How to fail horribly with poor article titles

15 FEB 2011 13

The title of your article plays a huge role in your visitors decision to read what you have to say. It should compel your readers to stop whatever they were doing and read your article. Here are some examples of titles that can make your article fail miserably.

Too good to be true

If your title reads “How I made $397,500 in seven days” it will probably be laughed at, to say the least. Everyone knows that you didn't, you know that you didn't, and it looks like spam.  Simply put: don’t do it. You don't want to make claims that are obviously false, and don’t take your readers for fools.

A mile-long title

“With the wealth of the xyz on today’s market, it’s sometimes hard to” … Hello? Paragraphs are meant to be placed in the body, not in the title. If you have some huge chunk of text to be placed on the very top of your article, use a sub-heading. Search engines “read” around 70 characters from your title, so you should at least try to follow their guidelines. You are on the safe side with a little more than 60. (If you are keen on technicalities, Google shows 69 characters from your titles, Yahoo can read up to 72 and Bing 65).

On the flip side, don’t be overly stingy with your title. “Diet” or “Make money” are way too short to provide any information as to what the article is actually about, so they won’t draw any attention. A very short title may be alright only if it’s somewhat provocative, funny or absurd. “Mindreading Explained”, “Monkey knows” or “SEO is evil” might do the trick.

Off-topic titles

Let’s say you run a blog on your pizza delivery website. It’s not appropriate to post an article titled “College cuts scholarships” even though you are going to talk about something that impacted your business. If you lost some clients because students could no longer afford to order pizza from your service and you want to blog about it, call your article something in the line of “College budget cuts affect pizza deliveries”.

Childish formatting

Keep headings like “L@@K!” or “>>WOW!<<” to eBay listings. AlTeRnAtInG letters in your title are also a no-no, unless you are 12 and want to impress your colleagues with your “cool” blog. Don’t use special characters in your titles to draw attention, you will be regarded as unprofessional.

Keyword stuffed titles

Would you read an article titled “Best Ice Cream – Learn How To Make The Best Ice Cream from The Best Ice Cream Makers | Ice Cream Blog”? Neither would I. Even though you might get some benefits from Google, remember that spiders don’t have credit cards. You don’t get any benefit from pages that rank high in search engine results if no one (human) reads them.

All in all, use common sense when writing the title of your article. Put yourself in the shoes of your reader and see if you would read it.

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