John started a blog to support his lifestyle business. He wrote and published 3 high-quality articles every week. He made sure his articles were comprehensive and add value to his target audience.
His efforts were soon rewarded. One article got ranked in the top 3 Google spots for a competitive industry keyword (having 3000 searches/month). He rejoices.
His celebrations were short lived.
The post received fewer than 100 visitors from Google in a week. John was confused why searchers weren’t clicking on his post in the search results.
Can you relate to John’s story?
I hear you.
8 out of 10 readers only read the headline; a measly 2 go on to read the article (on average).
Well-researched high-quality content is only the starting point. A lip-smackingly delicious headline is essential to make your posts perform to their potential.
Don’t be the blogger that writes awesome content with sloppy headlines.
You should spend a considerable amount of time in creating a winning headline for every post.
Here are some easy to implement strategies to give your headlines a boost.
Do not make a statement; leave an unanswered question instead
The brain stimulates on seeing a question mark. And being provocative furthers the reader’s curiosity.
So, engage the reader from the onset by asking something (challenging) that they would love to know.
- Are you making any of these 3 generic mistakes that cripple startups?
- When was the last time you crossed everything from your to do list in 8 hours?
- How do I know which social media platforms are right for promoting my blog?
Speak in your audience’s language
The best way to catch the attention of your audience is not by using professional and official sounding language.
Instead you should focus on using words that will resonate with them.
Aim to build a warm and down-to-earth brand image. Writing in a conversational tone and using simple language will help you achieve that.
Hang out on Quora and industry/niche forums
Quora and other industry specific forums will show you keywords your audience is searching for which you may otherwise have missed.
For example, Google Keyword Planner does not show any results for the keyword “billion dollar startup.”
But on browsing the startups section at Quora, I found it is a popular term among startup enthusiasts. Over a dozen questions include this keyword.
Should you use keywords in your posts?
Using keywords in your headline is a good idea, but only if it benefits your audience.
Use it logically in your post heading and/or sub-headings but avoid using it just to please search engines.
Use BuzzFeed, Amazon and BuzzSumo to research title ideas
Buzzfeed manipulates slow and fast thinking to win over the internet.
Check out the homepages of BuzzFeed, Upworthy and Viral Nova to give you potential headline ideas.
Here are two templates from Buzzfeed you can use:
- [Event]. You won’t believe what happens next!
- Use These 20 Simple Hacks for more __. #__ is awesome!
Remember to deliver on the promises you make in the headline. Or, be ready to draw some flak from your readers.
Note: while these types of headlines can definitely get more eye-balls on your content, consider whether they are a good fit for your brand.
Make use of the treasure at Amazon
A best-selling product with poor headline is a rarity. Study the titles and descriptions of the eBooks and bestselling novels in your niche at Amazon.
You will find intriguing titles for many topics.
The classic How-to headline was used in the best-selling book – “How to win friends and influence people.”
A headline plays a significant role in an article’s virality on social media.
Using BuzzSumo, you can find the posts that have the most social shares. Just type relevant niche keywords or post subject.
Carefully study the number of characters, adjectives, modifiers, numbers, etc. in the title of the top 5 performing articles.
Then work these characteristics into your own headline and see how it performs.
Here’s an example based on the topic of content marketing:
10 content marketing myths to drop in 2015
Use how-to and listicle style titles
An age-old copywriting adage is:
Features tell, benefits sell.
Do not trick or oversell. Simply state how your blog post/article is going to help the reader. Then (over) deliver on your promise.
‘How to’ posts work because they focus on being useful to the reader. List posts also work because they directly promise value to the reader in specific quantifiable terms.
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- How to craft titles for your novel that entice the reader
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- 5 simple tips to make your customers love you
Use smart tools to help you improve your headlines
The Headline Analyzer is a tool by CoSchedule that analyzes the adjectives, power and emotional words in your headlines.
It gives a grade, score and feedback on the changes you can make in your headline to improve its attention grabbing ability.
Here is an analysis of this article’s headline “5 insanely easy ways to write effective headlines.” I analyzed about 10 headlines to arrive at this one. My headline gets an A+ grade and a score of 74 (not visible in the screenshot).
Use the above methods one by one and see how your audience responds. You will know what works the best for your audience only by A/B testing.
Spend a considerable amount of time in crafting your headline. Practice will make you better at writing compelling headlines that get clicks.
Remember that no tool or template can substitute your creativity.
Trust your intuition to choose the final headline when publishing your post.
What are the other techniques you use in writing your posts headlines?
Let us know using the comments box below right now.