Stop Writing Crappy Titles

Before you sit down to write that next great article, you might want to sit down and learn how to write a killer title first. Otherwise, that great article will probably go completely unnoticed.

In this episode we talk about what makes a good title and give you some tools to get started with yours.


Let’s Talk Titles

Those articles you place on your website are kind of important. You may not realize how important the titles of the articles are. We’re going to spend a little time making sure you understand how much effort you need to actually put into those. I dare say it, almost as much as you put into making the article itself. We’ll get into that in a minute. Before I do, before I jump into all that, what I want to do is say thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who so far has downloaded the Auto Pilot Clients video course, taking a look at it, partaking of it, whatever, however you want to say it.

Thank you for the feedback that let’s me know there was a few things in there I needed to tweak. Not so much the video course, but the delivery because I don’t want that to be the thing that slows you down. Folks in Canada, folks in San Francisco, folks all over the place which warms the cockles of my heart, I cannot tell you because you know I want you to be as successful as possible. I want to get you from where you’re standing to where you’re trying to go.

I want to put the tools in your toolkit so that you can go forth and do good things without wondering if you’re doing things right. The Auto Pilot Clients goes a long way to doing that. There’s actually one other thing I wanted to talk about before I jump into the soup du jour. That’s a new thing that I added because of that rant that I had a couple days ago or a couple episodes ago. That’s the checklist that I use. When I’m working with a new client and I’m trying to explain to him the way of the world, I have a way of going about looking at their footprint.

I was like, “That might be helpful for my people listening to me on the podcast. Why don’t I just put it on the website?” I did. If you go to the website, halfway down the page, you’ll see the three buttons. One of which takes you to Auto Pilot Clients. One takes you to the podcast home which if you’re listening to me, you probably don’t need to go there. The third one takes you to the checklist and that’s the actual checklist that I use.

I gussied it up a little bit so that it makes sense to you because every now and then I get a little geekalicious as you know. When you’re writing for you, for yourself, a lot of times you leave some terms out. I had to go back through and make sure I put all the gumbo back in. Even if I didn’t, if there’s something that’s missing, you know how to get a hold of me to let me know that something left you hanging there. At I Help Salons Sherpa at I Help Salons or 702-582-6708. Whatever is your favorite flavor, reach out to me. Get at me however you get at me. That’s that. Thank you again. Now, let’s hit this soup du jour.

You may not know this, but everyday there’s a little slice of the Internet marketing world known as the blogosphere where professional bloggers duke it out for attention. Your attention, my attention, whomever. Whoever’s attention they can get their hands on. Doesn’t matter. Doesn’t even matter if they’re in the United States. As long as you read English. Australia, New Zealand, Britain, all of the British isles, Canada, the English speaking part, and of course the United States. If you can read it and they can get you to look at it, they can monetize it. Make the cash register ring.

These folks are fighting it out on a global scale. They are expert at putting together content that is actually downright useful. You know what they’re even better at doing though? Writing really really good titles. They have to be if you think about it. Because first off, there’s a lot of bloggers out there. There’s a lot of articles are there. The title is the thing that grabs you by the eyeballs and says, “Look at me. Look at me. Look at me.” You know? If they can’t get you to look at the article, no cha-ching. It’s as simple as that.

If you’re using your website to reach out and grab folks and put cheeks in the seats, you’re in the same boat as they. However, you’re not operating on a global scale. Thank goodness. You’re really just competing against the folks to your left and right. As we pretty much know, the folks to your left and right really aren’t competing the way we’re competing, which is a good thing. Today we’re going to make you a little smarter about titles. I’m going to give you a little knowledge, give you a little “why” behind the “what,” and then give you some tools to stick in your kit bag, so you can start writing really good titles today.

Are they as good today as they’re going to be in a little bit once you do this on a regular? Nope, but they’re good enough to get you where you need to go. Gets some eyeballs on your stuff so you can get cheeks in the seats. Make that thing do what it’s supposed to do. Before I get ahead of myself though, let’s do a quick recap as to why we’re doing the article thing in the first place. People have questions. People have questions about the services you provide.

