The information age has given rise to a whole new industry within the field of writing. Unfortunately, there are plenty of would-be writers who have managed to get their foot in the professional door simply because they can string words together and form sentences. The thought among many of these individuals is that “anybody can write.” That’s true to a certain extent. But the real question is, can anyone write material good enough to compel people to read?
Compelling people to read is a skill that separates good writers from the rest of the pack. Nowhere is that more evident than in the proper use of titles. The title is the first thing a reader will see. It’s also the thing that will make him decide whether or not to continue reading. A good title should do one or more of the following:
- spark some curiosity
- arouse controversy
- stir the imagination
- shock or inspire
- cause the reader to chuckle
Fishing With Titles
Think of your article title as the bait used when fishing. You must throw something out there that large numbers of people will see in passing, but
which will cause your intended audience to further investigate. In other words, your title is designed to get readers to nibble at the first sentence or two before swallowing the hook. A good title should be short enough to get the point across without being obscure.
Titling is especially important if you’re writing web copy. It’s a good idea to use keywords in your title whenever possible, but only if you can do so in a natural and grammatically correct sort of way. Let’s face it-sometimes it’s difficult to effectively use keywords in the title. When you find that to be the case, don’t force it. Nothing will turn off your audience quicker than a contrived title that doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Honesty in Your Titles
Keeping in mind the five things mentioned above regarding the reaction you want to provoke, always be honest with your titles. While it’s true you could use some very shocking text in order to hook your readers, you’ll have a hard time gaining loyal followers if your titles are dishonest. And any followers you do gain will not stick around long if you continue the practice. Always make your titles relevant to the content and intellectually honest.