What’s in a name?


I am not a blogger. Nor am I much of a blog-reader. Up until this week, my experience of blogs was limited to clicking through to friends’ blogs which appeared in my Facebook newsfeed (mostly out of politeness) or ending up at a blog by chance when I was reading some other form of web media. As I started to explore the wonderful world of blogging for this week’s assignment, I started think about what attracted me to some blogs and not others. I came to the decision that one of the most vital tools to attract recalcitrant users such as myself, is the actual name of the blog. And what kind of names work? I have identified 5 different categories that work to attract users in very different ways.


Top 5 categories of catchy blog names:

1) Explicit or self-explanatory

…….I don’ t mean X-rated here, rather that the name gives the user all the things they need to know to judge whether it is of use to them or not. In it’s simplest form these have geographical, individual, demographic etc identifiers which explain their relevance. An example here is one of the few blogs that I do visit regularly, 510Families.


As I am sure you have guessed, this is a resource for people who live in area code 510, who have families.


2) Existing brand names

These are names of blogs where the hard work has already been done by an existing brand or organization name. From my forays into the healthcare blogs on WordPress.com, the most obvious of these was news@JAMA.



Any healthcare professional will already know what JAMA is and how their blog may be relevant.


3) Idealogical

In order to lure readers into your blog, you can title it with a name that shows your idealogical views on the subject you are writing about. This has the advantage (or disadvantage) of attracting readers who feel strongly either way about the issue. My example to illustrate this category is Amanda’s blog about vaccination, which is entitled The Vaccine Advocate.


4) Clever or funny

For personal blogs, this seems to be the most popular type of name to choose. One that is inherently amusing, or just a play on words. When these are really good they develop into their own brand name, such as Jezebel or Lifehacker.

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5) Just plain odd

The final category are those names that are entirely incongruous and attract readers just because they want to click through and see what on earth the blog is actually about. I think this is a dangerous category as it can fail spectacularly and these names are often easily forgotten. My example here is the new Global Health blog from NPR which was launched this week, under the name of Goats and Soda. Their entire first post was dedicated to a complicated explanation of the name and how it was relevant to Global Health. I think it is a good advice that if it takes more than 500 words to explain the name of your blog, then you may want to rethink your strategy!


9 thoughts on “What’s in a name?

  1. I guess it is like anything else in American/western media; you gotta get their attention. I think you did a very nice job of categorizing the different strategies and I think I will follow the Goats and Soda for a few weeks.

  2. I love this post, your fifth point is one for me. One of the blogs I posted about in our spreadsheet this week was NaNoWriMo. I have to admit that I wouldn’t have even looked at it had it been called National Novel Writing Month, but once I saw it I was totally captivated. Great points!

  3. Great post. I relied entirely on the names of the blogs (and their categories) when selecting some blogs to follow this week. Though I must admit that there were a few times I was intrigued by the name, but then turned off by the page once I had landed on it. A title is key, but I do think you need some other components to keep the reader’s interest.

  4. You have pointed out a really important key to getting attention for one’s message, whatever the medium being used. Since we compete with so many other sources of information, we have to constantly think about what makes our message stand out. This is of course, only the beginning. How we get people to act on what they read is a whole other conversation!

  5. Nicely done Rachel, I love your list. I might like the “Just Plain Odd” strategy a little more than you though. It’s hard to think of why some of the greatest websites are really named why they are; for example, Google, eBay, Etsy. But we sure as heck know who they are now. I also think it’s interesting that the “Goats and Soda” blog actual state they tried to Google that beforehand and nothing came back. That’s one way to definitely get SEO on your side from a branded keyword search perspective. I probably should’ve added it in my SEO blog post. 🙂 https://ihealthcomms.wordpress.com/2014/07/14/the-truth-about-seo/

  6. Great post, Rachel. As always, succinct and spot on with your observations. So far, the blogs I’ve read are those only from friends who are updating me about their travels. I’ve never followed blogs otherwise, mostly because they seem to be some lame person’s ideas about things. Truth is, I just can’t find time to give to blogs. How do others do it??

  7. Rachel,
    Great job on bringing my attention to the most important part of blogging, personally, I will not click on a blog if the name/title does not appeal to me or it is something boring or repetitive. Most readers will leave or decide to read the blog depending on how interesting and catchy the name is.

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