Maybe they don’t know exactly what it is they want, but they’re going to wander to the Internet to try and find out what they can. Your job is to be there waiting for them. Create the articles that ask the questions you know they’re going to ask, so they find you. When they find you, they find your website. Once they get to your website, that’s when the magic happens. The magic can’t happen if you don’t get them there. Can’t get them there if you don’t write the articles that answer the questions. It doesn’t matter if you answer those questions if you can’t get them to read it. Hence, let’s talk titles.

With the thousands of thousands of titles have ever been written since the dawn of writing, there’s really only a handful of types of titles that we’re going to concern ourselves with. We’re going to do that smart thing. We’re not going to reinvent the wheel. We’re going to take a look at people who do this for a living do and we’re going to do that. When it comes to anything that looks, smells, tastes like blogging, writing articles, slapping them online, you know, that kind of thing, title writing, anything, I’ve got two go-tos.

The first one are the folks over at copyblogger.com. As the name implies, that’s all they’re about. Blogging. They built the platform and they’ve been talking about this, that, and the other since before it was cool. The other go-to is the one that I’m going to lean on heavily for this one because she’s the first one I came across. Is a lady by the name of Diana Urban. She’s a youngster. I say, “youngster” because I’m older than her. However, she has been around and I don’t mean that in the biblical sense. I mean that in the folks who know their stuff, trust and rely on her.

She’s got a site called ustandout.com. She doesn’t do anything on that site except hand out goods know information. If you don’t remember anything else from this episode, ease your biscuits on over to ustandout.com and wander around. I came across Diana Urban a few years back when I stumbled across one of her articles that turned out to be one of those go-to articles. The kind that you refer back to time and time again. You bookmark it and you just wear that bookmark out. Yeah, this was one of those type articles. The name of the article was “How to Create a Blog Post Title that Gets Serious Traffic: 101 Ideas.”

Needless to say, write your titles, it’s nice to have something to jump start the cranium as you’re putting something together. Since then, I’ve actually found a little bit more value, not in the 101 examples of titles, although that’s still useful, but more in the five categories that these titles are broken down into. These five categories are: How-To Headlines, List Headlines, Negative Spin Headlines, Make Things Easier Headlines, and Provided Education Type Headlines.

The reason I say that these five categories are more important to me now is first off, I bumped into those categories on other people’s websites. This is not just a Diana Urban thing. This is one of those this is what the pros know kind of thing. The reason why it’s important to me now is because it helps with one of the techniques that I have in the APC. I know that you’re not going to write articles. Maybe you will, but yeah, I don’t think so. You got other things to do. That’s the whole concept about the APC. You got other things to do.

Yeah, you need to be online. Yeah, you need to answer questions, but that doesn’t mean you have to do it. In APC I give you an example of a few places that write articles for you and a couple of techniques on how to give your writer the seed information to get that article written. Part of the seed information that you need to give to that article is the direction that you want that article to go. Yeah, you know the question that you’re trying to answer, but you need to understand or you need to be able to tell them, the writer that is, the format you want the article to be written in. The voice, the audience, etc.

You also need to be able to tell them the type of article. One of the ways you do that is by giving the title ahead of time. You give them the title, it gives them a road map on which direction to go. Probably a good idea to know the different categories of titles. Because the questions that you need to answer may only fit into one category. You need to understand what the categories are so you can fit the question in and get the content written. Now, here’s the point where I have to urge a little bit of caution.

I say a little bit of caution because the natural progression of the stuff I’m telling you about, if you’re going to do it, is you’re going to start with the article that I gave you from Diana Urban which is basically a fill-in-the-blank. Let’s call it training wheels. That’s the best way of looking at it. Fill-in-the-blank type training wheels to get you to understand how to structure these titles. From there, if you’re like most folks new to the this little territory, this terrain, you’re going to say, “Hey, is there an automated way of doing this?” The answer of course is, yes. Yes, there is.

