We’ve all been there, sitting in our office chair, staring at an empty word document and a blinking cursor. Why can’t you think of anything to write about?
If you’d like a quick summary of the steps in this article click here to go to a condensed summary.
It’s been one of those days, you’ve been very busy and now you need to write a 1500 word blog for your company’s website. But creativity is a finite resource and you’re all out of juice. You can’t even think of a blog title let alone begin the long process of writing an article.
But when it comes to thinking up ideas for your company’s blog, crafting a great title is half the battle. Neil Patel thinks you should spend around 40% of your time thinking up a great title for your next post, why?
- 80% of people will read your headline but only 20% will click your article to read your blog. Spending more time on your blog’s title can really improve these numbers.
- Once you know what you want to write about, getting the rest of your thoughts orgainsed and on paper (metaphorically speaking obviously) becomes so much easier. Getting the angle of your blog locked in first means the rest of the content comes so much more naturally.
When you’re trying to overcome a creative writing block, nailing your blog’s title is the best way to get the content ball rolling. In this article we’ll talk you through our step by step process for thinking up blog titles and explain how you can use this method to help you with your own writing.
Step 1. Look at your buyer persona, what do they care about?
Before you begin writing any article it’s worth reminding yourself who your buyer persona* is. What do they want and why are they interested in your product or services. Taking a step back from the creative blog writing process and aligning yourself with the wants and needs of your client will help you think of relevant and appealing titles that they’re likely to click on.
This step might not directly help you come up with a topic to write about but it’ll make sure the wording and tone you use in your title and blog post speaks to your readers and audience.
*Buyer persona is a marketing term that is used to describe your company’s dream or ideal customer. This is the person you want to target with your marketing and who you believe wants to consume your services or buy your product. There’s many different names for a buyer persona including, ideal customer, dream customer, marketing persona and audience persona. They all mean the same thing. If you don’t have a buyer persona learn how to create on here.
Step 2. Use a tool like AWRcloud or Ahrefs to review your organic rankings
Once you’ve aligned yourself with the language and tone your persona will respond well to, you need to use a digital marketing platform like AWRcloud, Ahrefs, SEMrush or Moz to review your current rankings and content strategy.
Look at what keywords your site is ranking for and review what keywords you want your site to rank for. Have any ranking keywords slipped significantly down Google since the last time you checked them? If they have, is this something that you think you need to correct (sometimes you could be ranking for keywords you’re not bothered about)? What keyword clusters aren’t you ranking for yet? Is it time to work on these?
These are all questions you should be asking yourself when you look at your organic rankings. You should also be thinking what piece of content will give me my biggest return on investment (ROI) if I write it.
For example, you run a busy bar in Central Manchester. You notice that your website is ranking for the keyword “how to make an amaretto sour” but it’s position has dropped 10 places from 5th on Google to 15th since you last checked your rankings. While this might look quite alarming to you at first, digging a bit deeper into the analytics show you that in the UK that keyword gets 90 searches a month.
This means that the value of ranking for that keyword isn’t a lot in the grand scheme of things.
You’re also ranking for the keyword “bars in Manchester” too. That ranking has stayed consistent and you’re currently the 11th position on Google’s search engine results page (SERP). This means you’re showing up just off the first page of Google for that keyword and its monthly search volume is 1.9K searches per month!
Spending some time writing content that will boost that keyword onto the first page of Google could significantly increase the number of organic visitors you get to your site per month. This would, therefore, be a wise thing to spend your time on if you’re deliberating on which piece of content to write.
It can also help you start putting your blog title together. You now know you want to produce a piece of content that will help your website be found for the “bars in Manchester in keyword”. A few article ideas we could come up with just from doing this step could be:
- 5 of the best bars in Manchester
- What makes bars in Manchester a great place to catch up with friends?
- Bars in Manchester: the good, the bad and the ugly
- The best bars in Manchester to watch the derby
- The best bars in Manchester for a pint before a gig
All of the above are completely serviceable titles that would go some way in helping you improve your keyword rankings but they don’t exactly set the world on fire. They’re quite run of the mill blogs that you’d see a lot of digital marketing teams and agencies churn out when they’re running low on ideas. In the next steps of this article we’ll look at how we can jazz up these titles so you can come up with more compelling article ideas.
