Hook readers simply by writing more descriptive post titles

While participating in online communities for writers I often hear others ask, “How can I gain more readership to my blog or site?”

newspaper by Nicolas Nova is licensed under Creative Commons | Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
newspaper by Nicolas Nova is licensed under Creative Commons | Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

My answer:  Use a more descriptive post title so that a reader is compelled to read on. And no, this doesn’t give you liberty to write click-bait titles like, You won’t believe what she did next!  

Although we writers view ourselves as creative artists—and of course we are—it doesn’t give us a free pass to be so eccentric and creative that we expect the public to read our work simply for who we are.   We need to use more descriptive post titles so that a casual reader skimming a list of post titles on a given topic is compelled to read the next five-hundred to seven-hundred words that follow. Let me put my reader hat on and give you a few examples:

The Good

  • How to Cope with Bullying —This article is posted on Ask a Tech Teacher by my writer-friend Jacqui Murray.  Simply reading the subject lets the reader know what they can expect to find on the other side of the click-through.
  • A FREE Program That Lets You Draw, Sketch, and Paint —This article is posted on What’s On My PC by Ramblin’ Rick (Ramblinrick).  Since I’m into technology I closely follow the near-daily posts on this site.  Again, pretty clear description of what’s to come.

The Bad

Here’s a list of actual post titles I scared up today.  Links are disabled, of course.  I’m not looking to embarrass or call anyone out in particular.

  • Life Philosophy—Meh.  Doesn’t get my attention to want to read on.
  • Deep Waters—This post is listed under a tag that I frequently visit.  It has nothing to do with deep water.
  • FT-221—This is a model number, not a legitimate post title.
  • Writing and Music (2 min read)—Gah!  Don’t insult readers by including a hint to the length.  You want to spoil your guests, not attract window shoppers to your site. Besides, some individuals are slow readers.

I hope this inspires you to reconsider your strategy for writing more descriptive post titles.  While it may be frightening to see your readership fall off at first, in the end you’ll be sowing the seeds to build a more loyal following to your blog or site.  You’ll have a better chance of finding new readers from major search engines when your post is presented at the top of the stack due to its relevance.




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