There are blog title generators all over the Internet. I’ve actually included the links to two in the show notes just to save you from wandering around online. Just go to ihelpsalons.com/106 and you see them right there. You can click on them. You can explore them. One’s from HubSpot and they are knee-deep into the conversion side of the house, which means this is what they do. The other one is from SEOPressor, which I badmouthed them a good few episodes ago about one of their products and why I don’t particularly like it, but that has nothing to do with this title generator.

The thing about this title generator or any title generator, the folks over at Copy Blogger, they basically say it best. I put another link to a download for an article from … that’s not an article. It’s an ebook the folks over at Copy Blogger and it’s called “How to Write Magnetic Headlines.” Kind of apropos for this episode. What do you think? The one section of the article I want to bring out to you is this. When referring to all of the people online who are selling headline swipe files or programs, like the ones that I put in the show notes that promise a fill-in-the-blank solution. It says don’t get suckered by this.

Like I said, read through this. It’s a really good read. The problem with that approach should be obvious. If you don’t understand why a particular headline works, you would never be any good at writing them. If you really don’t understand why they work, you might choose the wrong “formula.” Might pick the wrong headline. Like I told you a little while ago, you got to pick the one that fits. You might even take a really good article and slap a really crappy headline on it and next thing you know, you defeated your own purpose.

Since I’ve already provided you fill-in-the-blank stuff, since I’ve already provided you some links to some software that will spit out quasi usable headlines, we’re going to spend the rest of this time making sure you got the “why” behind the “what.” Because you got to understand why these things work and then once you do, there’s no stopping you. Okay. You got people coming to your website. You got three flavors of people coming to your website. You got people who have just heard of … Or should I say just discovered an issue that they have. Let’s go back to my tried and true which is … No, no, no, no. When I talked about early this week on my folks.

Let’s talk about kerotin treatments, hair straightening, that’s it. You got kinky hair? You got “witchiepoo” up on top and you know you got an issue. You’re tired of it. You being the person who’s about to wander to the website. You don’t know what the solution is, but you know that there might be one out there so you go wandering. You’re not looking for any specific solution. You’re sure not looking for any particular person. You’re looking for, “How do I fix this?” You’re going to let’s say for this example, stumble upon carnitine treatment or no, no, no, no, hair straightening.

Each stage of the process, once they figure out hair straightening, once they figure out organic, and then once they figure out, “I am looking for someone who does organic,” that’s a trip to the Internet. When they start looking, you got to make sure they look at you. You want them to look at you hot and steamy because you got a good hot and steamy. You know you do. That’s where your headlines come in. You need to understand the “why.” One of the biggest part of that “why” has to do with the keywords. What would someone write into the search box if they were looking to answer their question?

What I want you to wrap your head around is you’re not going to write just one article. That’s not the game. You’re trying to be everywhere they’re searching for everything they’re searching for. This is not a short-term process. You’re going to do your best to stand everywhere they’re looking. You can use all these different titles, use different categories of titles to give you the seed information to push you in the direction that you’re trying to go. According to Copy Blogger, the most popular type of article is the how-to.

Quote, “The crazy thing about the popularity of how-to content is the fact that people don’t really want to learn how to do anything else. They got plenty to do already. It’s exactly due to the crazy busy lives we lead that prompts out to seek out tips, tricks, and methods to make things better, easier, and ultimately, happier for ourselves.” Let’s roll back over to the article that I’ve linked to from Diana Urban, that “101 Different Headlines.” There’s a whole section on how-to. Matter of fact, the very first section is on how-to and it’s 16 different versions.

Let me give you an idea of just with this organic concept how understanding the “why” and having the job aid which I’ll call these things, will help you get that article title written. If making things better, easier, and happier is the idea, then let’s see. Number 9 says how to keyword dash the ultimate guide. How about this? If you’re organic and you create a title, send it off to your writer, and the title that you give them is, “How to Straighten Your Hair Naturally: The Ultimate Guide.”

If someone’s is at the very front-end of the buying process, if they’re just trying to figure out about hair straightening, they’re probably going to run across that one and it might, might just get their attention. What do you think? Number 14 is, how to know when to blank, do something. We’ll stick with the hair straightening. How to know when to switch to organic hair care. How to know when to switch to natural hair straightening treatments. You get the idea, right? Look at who you’re talking to. Think about what they really really want and craft the title that’s along that flavor.