Step 3. Review your keywords strategy
Your business should have a keyword strategy document that your digital marketing team can refer to when they’re thinking about blogs to write. When we start working with a new client at Forever we spend a lot of time creating and analysing a client’s customer base and we then make a Google Sheet which has all the content clusters and keywords we think a client should be ranking for.
Don’t have a keyword strategy document? Stop what you’re doing and make one now. Use this article as a guide: How to create a keyword strategy for SEO
This sheet will list all the low volume, high intent, long tail keywords we think a site should be competing for and it will group them together in clusters that help support the broader, higher volume keywords you want to rank for, like “bars in Manchester”.
Reviewing your keyword strategy document after looking at your rankings will let you know which long tail keywords it’d be good to write about. Producing an article based on these longer keywords and then linking that article back to the content or page that’s ranking for the search term “bars in Manchester” is a better way to help boost its rankings than simply writing multiple articles all focusing on the keyword “bars in Manchester”.
Why can’t you just write lots of articles focusing on “bar in Manchester”?
It’s bad practice to have multiple blogs or pages on your site that are trying to rank for the same keyword. It confuses Google as the algorithm doesn’t know which is the best page on your site to show a searcher. This can lead to Google passing over your site for another one which has one page for each keyword it’s targeting.
If we use Ahrefs again we can set the keyword search volume to less than 100 searches per month and this will give us a list of relevant, long tail keywords we can then use to write a blog that’ll help improve whichever piece of content is ranking for “bars in Manchester”.
We now have some more niche keywords to use as the basis of our blog ideas and these keywords will still help our “bars in Manchester” keyword rank. Focusing on these smaller volumes, more specific keywords will make your article more interesting and relevant to the searcher.
Some blog titles we could write about after looking at our long tail keywords are:
- 5 quiet bars in Manchester for enjoying a drink with friends
- Quiet bars in Manchester: the best cosy pubs for curling up with a pint and a book
- 4 bars in Manchester Piccadilly which are great for people watching
- 40 of the best bars in Manchester for over 40s
- What bars are open in Manchester on Christmas day
- 80s bars in Manchester: 4 must go to venues if you want some acid house
We can already see how reviewing our organic rankings and looking at our keyword strategy can result in more interesting and impactful blog ideas that help solve a searcher’s query.
This is much better than simply looking at what your keyword rankings are doing and then writing more content aimed directly at trying to improve whatever you feel needs tweaking.
Basically, nobody wants to read a blog which is just title after title of “bars in Manchester”.
There is still more we can do to improve these titles and blog ideas. The next thing it’s worth doing is checking out what your competitors are up to.
Step 4. Look at what’s currently ranking on Google. What are your competitors writing about?
Now that you’ve got a good idea of what keyword you want to base your article around it’s time to check out the competition and see what’s ranking at the top of the Google rankings. This step has two main goals:
- It’ll provide you with angles and ideas that you might not have thought of.
- It will let you know what content competitors are having success with and what you’ll need to do to beat them in the rankings.
Google’s most important mission is to serve users with relevant content and answer their queries. The more information-packed and insightful a blog post is the more likely Google is to rank it highly and show it to searchers. This is why listicles are such a popular blog format. They’re designed to offer lots of information quickly and easily.
This means if you Google the keyword “quiet bars in Manchester” and you see a competitor on the first page of Google with a blog “7 quiet bars in Manchester to enjoy beers with friends” you’ll need to pump up your listicles numbers to top that.
Checking out your competition also gives you an insight into what angles and topics have already been covered. You don’t want to write an article that’s saying exactly the same thing as every other blog on page 1 of Google. If you do that you’re just adding to the noise and leaving it to chance whether someone actually clicks on your post.
We can use Ahrefs (or any other digital marketing platform) to view all the search results on the first page of Google and review them to see what new angles we could write about. Below we can see the first 5 results on the first page of Google using Ahrefs.
By the way, if you don’t have access to any digital marketing software like Ahrefs you can just search your keyword on Google the old school way. This will return exactly the same results as the ones above but you won’t get the extra data and analytics that come with a marketing software.
We like to do both. It’s really useful to see how people will view your article on Google. You can look at where competitors are placing their keyword in their blog title. How long, on average are the titles and what trends are there that you can spot which you could break or exploit.
