White paper titles may well be the most important component of your white paper, because it determines whether the audience you wish to reach will actually read it. We’re all increasingly busy these days, and we have little patience for the items competing for our time. When we glance at a social media feed or a search engine’s results, we do little more than take a quick look to determine if anything intrigues us enough to warrant a longer look. If it doesn’t, we move on to something else. It’s like that old saying that you never get a second chance to make a first impression … if you don’t make that immediate impression with a potential reader, you’ll lose out.

White paper titles must capture interest

The white paper titles you use must draw the reader in by providing something that’s interesting and intriguing. They should be written to your reader’s experience and knowledge levels. For example you probably wouldn’t use the same title when trying to reach accounting clerks as you would when talking to CPAs. One thing that can help is to make sure your titles appeal to the reader’s emotions. While white papers are intended to convey facts, people act more frequently on the basis of their emotional responses.

White paper titles and SEO

Having the right white paper titles can also improve your performance with search engines. That’s why it’s a good idea to test your titles to see how search engines are likely to respond to them. Some blogging platforms allow you to test sample headlines to see how well they can be expected to catch the attention of search engines and testing your white paper titles that way can be helpful.

White paper titles and keywords

Including keywords in the title will make it easier for potential readers to find your white paper, because search engines will look for those keywords. However, be careful that using keywords doesn’t make your title difficult to read. Often, forcing a keyword into a white paper title can make it sound like it’s a bad translation of a foreign-language document. Also try to avoid stuffing multiple keywords into a single white paper title.

White paper titles are generally serious

When writing brochures and ads, companies often try to become creative and clever, but that can be counterproductive with white paper titles. The most effective white paper titles are serious and straightforward. In a product brochure, you might use a headline such as “Process three times as many radishes with our veeblefetzers,” but something that promotional won’t appeal to someone looking for objective information. Titles such as “Evaluating processing alternatives for radish production” or “Cross-cutting and spiral-coring: an engineering comparison” will suggest that your white paper offers a more balanced approach.

White paper titles shouldn’t be lengthy

It’s generally a good idea to keep white paper titles no longer than 10 words. If your topic demands a longer title, one approach is to use a shorter statement with a colon and then a more descriptive phrase, such as “Better radish production: how spiral coring approaches boost profitability.”

White paper titles should not be promotional

When creating white paper titles, it’s tempting to include your company’s name or to mention your product or service by name. However, that can interfere with the perception that your white paper offers a balanced look at the topic. Similarly, avoid the use of slogans or marketing taglines within the title. It’s okay to have them appear at the bottom of the page but weaving them into your title can impair your credibility. Remember that readers are looking for sound information and not a marketing pitch that’s full of hype.

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