Saturday, March 10, 2012

Terrible Titles

First, let me admit that I called this post Terrible Titles to catch your attention. It’s not really about ALL terrible titles. It’s about terrible blog post titles, in specific. However, calling it Terrible Blog and Post Titles doesn’t sound as good or grab the reader’s attention as well as Terrible Titles – so, of course, it won out.

And that’s how it works. Choosing a title for a blog post is exactly the same as writing a headline for a newspaper. The object is to get the reader to stop and read the article, not to tell the reader what the story is about, except in a very general way.

As many of you know, I recently published Blog & Tweet, an informal guide to blogging and tweeting. I’m noting several things I missed for what may turn out to be Volume Two and this subject is definitely going to be the first subject.

I see titles for blog posts everyday that just make me cringe. About 50% of them are too long, tell too much, don’t tell enough, have too many hashtags in them, have the same title over and over with only a number change, etc.

Remember to keep it simple and catchy. Don’t clutter it up. Don’t repeat the title (the reader becomes immune to your blog this way). Don’t tell them too much. If it’s not something of interest to them, force them to your page to find out. That may sound tough-minded and that’s because it is. You have to think like a newspaper editor on this one. “How do I get them to buy the paper?” The answer is: With great headlines and an eye-catching front page. “How to I keep them buying the newspaper?” And the answer is…with great content.

So, here are a few examples of great blog post titles from this week alone. Each one makes you wonder what’s inside the box.

life in the fish bowl by Erica Lucke

The Sleeper Awakens by Jack Durkish

The Importance of Thumbs by Gilly Fraser

The Girls’ Guide to Dating Zombies by Frederick Lee

Blog titles are similar. The difference is that the title of your blog is going to stay with you a long time. Choose carefully. Make sure it reflects what you have to say or the character of what you think your posts will be about. If you don’t know yet, then pick something catchy but all encompassing.

Okay, I’m off my soapbox.


  1. Thank you Kathy Lynn - I'm highly delighted to find my title on your list - in fact it's made my day! I agree wholeheartedly - the title is the hook to draw the reader in and if it's boring or bland or just plain blah - most will pass on by.

  2. It was a great pleasure picking a few of the best titles from the current ones on my Triberr stream. Yours are always good! Thanks for stopping by Gilly!

  3. Good points, I always have trouble with my titles. I'll try to keep them shorter after reading this.

  4. Kathy,

    What are your thoughts on optimizing blog titles for SEO? I try to incorporate SEO practices when crafting blog titles/deadlines, but I find it a daunting challenge.

  5. That is such a great question! I think it's always a good idea to use SEO when possible, but wouldn't sacrifice an excellent headline for it. Here's why - 1)you are already visible to large numbers of people through Triberr and it's more important to get a known audience to your post 2) I think if you StumbleUpon your own post you will ultimately get close to the same advantage.

  6. I have not really explored StumbleUpon and was not familiar with Triberr until reading your post. I'll have to check them out!

  7. Great titles. Now, I have another challenge for you:

    I have been tagged repeatedly, and I'm passing on the fun. I have 11 questions for you on my blog:

    Answer them in your blog, then find 11 more bloggers to pass your own 11 questions to.


  8. Your blog title is similar to branding. You want people to recognize you simply by seeing or hearing your blog title or an image you use. Me, I use wormholes. That's my schtick. So if someone sees or hears "wormhole" I want them to think of me and my books.

    Uh oh. I see your Word Verification (WV) is still on. I'm on a mission to rid the world of this unnecessary evil frustration! Please stop by my blog and select the How To Turn Off Your Word Verification tab and help make the world a better place one blog at a time.