After reviewing the rankings we can see that a lot of the highest results are from forums and travel sites like Reddit, Yelp, Trip advisor and design my night. A lot of the titles are very similar and are just a variation on the basic question “Where are some nice quiet bars in Manchester”.
Some articles have chosen to lean on a football free angle and a few others are sharing their favourite “hidden” or “secret” bars. We should probably avoid these angles as we want our blog post to be eye-catching and unique. We don’t want to compete with another post saying the same thing.
We can also see that a lot of the results on the first page of Google come from high authority websites. That means Google trusts these sites a lot because they have lots of monthly visitors and lots of links pointing to them. This will make ranking higher quite difficult but by no means impossible.
As we mentioned before Google values articles that answer a searcher’s query and provides them with relevant, accurate and in-depth information. Any article we write about “quiet bars in Manchester” must provide more value, recommendations and details than what’s currently ranking at the top of Google. With that in mind we could use the following blog titles:
- The definitive guide to quiet bars in Manchester: 50 pubs where you can take a break from the world
- 20 quiet bars in Manchester for students during exam season
- Quiet bars in Manchester: a history of low-key pubs from the Victoirans to now
- 10 quiet bars in Manchester that are perfect for a mid-week pint
- No music, no mither: 15 quiet bars in Manchester great for a date
- Turn it down! 15 quiet bars in Manchester perfect for a catch up with friends
- Your new Sunday boozer is closer than you think: 15 quiet bars in Manchester perfect for Sunday pints
- Date pubs: quiet bars in Manchester that are great for a date
The above examples either provide more information on the topic of “quiet bars in Manchester” or use an angle like date pubs, or study pubs that haven’t been mentioned yet in the results. Some of the strongest titles above combine the two “20 quiet bars in Manchester for students during exam season” is a good example of this.
We can see how these titles are even more appealing to searchers’ and demonstrates to them the value they offer. If you chose not to look at the current ranking articles on Google and blog you write could be way off the mark in terms of what searchers are looking for. The things that are ranking at the top of Google are there for a reason. It’s because that’s what Google has determined what people want to see.
Once you’ve found your long tail keyword make sure you do a quick Google search to get more inspiration for your title and a greater understanding of what you’ll need to do to beat your competition.
We’re almost done now, there’s just one more step to go. But before we get to step 5 here’s a bonus tip.
Bonus step: Use Google News to help think up great blog titles
Google News (GN) is a criminally underused tool in a digital marketers arsenal. It can really help digital marketers find interesting angles to use when they’re thinking up blog titles. It can also help you find resources and articles to use for research purposes when writing your blogs.
Google News won’t be useful for every blog article or business. In a nutshell it takes the query you’ve searched and will show you all the relevant news sources related to that keyword.
So, for a keyword like “quiet bars in Manchester” GN won’t return anything very compelling or even relevant we could use to base an article on.
Google News really comes into its own when you’re a B2B company and you want your blog to stay abreast of industry trends and insights. Finding interesting, newsworthy angles you can combine with your keyword strategy can make your blog a trustworthy resource that will stand out on the SERP.
Google News may not be relevant for every business but if you want to be an industry leader and new source in your sector using this resource is a great way to position yourself as a thought leader in your sector and think up great blog titles and article angles.
Step 5. Make your title even more alluring with the “curiosity + value” one two punch
Now you’ve got an interesting title that clearly conveys your blog’s value to a searcher. All you need to do now is add an extra bit of flair that’ll make your post a must click on article.
There are many ways you can structure a blog title to appeal to viewers. We think one of the strongest formats is: curiosity + benefit.
Structuring a post this way grabs a searcher’s attention with an intriguing curiosity hook and then explains to them what they’ll get out of reading your article. We’ll break down the two parts of this title structure below:
This should come before your benefit and it’s primary goal is to make the searcher stop scrolling. You don’t need to lay it on thick with curiosity and this section can be as short as two words. The best way to arouse a researcher’s curiosity is by either speaking directly to the problem they’re having or posing an open question they’ll want to know the answer too.
We can use some of the blog titles we mentioned in step 4 of this article to highlight what good curiosity looks like. Take the below title for example.
