this one.
So for now, this is what I’m going to do. Include bad coaching and basketball coach in my title and maybe one or two more times in my article.
So here it is: Bad Coaching- Why I Want to Strangle My Kid’s Basketball Coach
This way it has a hook and it is optimized for search engines.
Now your turn. Go ahead and give it a whirl for your next post!