Updated: Mar 31, 2021
It's one thing to write an impactful article that communicates for change, but it's another thing to get a Christian entrepreneur to read it and for Google to rank it -- which is where nailing the title comes in.
Titles are what sell the Christian reader on wanting to read your article. Titles represent your content on search engines, in email, and on social media. It's no surprise, then, that some of the most common questions we get concern crafting titles.
- How long should my blog title be?
- What words should I use?
- What words should I avoid?
- Should I optimize it for search or for social? Or both?
Luckily, we've come up with a simple formula for writing catchy blog titles that you can reference from here on out. So let's dive right in.
How to Write Catchy Titles Christian Readers Respond To
1) Start with a working title.
Before you get into the nitty-gritty of coming up with a perfect title, start with a rough draft: your working title. What is that, exactly? A lot of people confuse working titles with topics. Let's clear that up:
Topics are very general and could yield several different blog posts. Think "God's timing" or "finding your calling." A writer might look at either of those topics and choose to take them in very, very different directions.
On the other hand, a working title is particular and guides creating a single blog post. For example, from the topic "God's timing," you could derive the following working titles:
Why God Made ‘Timing’ to be the Most Important Factor in Ensuring Your Christian Business’s Success
7 Bible-Based Principles of ‘Timing’ to Ensure Your Business’s Success
Timing is Everything in Business - What Does God Have to Say About It?
If Timing is Everything in Business, then What does God Have to Say About it?
See how different and specific each of those is? That's what makes them working titles, instead of overarching topics. It's also worth noting that none of those titles are perfect -- they should be specific enough to guide your blog post. (We'll worry about making it clickable and search-friendly later.)
2) Stay accurate.
Accuracy is critical when trying to finesse a title because it sets clear expectations for your readers. While I'm sure lots of people would love to click on a post that said "7 Bible-Based Principles of Timing That Will Make You One Million Dollars Tomorrow" ... it's a little bombastic. Don't you think?
Unless, of course, you truly did find the key for making millions of dollars overnight, and in that case, send me a direct email and LET'S TALK!
First and foremost, your title needs to reflect the content that follows accurately.
One way to ensure accuracy? Add bracketed clarification to your headline, as we did here.
In a study of over 3.3 million paid link headlines, it was found that headlines with this type of clarification -- [Interview], [Podcast], [Infographic], etc. -- performed 38% better than headlines without clarification. Again, it's all about setting clear expectations. Thanks to the brackets, these readers knew exactly what they were getting themselves into before they even clicked.
So if you remember nothing else from this blog post, let it be this: The most important rule of titles is to respect the reader experience. If you set high expectations in your title that you can't fulfill in the content, you'll lose readers' trust.
Accuracy encompasses more than just hyperbole, though. With the example working title above, you'd also want to confirm all of the examples are, indeed, Bible-based. Or even that they're all principles of God's timing -- instead of, say, random thoughts of your own that leave readers confused. See what I mean?
3) Make it catchy.
Just because you have to be accurate doesn't mean you can't find ways to make your title pop. There are a lot of ways to make a title catchier.
Of course, all of this hinges on understanding Christian entrepreneurs. You need to find a language that resonates with them and know what they find valuable.
Once you're armed with the knowledge of the Christian entrepreneur's preferred style, try testing out some of these tips for making your headlines a little catchier:
Have some fun with alliteration. The title and header in this blog post, for instance, play with alliteration: Catchy, Christian, Can't. It's a device that makes something a little lovelier to read, and that can have a subtle but strong impact on your reader.
Use strong language. Strong phrases (and, frankly, often negative ones) like "Cant' Resist" or "Best Authors" pack quite a punch. However, these must be used in moderation. If everything is bold, nothing is bold.
Make the value clear. As we mentioned above, presenting the format and/or contents to Christian readers will help your writing captivate your audience. According to our research, templates tend to be particularly powerful for CTR: We found that adding "[Checklist]" to our titles got many views of all bracketed terms.
Make it visual. Is there an opportunity to include visuals within your post? Make that clear in the title. Our research revealed that headlines featuring the word "photo(s)" performed 37% better than headlines without this word.
