As a blogger, the title (also called the headline) might be the last thing you think about when you write a blog post. Maybe you’ve finally finished your post, you just want to publish it, and you write the first title you think of.

Alternatively, perhaps you do put a lot of thought into your blog post title. You want something different. Something clever, like a pun or a reference that’ll make your audience laugh.

Neither of these approaches are necessarily “wrong”. In some contexts, they could work okay (and we’ll take a look at those at the end of this post).

But in general, your blog posts need to have clear titles. 

Here’s why.

#1: Your Blog Post Title Should Let the Reader Know What They’re Getting

Most importantly, your blog post title is for your readers. It should make an implicit promise: here’s what I’m going to give you. It should be clear enough that they can decide whether or not to read your post based on the title alone.

You might think that’s a bad thing. That you want a title that’s strange or vague enough that people will click through to see your post so they can figure out what it’s all about. Because then you’ve got a chance to hook them with your great idea, right?

Sadly not. You’ve lost them already. Your title is the chance to hook them. After all, with millions of other posts they could read, why would they choose your vague or confusing one?

Here are some great, clear blog post titles from the list of blogs I read in Feedly:

Would I read all those posts? Probably not. I’m not interested in food writing jobs, for instance, so I’m going to skip that one. That’s no loss to Smart Blogger: I’ll still keep reading their posts that are relevant to me. I’m also not bothered about taking a parenting quiz: again, I can ignore that post easily but remain subscribed to A Fine Parent. I am thinking about how to get more testimonials for my products on Aliventures, however, so the Copyblogger post title has instantly caught my attention.

The point of your title is not to get as many people as possible to click through and read your post.

The point of your title is to let readers know what they’ll get from your post — and to hook those readers who will benefit from reading it.

#2: Your Blog Post Title Should Let Search Engines Send the Right People to Your Post

Some bloggers would have put this point first, saying that your title is ultimately more for search engines than for readers.

But it always pays to prioritize your readers over what you think search engines are looking for. Done right, SEO (search engine optimization) is really about making your readers’ experience better. After all, that’s what search engines want, and it’s what they’ll ultimately prioritize as they increasingly refine their algorithms.

Even so, your blog post title needs to be clear for search engines (as well as readers) to understand it.

It needs to use the sort of language that readers would use to find your post, if they were searching online.

For instance, you could write a post titled “10 Ways to Reach Equilibrium Between Your Home Life and Your Work Life” … but that would probably be better phrased as “10 Powerful Tips for Achieving Work-Life Balance”. The first title is still clear to a reader, but it’s not what they’re likely to type into Google when trying to find the type of advice you’re offering.

Do Clear Titles Always Matter?

Nope! There are plenty of bloggers who don’t write clear titles. They might use vague, short titles like “Home Again” or “Gardening” or “Spiders”. They might use titles that are literary references, like “How Sharper Than a Serpent’s Tooth…” when writing about their teenage kids.

If you’re blogging purely as a hobby, to share your thoughts with family and friends, then this is fine. People will likely read your post anyway simply because they like you (and/or they like your writing). 

Clear titles do matter if you’re trying to grow your blog. If you want to get more readers — and particularly if you’re blogging with the aim of making money — then you want titles that new and existing readers, and search engines, can easily understand.

They’re also important if you’re pitching a guest post: the blogger or editor reading your pitch email is, in a way, the first reader for your potential blog post. If your title is confusing, they’re less likely to say “yes” to seeing a draft.

Of course, as well as making your title clear, you’ll want to make it compelling. “How to Achieve Work-Life Balance” might be clear — but “10 Powerful Tips for Achieving Work-Life Balance” gives the reader much more sense of what to expect and more reason to click through.

Have you come across (or written) any great titles recently? Tell us about them in the comments below.