Content Creation

Why Are So Many Blog Post Headlines Framed as Questions?

By January 23, 2015 No Comments

The purpose of a blog post headline is to convince readers to click on the link, or to scroll down and continue reading the post. A good title grabs attention and compels your target audience to check out what you have to say.

There’s more than one way to write a great title, and it’s good to mix things up. Your headline might address a need your potential customers face, stir up controversy, or use humor to capture people’s attention.

Or…you can ask a question.

What is it about a question that entices someone to click on your blog post and read further?

Questions Create Intrigue

A question is an invitation to participate in a conversation. It immediately draws the reader in, igniting a switch from passive to active reading. Of course, it has to be something the person cares about—your target audience needs to want the answer.

If you’re writing about topics relevant to your prospects and you ask an interesting question, you’ll reach the right readers for your blog and business.

Many Search Engine Queries Are Questions

Why do people type into Google’s search bar? People search online because they want information. Sometimes they are looking for a particular person, brand, sports team, or news story. But quite often, they’re searching for an answer to a specific question. They either type in a fully formed question, or the keywords of a question. Countless searches begin with phrases such as: “How do I…” or “Why does…” or “When do…”

(As a side note—it can be illuminating to type these into your search engine and see what Google suggests to complete your query.)

Talk to your sales, service, and support teams and interview customers and prospects to find out which questions your potential customers are asking. These are the questions your blog should be answering.

What Kinds of Questions Should You Ask?

Not all questions make good titles. You should never ask a question that anyone could easily answer, because what’s the point of reading an article like that? Avoid questions that sound so far-fetched that you might lose credibility. (“Will Your New iPhone Give You Ebola?” Probably not. “Will Your New iPhone Give You a Headache?” Possibly.)

Finally, make sure you actually answer the question in your blog post. If you don’t deliver on your promise, your reader might feel tricked and frustrated.

Yes-or-No Questions

Betteridge’s Law of Headlines states that, “Any headline which ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.” The idea is that you can create a sensational headline or title by asking a yes-or-no question to which the answer is “no.”

The headline “Did Aliens Take Over Cleveland?” might get your attention, but of course you already know the answer before you start reading. After all, if the answer was “yes,” it would be dramatic enough as a declarative statement. If aliens really did come to earth and occupy Cleveland, the headline “Aliens Take Over Cleveland” would be pretty attention-grabbing on its own.

Although most readers would know the answer is “no,” by making the title a question you can generate interest. What exactly is going on in Cleveland? Why would anyone suggest that aliens have taken over the city?

Open-Ended Questions

Of course, not every question can be answered with a yes or no. Open-ended questions often make better blog post titles, mostly because these are the kinds of questions people are more likely to ask. One of the most important things your corporate blog can do is provide answers to questions that your potential customers might ask, and to give them the information they need to formulate their own opinion or make a decision.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some common questions you are often asked by customers and potential customers? Share your expertise in a blog post, and use the frequently asked question as your title.

Matter of Opinion

Some questions are truly open to debate, and you can often draw in readers with a blog post sharing your opinion on the topic. Rather than stating your opinion in the title, make the question the title and then provide your response in the post. A side benefit is that by asking the question up front, you make the topic open to debate. At the end of your post you can offer up the question to your readers and spark a lively discussion.

There are many ways to write intriguing headlines. But are questions a great way to attract new readers to your blog and entice them to read further?

There’s no question about it.

Patrick Armitage

About Patrick Armitage

Patrick Armitage is the Director of Marketing at BlogMutt—a blog writing service helping businesses and agencies get their blogging done. Follow his miscellany (@Pat_Armitage) and all things BlogMutt (@BlogMutt) on Twitter.