Focus on the "whos," not the "whys." Want to intrigue Christian entrepreneurs? Focus on the "who": Headlines including the word "who" generated a 22% higher CTR than headlines without it.
For example, let's say you're writing a post titled, "15 of Our Favorite Christian Entrepreneurs on Twitter." How might we punch up our accurate-but-boring working title? Here are some options:
15 Amazing Christians Who Are Crushing It on Twitter
Twitter Success: 15 Inspiring Christians Who Just Get It
15 Must-Follow Christians That Are Seeing Twitter Success
4) Keep it short.
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to how long or short your title should be. It depends on what your goals are and where your headline will appear.
Do you want this post to rank really well in search? Focus on keeping the title under 70 characters, so it doesn't get cut off in search engine results.
Are you trying to optimize your title for social sharing? According to research, headlines between 8–12 words in length got the most Twitter shares on average. As for Facebook, headlines with either 12 or 14 words received the most likes.
Additionally, according to research, blog titles with eight words had a 21% higher clickthrough rate than the average title.
The lesson? It's always a good idea to run a few tests to see what works best for Christian entrepreneurs.
Let's say I was writing this blog post: "Think Social Media Is Just for Influencers? Here Are 10 Statistics Guaranteed to Prove You Wrong." To shorten it, I would try to rephrase it and cut out extraneous words. For instance, I might do something like this:
Before: Think Social Media Is Just for Influencers? Here Are 10 Statistics Guaranteed to Prove You Wrong
After: 10 Stats That Prove Social Media Isn't Just for Influencers
See? It's that easy. Try sounding out the title in your head to make sure it's easily digestible for your Christian readers—the less of a mouthful you can make your titles, the better.
5) Try to optimize for search and social.
I say "try" because, sometimes, trying too hard to optimize for these things can make your title sound strange. Remember: You want to optimize your title for Christian entrepreneurs above all else, but if you can optimize for both search and social, that's great.
The secret to thinking about all three at once? Focus on keywords that you know Christian entrepreneurs are already searching for, and then look into the search volume.
Once you have a keyword in mind, you'll want to be sure to place it as closely as possible to the beginning of your headline to catch your reader's attention. (Again, you should keep your headline under 70 characters, so it doesn't get cut off in search engine results.)
Another important consideration? Make sure your headlines are tweetable. The 120-130-character range is the sweet spot for a high clickthrough rate, according to an analysis of 200,000 tweets with links. This leaves enough space for people to include a short comment if they manually retweet and cite you.
Here's an example: Let's say I'm writing a post titled, "7 Bible-Based Principles of ‘Timing’ to Ensure Your Business’s Success." It looks like there's some wiggle room to optimize it without compromising clarity, right?
If the goal is to rank for the term "God's Timing," I'd recommend something like this:
"Struggling with God's Timing In Your Business? Here Are 7 Principles To Help You Overcome."
This new title works for a few reasons:
It's 89 characters long. This means that it's short enough not to be cut off in search engines, and it's short enough to be retweeted.
The keyword is in the beginning. By moving "God's Timing" to the beginning of the title, we're ultimately increasing the odds that we'll grab our Christian entrepreneur audience's attention.
It's human. I wasn't kidding when I said you should focus on optimizing for your Christian audience first. This title presents both a pain point and a solution all wrapped up in one.
6) Brainstorm with a Christian entrepreneur.
Once you've refined your title using the tips above, it's time to come up for air and connect with someone from church or a close Christian entrepreneur friend. Title brainstorming is an essential part of the process.
Here at Daily Godpreneur, we spend a decent amount of time and brainpower coming up with our titles. Before scheduling a blog post, the final step is pulling another member of our team into a back-and-forth title brainstorm in a chat room. One member of the duo will post the title they recommend into the chat pane window. The other person will then refine that title even further or suggest other angles. After several back-and-forths, the duo will agree on the accurate, catchy, concise, and SEO-friendly title.
Only when both parties agree on a title, do we schedule our post for publishing -- which can take as little as five seconds and as long as ten or so minutes. While that seems like a long time, it's essential to put our best feet forward with each post we publish.
What's your process for crafting blog titles? Let us know in the comments.
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