6 Tips for Writing Compelling Titles



April 16, 2013 (Updated: May 4, 2023)

Even the best articles don’t get read when they have boring titles. Follow these 6 tips for writing compelling titles that will give your articles a competitive edge. Otherwise, they’ll go unnoticed, just like millions of other online posts.

1. Tell the Reader When to Expect a List

Internet users like lists. They’re easy to browse and they save time. If your article contains a list, tell the reader how many points to expect. Notice this article’s title. It worked on you, and it will work on other readers, too.

2. Ask a Question in Your Title

People typically use the Internet to find information and entertainment. If you’re offering information, you can connect with the reader by asking a question. When you choose a question that mirrors the reader’s question, she will probably read your article.

This article could be called “How Can I Attract More Readers With a Compelling Title?” or “How Do I Write Compelling Blog Titles?”

3. Include Keywords in Your Title

You want to attract human readers with your title, but you also want to attract search engines. Otherwise, readers might never find your post. Attract search engines by using keywords in your titles. It’s best to use keyword phrases with two or three keywords because about 60 percent of searches include more than one keyword query.

4. Deliver What Your Title Promises

We’ve all found articles that seem to offer the answers we want. After you get beyond the first paragraph, though, you realize that you’ve fallen victim to a bait-and-switch. The article had the right title, but its content doesn’t deliver the title’s promise. Imagine if this article’s content focused on using keywords in subheadings instead of writing compelling titles. You’d feel mislead and annoyed. Don’t make your readers feel that way.

5. Create Intrigue

Seasoned writers know that intrigue doesn’t come easy. They also know that 80 percent of people will bother reading titles, but only 20 percent take the time to read content. Even if you have to pace your office for an hour, it’s worth it when you come up with a compelling title. One of my personal favorites tapped into the fear of Twitter and hashtags: The End of Hashtags As You Know It!

There isn’t a magic formula for intrigue, but there are some guidelines that you can follow. Try to:

  • Use evocative words (“Tips for Writing Titles” isn’t as evocative as “6 Tips for Writing Compelling Titles”)
  • Leave some mystery that encourages the reader to wonder what the article will say
  • Let your personality shine through so it doesn’t sound like titles written by anyone else

6. Make Sure You Don’t Copy Someone Else’s Title

Common topics can have common titles. Before posting your article, make sure you have chosen a fresh title that no one else is using. If there’s already an article named “6 Tips for Writing Compelling Articles,” then I would change mine to something new.This not only helps your work stand out, it also helps search engines identify your article when someone searches for it.

Do you use other strategies when writing titles? Have you found that some tactics attract readers better than others?


Timothy Carter is the search & social media mind at Smash Hit Displays. When Tim isn’t telling the world about the great work his company does, he’s helping solopreneurs and small businesses with their social media marketing.

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