Sex it up: Alluring titles and other readership boosters

We have a leader board in my office to show our “expert blog” hits on Since I’m the newest member of the team my ranking is sadly at the bottom. I decided to stir things up this month by writing Sex After Deployment: Tips for heating things up (please forgive the capitalized preposition). In my defense, sexual dysfunction is a serious problem for returning combat veterans. But, yeah, I mostly wanted the hits.

So, how important are playful/sexy/witty titles? Of course there’s not one standard rule-of-thumb. It all depends on the type of media. Consider both the home of the work and the ways users find it.

Alluring and sexy graphic

1) Journal articles.

Peer-reviewed journal articles don’t need splashy titles. Few readers surf through the Journal of Infectious Diseases and Immunity just looking for a snappy read. Most likely readers find these works through academic search engines like EBSCO Host. As such, the focus should be on writing the clearest title possible, including the most likely search terms. I recommend using a subtitle if it helps you fit in additional search terms. For example, this title includes both “measure” and “scale development.”

“A new measure of [insert paradigm]: scale development of the [insert scale name].”

2) Conference presentations.

Go ahead and sex it up, as long as the title clearly explains the topic. During the opening plenary session, conference attendees will pick through the itinerary looking for topics that will either serve their work or maintain their interest.

3) Poster presentations.

Eh. No one cares. Do whatever you want.

4) Informal writing (blog posts and other writing for the Internet).

Well, as I write this, my sexy blog post on has had 223 views (helping me maintain my low status). Writing for the Internet relies heavily on both social marketing (i.e., Facebook likes) and search engine optimization (SEO). The title of your piece is critical. Utilize effective search terms and try to tease the reader. However, accompanying graphics are likely more significant for boosts on Facebook (see Figure 1).

What tips can you share? Did you only click on this to see more stick-figure-pornography?