You Have 1 Second to Hook a Potential Reader

If you are blogging with your students, you have been exposed to them. You have been exposed to hundreds of unimaginative, cloned, generic and uninspiring BLOG TITLES.

When opening your RSS reader that contains the latest blog posts of your students,  you are confronted with a list, similar to the one below.

blogging-titles

How do we help students write better blog post titles?

1. Make them AWARE of the importance of a title

We live in a hyperlinked world. No matter if you are trying to drive traffic to your blog via email and include a link, an RSS feed, where you compete with hundreds of other subscriptions or entice someone to follow your link on Twitter. You have 1 second or less to hook potential readers and make them want to click on your title to read your content.

Although the content of your blog is the most important component of your blog, if the title isn’t up to par, you will not get the audience the content deserves.

It is the title’s job to make a potential reader a reader.

title-content

2. Take a look at a variety of good and bad.   

After making students aware of their unimaginative blog titles, titles seemed to improve for our sixth graders below.

blogging-titles3

blogging-titles4

blogging-titles5

blogging-titles6

The Hub Spot Blog Topic Generator, might come in handy to discuss with your students the algorithm behind the generator and what are  considered common features of a “good topic/title”.

blog-title-generator

Notice the features that are included in the following titles, after I entered: global, experiences, poetry into the generator:

  • questions
  • appealing to reader’s curiosity
  • numbers
  • lists
  • vocabulary such as “ultimate”, “everyone”, “should be”
  • attention grabbing
  • controversial ( cheat sheet)

blog-title-generator2

3. Practice, model,  practice, model, practice writing good titles

Visible Thinking Routines

One of the Visible Thinking Routines from Project Zero is actually called Headlines. Embed this VTR into your daily routine with students to model and to practice  “summarizing and capturing the essence of an event, idea, concept, topic, etc.”

Twitter

Writing tweets (in analog form, classroom Twitter account or individual student accounts for older students) are a wonderful example of headlines (they have to stand on their own and can entice the reader to click on a link or react to a statement to join a conversation) and help practice “summarizing and capturing the essence” of  learning moments as you are connecting to an authentic audience.

Visual Titles

A great exercise for your students, could be to make their title visual. Have your students go through the exercise of creating a visual title by using Quozio  or Haiku Deck for example. Students enter their title and then they can customize the title (background, font, etc.)  to be downloaded as an image. Why not present students’ images to the class and put them up for a vote among them “Which one would you click on?”

Quozio

You-have-1-Second-to
Created with Quozio
blog-title-hook
created with Haiku Deck

Tips & Advice:

Pamela Vaughan suggests in 6 Characteristics of Exceptional Blog Titles

  • Actionable
  • Brief
  • Keyword-Conscious
  • Clear
  • Definitive
  • Intriguing

On the SkyWord Blog,  6 Best Practices for How to Get that Click are suggested:

  1. Teasers
  2. Instructions
  3. “Threats”
  4. Lists
  5. Engagement
  6. Secrets

While students might not have a choice always of what they are writing about (ex. if the assignment can be written as a list) , these recommendations could be tweaked.

Kevan Lee, author of the blog Buffer suggested some headline tips (supported by data from  seven key commonalities)

  1. Make the most of current events: Tie your headline to news and newsmakers
  2. Break some “rules” of headline writing, like length
  3. Seek to pique the reader’s curiosity
  4. Never underestimate the emotional factor of a headline
  5. Call the reader to action with direct action words
  6. Make bold claims
  7. Sound like a human, not a robot

How are you helping students write better blog post titles? How do you incorporate the idea of connecting and “hooking” an authentic audiences? Please share your experiences and resources with us.

2 thoughts on “You Have 1 Second to Hook a Potential Reader”

  1. Thanks so much for this post. It is so practical and my class and I will be using it and thinking critically about how we can use your suggestions to encourage more engagement with our blog.

    I must admit, I was skeptical about how Hubspot would work so I tried it with these terms Spanish+ Class+ Learning and every suggestion was fantastic. I’m sold!

    Thanks for your help!

  2. This is definitely a strong aspect to consider when blogging, posting in social media or more. I know that I have 2 seconds to engage a reader in FB and if they skip my post, I will not be in their feed-stream next time. Then, communication is off, so posting is useless. My thinking here is that we need to know our audience (students, parents, or any other target) to know what engages them. So FEEDBACK and INTERACTION are determining quality in a blog?…

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