How can I write effective titles and opening paragraphs?

I’ve got a really interesting question from Rachel today. The question says here that I’m challenged by titles and making engaging opening paragraphs for blog articles. I know you’ve helped me on the Facebook group, but other than copy this, how can I change it into my own words or think outside the box and do it for future blogs?

What Rachel’s saying is she’s struggling with coming up with engaging titles to get traffic to her website, and she’s struggling with the opening paragraphs and answering the questions.

Basically there are three or four parts to this. The first thing to think about is if you’re writing a title that sounds okay, e.g. top five tips for something, but it’s not something that someone would search for and not something that Google would know what it was really about.

Think about what people are going to search for, what are they going to put into Google to find the solution to their problem? Make sure your title has the keyword phrase in it that you want and it can be structured like a question.

Spend a bit of time on your headlines, it’s really important, and it’s a really weak area when it comes to blog article writing for pretty much most companies, so you’re not alone on that one.

When it comes to your opening paragraph, if you’re answering a question, make sure that the question is in the first paragraph. For example, someone might say to me, how much does it cost to hire a removal company? The title of the blog article would be, how much does it cost to hire a removal company, and in the first paragraph it would say something like, we’ve been a removals company for a long time, and add in something about expertise or credibility, and that you get asked this question all the time.

In the article highlight all the reasons why a removals company could cost x, y and z and try and explain it a little bit. You’re trying to repeat the question in the first paragraph, get some expertise in there, explain that you have the authority to answer the question, and add some empathy in there as well. For example, if it was the same article, how much does it cost for a removals company, we would say something like, one of the questions we get asked all the time is, how much does it cost for a removals company?

Luckily for you, we’ve been in the business for a long time, so we’ve done lots and lots of jobs and know exactly what impacts the price of a removal. We know that in this economic age you’re looking to save money and you don’t want to be unnecessarily paying for things you don’t have to, so in this article I’m going to outline the eight different aspects that would impact the price of a removal.

Your title is repeated in the first paragraph which includes things like expertise and empathy. You think, these guys know what they’re talking about, but also they understand my problem as well.

The other thing I would say as well is that there’s another big weakness and challenge for people in the title structure, the opening paragraphs and then there’s this need to want to just answer the question. Really you’re not answering the question just by answering the question, you need to understand what the problem is, and then solve that, so for example, coming back to pricing article, how much does it cost for a removals company?

Instead of just saying, well, it could cost anything between this and this, here’s an example of one project, an example of another project, what we’ve done is highlight the problem, so the question is, how much does it cost, the problem is that people want to understand better what impacts the price of a removal, and they want to figure out how to save money and make it cheaper for themselves.

We’ve not just answered the question, we’ve uncovered the problems that are in there as well, the anxieties, the fears, the problems, and addressed them too. It’s not just simply answering the question, it’s recognising what the problem is, and that will give you more content to write about when you’re answering that question.

I can’t lie to you, it’s not simple and easy, other than the fact that you need to sit down and put down a dozen different titles, change the words around, type them into Google and see what they look like, and then do your opening paragraphs and flesh it out. To give you some confidence in this as well, when you publish a blog article, remember that it’s not set in stone. We regularly go back through our articles and see how they’re performing in Google first, then we’ll go back and hack them a little bit. We might change elements of the opening paragraph, maybe even move paragraphs around or even change the title or some of the headlines.

The point is it’s not set in stone. Get the content out there in the best way with the best experience you have at the moment, with the understanding that as you learn more and you develop and you see what works and what doesn’t, you can go back to your blog articles and improve them over time as well.

It’s not all lost when you publish an article. The last thing I want is for you to not publish an article because you’re afraid that your title or headline isn’t correct. Make it the best you can, and then, like you’re doing right now, ask for advice and I’m sure we’ll be able to help.

Any questions, email me, or tweet me @chrismarr101.

Don’t forget to be awesome.


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About Chris Marr

Chris is the leading voice of the growing Content Marketing movement in the UK. His pioneering work has helped countless organisations grow through content marketing. His drive comes from a desire to help people break free from the world of interruption marketing.