Scientific Results Of 23 Million Visits: Creating Clickable Titles

When it comes right down to it, the titles of your content or your posts ARE your “hooks. Titles of blog posts, articles, videos, or any kind of content that are compelling and instill curiosity or a “need to know” will get looked at. Those that don’t, will not. What kinds of titles hook readers? Keep reading for some compelling data on the subject.

People will decide to read your blog post or check out your content based on your title. Therefore, the better your titles, the more likely your content will be read. That begs the question, “what are the kinds of titles most likely to be looked at and read?”

How can you structure a title so that as many people as possible will be interested in seeing what you have?

Now you could check out any of the many various and sundry articles that people have written about the subject. The problem is that those articles in large part represent the writer’s opinion. I wanted to know from a purely factual, scientific basis what kinds of titles would get the largest percentage possible of readers.

What I did was compile data from 23,268,496 total visits to 765 different articles from 2003 up until the very recent present from http://seochat.com/ (a site focused on search engines and web marketing). So keep in mind that the site is mostly visited by people looking to learn something. I used this site because traffic numbers for every single article on their site are published and available.

Now, to make sure that older titles with an ability to have more clicks were not unduly favored, each year was segmented, and only the top 10 results from each year were looked at.

Those 10 from each year were given the same “weight,” whether a number 1 for a year or a number 10, and whether it was from 03 or from 2011.

Further, every title was looked at for elements. Thus a title that was (this is a ridiculous example title to illustrate): "6 secrets to teach how to tell Google to stick it in their rear?" That title would get the code for a Numbered list, “secrets,” How To, and Question.

All of the top 10s were put together onto a spreadsheet, and each item in the legend put across; if it had that item in the title, then it got a 1 in that cell.

In the end, the titles that were the “most clickable” were:

•Titles that either had “How to” or “Tips” absolutely crushed almost everything else.

•Titles that promised some kind of specific and tangible benefit came in second.

•Titles that included “strategies,” “secrets,” “methods," or “insider,” or “myths” came in third.

•Titles that said they would give a specific amount of information (4 ways to…) came in next.

•Finally, articles that right in the title targeted the information as either for beginners (stating either beginner, or 101, or something like that) or for advanced users — meaning the title was targeted at a specific skill level — came in fifth.

Below those five, it almost isn’t even worth talking about any of the others. And honestly, the first two so overwhelmingly beat the others as to be surprising.

I really did feel (clearly erroneously) that titles that ended up being distantly third and fourth would have been first and second; and when you look at the chart, you’ll see just how much the first two beat the others.

Do you want a title for your content that people will click on? Well if you’re like me, you just might be titling your material wrong. Consider titles that fit the first two categories in the graph.


A=How-to/Tips/explanation
B=Promise of benefit
C=Controversy or avoidance
D= Strategies, tricks, insider, myths, secrets
F= X ways to
H= Reviews
O= Beginners or Advanced
P= Humor
R= News
S= FAQ or Questions Answered

Now keep in mind that SEO Chat is a “how to” sort of site, so of course those kinds of titles did better.  However, titles that promised some kind of tangible benefit, followed by titles that included the words strategies, or methods, tricks, insider, myths, or secrets did very well also.

This starts to give you a pretty good idea of how to structure a highly clickable title.

Using SEO Chat again, the title, “Insider Secrets Explain How To Get #1 Google Rankings”  includes “insider,” “secrets,” “how to,” and promises a specific benefit.

If you would like to see the actual raw data, I have it available on Google Docs.

For more of my work, please check out http://www.mattgoffrey.blogspot.com/.

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