Your new Sunday boozer is closer than you think: 15 quiet bars in Manchester perfect for Sunday pints
If a searcher is looking for some suggestions for some quiet bars in Manchester and the SERP is full of generic lists the “Your new Sunday boozer is closer than you think” part of this title will really stand out and grab their attention.
Is it? Where is it? How far away is it? All these questions will race through their mind and when you compare it to an article titled “Our top 10 quiet bars in Manchester” you can see how it entices searchers to explore your content.
After the curiosity hook comes the benefit, what will the reader get out of reading your article? What new knowledge will they obtain and how might they use it to improve their lives. In this case the second part of the title:
15 quiet bars in Manchester perfect for Sunday pints
Who doesn’t love Sunday pints? Pubs are busy on Sundays so having a variety of options is always wise if you want to avoid being turned away from every. You’re also fulfilling the searcher intent by specifying quiet bars which is a benefit in itself.
Combining curiosity + benefit is an easy formula to follow to add an extra bit of razzle dazzle to your blog titles. Creating an attention grabbing hook for your article and compelling reason to read it can take some practice but once you nail it you’ll find other, run-of-the-mill posts drab and lifeless in comparison.
Bonus tip: speak directly to your searcher and grab their attention
As we’ve already mentioned in this section there’s more than one formula for creating a clickable blog title. There are 100s of different styles and approaches to crafting a compelling article title and another format we like to use is attention + benefit.
The benefit part of the format is the same as curiosity + benefit but adding an attention element instead of a curiosity one changes the tone and style of the article. Both approaches ultimately have the same goal, get a searcher to click on your blog but they go about it in slightly different ways. Let’s look at this attention + benefit blog title below:
Turn it down! 15 quiet bars in Manchester perfect for a catch up with friends
If a searcher is looking for some suggestions for some quiet bars in Manchester and the SERP is full of generic listicles the “Turn it down!” part of this title will likely pop out at them.
This is how they feel when they’re in a noisy bar. You’ve grabbed their attention by showing them you feel how they feel. You’ve spoken directly to the problem they’re having in a way they’re likely to communicate their grievances at a noisy bar.
You know that your searcher is looking for a quiet bar. You’ve optimised your blog to make sure they see it. So by speaking to their issues in the language they’d use you are empathising with them and getting their attention.
“Whoever wrote this blog really knows how I feel. They want to help me and not just churn out some generic in-bound marketing blog”
This could be the internal monologue of someone who sees that blog title in the SERP. By getting your readers attention this way you can build an affinity and trust with them which will compel them to click on your title.
Attention and curiosity based blog titles will make the tone of your blogs slightly different. If you choose to use an attention grabbing title you need to make sure your blog copy is zippy, engaging and pays off any promises you’ve made in the blog title quickly. You can lose a reader’s attention as quickly as you gain it so make sure you answer your searchers’ query quickly if you use an attention grabbing blog title.
If you use curiosity the same applies but you have more room to string readers along in your blog copy with more open questions and suspense filled writing. You can tease the answers to questions at the start of your blog. You’ll pay off at the end and generally take a more light-hearted, cheeky tone.
Both styles or blog titles are equally valid and which you choose (if you choose any) is up to you. Just make sure whatever style and tone you pick gets continued right through your blog and isn’t just on in your title.
We’ve covered a lot in this article so in this section we’ll quickly summerise the key takeaways and condense the 5 step process into a few sentences.
If you’re struggling to think of a compelling blog title for your next article follow these steps to come up with an engaging title and angle for your post
Step 1. Review your company’s marking persona and align yourself with the language, tone, problems and issues your ideal customer will respond to.
Step 2. Review your current organic rankings and see where there’s an opportunity to improve your presence on the SERP using keyword optimised SEO content.
Step 3. Take a broad keyword or topic you want to focus on and look at your internal keyword strategy document. Find a long tail keyword that’s relevant to your overarching topic and select a keyword that you haven’t written about before.
Step 4. Search your long tail keyword in Google to see what your competitors are writing about and what angles they’re using. Use this as research to inform your own blog title. What trends can you exploit or disrupt? What value can you give to searchers that no other article is providing? Use this research to craft a more compelling title.
Step 5. Jazz up your blog title with a curiosity or attention grabbing hook to help it convert viewers into readers.
Do you need help with your content and keyword strategies?
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