The one thing every study of online habits shows is that nobody has any time. I don't have the time to comprehend that your post titled with a reference to Dante's Inferno is really about how to toilet train a cat. If your post is the top five things you wished you knew before you made buttercream frosting then don't use a post title that is more about your cleverness as a writer than about what I'm about to read.
Over the weekend I stumbled upon a post I read last March (linked above) and it ended up helping me quite a bit. When my students ask me about blogging, my advice is always to just start one; write something, anything, because no one is going to read it in the beginning anyway. It takes time to build readers and a following which is great because that gives you time to improve. I've written over 300 posts now and I looked back this morning at some of the post titles. They were better than I thought they would be and I credit that to close study of blogging master Seth Godin, but prior March of last year when I'd read Andy's post about obvious titles, I found some bad ones.
- Realtors, like gym shower heads? - This was a post about a Realtors personal standards and I linked to the post that triggered my thoughts but you'd never know by the title. Oops.
- Will you be a Johnny today? - This was a motivational video recommended by Zig Ziglar, but how would you ever know that. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
- I have perfect feet - OMG, I hate this post! I was tempted to just delete it but we might as well learn from it. I don't think I did a good job at making my point but regardless, the title was awful! Basically it served to get me lots of Google search traffic for the term "perfect feet"! Really, I should show you my control panel - you'd be shocked how many people search for that on a daily basis!
Anyway, I could go on but that's just a sample of the sucky titles I wrote before reading Andy's post and it's clear I had some room to improve. The other day I tweeted about blog post titles and status updates on social networks. Thanks in large part to texting and Twitter, we're living in a world where attention spans have been reduced to 140 characters so you'd better use them well to capture attention if you ever hope to have your blog posts read in full. Being clever is fun. Leaving the standard, auto-filled "Check out my new blog post" in place when sending your posts to your social networks is easy. Neither are going to help you get attention or search traffic. Be obvious, be clear, then entertain me in the body of your post. Have you seen any sucky, or really good blog post titles? Please leave them in the comments!