How Important Are Titles in Our Content Online?

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newspaper titles so important How Important Are Titles in Our Content Online?When I was the editor of a magazine, I received a wide range of articles with titles that were very undescriptive, depressing, and even unsettling. It is expected that every editor will change titles of material and one of the keys to becoming a welcomed writer at any magazine is to send in submissions with titles that could actually be used.

In fact, as the editor of a magazine, in my guidelines are described them of our needs as “Look at the cover of Good Housekeeping and study the titles. Then write articles that reflect these topics in addition to adding on the terms chronic illness and Christian faith. This will help you understand the type of articles we are looking for.”

I recently tried to explain to a couple of writers who contribute to one of my websites that I was occasionally updating titles of the content. This was for a few different reasons:

1. The title is the most descriptive part of the message and if it is not appealing or interesting people will not click on it, and therefore it never even have the opportunity to be read.

2. Many of the titles of articles people were submitting were the same or very similar. For example, if 3 people send you articles with titles like, “Getting Through The Baby Blues”; “Dealing With The Baby Blues” and “Coping With The Baby Blues” –even if all of the articles are different in conquering the challenge of baby blues– will your readers know this? No. They will think you are just reposting the same content and updating the title (as many publishers do read books that they re-release with new titles)

3. On the Internet everything comes down to best describing your content so that it can be found by those who are searching for it. Rather than having a title that says “Waiting to Adopt” one should have the title of the blog posts be “Getting Past The Discouraging Moments Of Waiting to Adopt from China.” This is of course, assuming that the blog post is actually about getting past the discouraging moments while waiting to adopt from China.

I recently read in an article, “5 Tips for Writing Effective Web Content” by a nonprofit organization, “Titles are the very first things people read in their email subject line, RSS reader and Twitter or Facebook feed. You could argue that this is the single most important part of any content you produce because without a great title people won’t click (and the all mighty click is what you’re after, right?).”

And Copy Blogger writes in “How to Write Magnetic Headlines”

“On average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest. This is the secret to the power of your title, and why it so highly determines the effectiveness of the entire piece.” They have an excellent 11-part series that gives some specific guidance that will increase your ability to write better headlines in just hours.

I have also found that by focusing on a quality title I am forced to be more specific in my writing and that it sometimes takes me in a new direction and creates a topic that I had not previously planned on writing about. There are times when I have a title and I start writing the article and soon it turns into three or four different articles.

Some publishing houses now go to the extent to buy Google Ad words. They create 2 to 5 different ads and have the title of each ad be a possible title of one book that they are going to publish. In just a few hours or perhaps a couple of weeks, a publisher can do inexpensive research and find out which title is the best possible one to use on the book.

I was taught as a speaker many years ago from Florence Littauer at CLASS that the best way to find not only what is trending but also how to write great headlines is to pause at the grocery store checkout line and examine those “magazines” that we are often too embarrassed to buy even if we find the headline enticing. There is a reason that everything from the National Enquirer to People magazine sell each week even when the content itself is poorly written or even false. It’s those titles!

I would love to hear your comments about how you have improved your writing of titles for blog posts, or perhaps how you chose the title of your book.

 How Important Are Titles in Our Content Online?

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