They’re looking for something that makes their lift better, easier, and happier then you just have to wrap your content the thing you’re trying to show them around that concept. Cool? Cool. Before I bounce out here, I want to throw one more nugget in your direction. It’s one of those there’s different strokes for different folks and sometimes some people like rocky road, some people like chunky monkey. It’s all ice cream, but you know. If I give you enough resources, maybe one will resonate with you. The folks over at Quick Sprout and it’s another one of those firms that caters to professional bloggers, copyrights and things like that.

They’ve got this really cool hand-out online. It’s called “The Definitive Guide to Copywriting.” Chapter 3 of that guide is nothing but how to write headlines. That being the case, I figure let me through you a little chunky monkey. There’s a lot of pithy things. It’s really nice graphics and stuff like that. It’s made for you to visually consume so it’s always a good thing. One thing that’s in there that I want you to take a look at if you get a chance. It’s something they refer to as the “Four U’s of Headlines.” It says your headlines should be unique. Your headlines should be ultra-specific. Your headlines should convey a sense of urgency. Your headlines should be useful.

That’s a lot of information that I’ve thrown at you. Giving you a little something from Copy Blogger, a little something from Diana Urban. Now I’m hitting you with something from the folks over at Quick Sprout. All these folks. You remember that big G geek thing I was telling you about? Yeah, these are big G geeks when it comes to copywriting and things like that. I’m bringing this down because I want you to not get discouraged. It’s very easy to do so because you might think this is overly complicated. Do not think that.

I want you to take the long version. We’re not swinging for the fences here. This is small ball. Single after single after single, move the runner around the bases and score. It’s as simple as that. You’re going to write a lot of articles. You’re going to write a lot of articles because you’re going to want those … Let me back up. Pump the brakes. You’re not writing the articles. You’re going to have a lot of articles written. You don’t have time to write the articles. At least that’s what I think.

You’re going to know how to get the correct articles written. You’re going to know how to get the articles written and get them seen. Remember, you’re not operating on a global scale. These folks are writing for people who are operating on a global scale. The fundamentals that they’re talking about are correct. There’s no difference between what they’re talking about and what you need. You just need to understand that you’re not competing against folks who are operating at this level. You’re competing against folks locally. You’re going to do a simple thing.

You’re going to take all this goodness that you know, you’re going to put it in play, and then you’re going to focus it down into your local niche. Doing that one simple thing puts you head and shoulders above your competition. Don’t get crazy. I know this is one of those, “Wow, Sherpa. Can you shove a little bit more into this episode?” You know, it is what it is. This is good stuff. If you’re listening to me, I want you to be successful.

Some stuff, I just can’t sugar coat for you. Got to give you the tools [and taking 00:19:50] in the toolkit, but you got to reach your hand in there and play with the dark greasy shapes. So, there it is. We’ll revisit this again in the future because this is just good stuff. Every time I find something new that makes it easier, whether that’s just software or someone puts out another article that’s really worth taking a look at. Or we just have some experiences from folks that want to call in and say, “Hey, I did this and it worked.”

We’re going to do it all for you because we’re going to get you where you need to be. Cheeks in the seats, baby doll. Cheeks in the seats. This has been another episode of the I Help Salons podcast brought to you by me, your friendly neighborhood Internet Sherpa and all the cool things that we do over the micro branding and in the words of the immortal, the chief rocker Frankie Crocker, “May you live as long as you want, never want as long as you live. May you live to be 100 and me, 100 minus a day, so I’ll never know that nice people like you have passed away.” Go forth and do great things. I will see you right back here next week. Same back time, same back channel. Bye.

Mentioned in this episode:
Copyblogger – How To Write Magnetic Titles
Diana Urban – How To Create Blog Titles That Get Serious Traffic 101 Examples
Quicksprout – The Definitive Guide to Copywriting | Chapter 3 Headline Writing 101

TITLE GENERATORS:
SEOPRESSOR BLOG TITLE GENERATOR
HUBSPOT’S BLOG TOPIC GENERATOR