Writing a headline is one of the most challenging tasks when it comes to writing blog posts. Not only do you have to write something that pops, it has to be an ultra-concentrated sentence of what your blog post is essentially about. It has to capture the imagination while teasing just enough information to draw in readers.
That’s probably why a lot of content marketers leave it as the last thing they do when creating a blog or article. But you don’t need a digital marketing consultant like me to tell you that.
After sitting down one evening, I started to brainstorm a few tips that can help push the creative process along, and these 4 tips are generally what I use when making a headline that pops out, entices, and brings traffic to my website.
Check them out.
Tips to Shaping One Heck of a Headline
1. Do Your Homework
One way to learn how to write a great headline is to find one what you like and analyze what makes it successful. Whether you know it or not, you encounter dozens of headlines every day when you read:
- YouTube Videos
- Email titles
Analyze all of these headlines and titles thoroughly, then focus your attention on the ones that compelled you to click on them. Next, ask yourself some insightful questions about them:
- What was it about this particular headline that drew your attention and made you act?
- What was your favorite part about this headline?
- Was it funny, charming, or eye-catching? If so, how did it evoke that emotion?
Don’t forget about the ones you DID NOT click on. Ask yourself:
- What about this headline made me not want to click it?
- How could it have been better?
- Did it offend or annoy me?
Jot down the answers to your questions and have them readily available. I jot down my findings on my Sticky Notes application in my laptop, that way, they are there when I need to remind myself.
Keep in mind, however, that you are essentially basing the value of a headline on your own personal likes and so what you like might not work for everyone else. But, on the other hand, the truth of the matter is that you aren’t going to please everybody, all of the time.
2. Try and Spot the Winning Headline Formula
For years, digital marketing content writers have conducted research to see what headline factors and trends bring traffic to a website.
Multiple findings point to the following elements that the most successful headlines have:
- Numbers – Headlines that began with a number, normally introducing a list within a certain subject. Take the headline above, for instance.
- How To’s – Kind of a no-brainer. People Google things all the time in an effort to learn something they don’t know how to do. A headline that includes “How to…” within the title will let the visitor know that your site intends to deliver the information they’re looking for.
- Rare Opportunities – These headlines tend to have some sort of secret that an expert wants to let you in on. They usually have a “5 Little Known Tips…” or “The Secret to…” within them. It offers visitors an opportunity to gain knowledge that isn’t mainstream yet.
- Piggy-Backing on Popularity – These headlines include names of famous people or popular events and entertainment, in essence, borrowing from their popularity. Depending on the article topic, it can add a little extra flair and personality to your headline. An example would be like “5 Friendship Tips I Learned From Watching Game of Thrones” or something of the like.
- Big Promises – These headlines generally involve words like “The Ultimate Guide to…” or “The Best 7 Tips for…”. They offer a plethora of information to interested visitors.
Of course, you don’t want to load up your headline with all of these factors because then you’d have a whole mess of stuff that doesn’t make much sense. As with any content creation, the goal is to shape a quality title that delivers the overall message of what the blog is about and lures visitors at the same time.
You don’t want to oversell anything either, as that generally sends visitors running away from your site, not to. Avoid hyperbole like “These 27 Headline Creation Tips Will Blow Your Mind” when, in fact, the majority of those tips are mediocre at best. You’ll lose credibility that way.
3. Practice, Then Produce
As with anything in life, you need to practice in order to get better at it. Making an eye-catching headline is no different. Practice is something that I would consider somewhat of an umbrella term in this case. It means several different things, but it all has the same end goal: honing your ability to create a great headline.
Below is what you should focus on:
- Practice Writing Blog Post Headlines – Commit 30 minutes each week to just writing a headline. For better results, commit at least 10 minutes each day.
- Write Multiple Headlines For Each Blog Post – Some say that you should spend an equal amount of time creating an engaging headline as you would with creating an actual blog post, but I wouldn’t recommend that. A good 15 to 20 minutes should suffice when it comes to developing an outstanding headline. Then, read them off to a friend to see which ones are more engaging.
- Appeal to Readers/Visitors’ Emotions – Most research points to an emotional response when a visitor decides to click on a headline. According to Copyblogger, eight out of 10 people will read your headline, and only two of those 10 will actually read your blog. Appealing to readers’ emotions can grow that number, meaning more visits that can help your Google rank. A higher Google rank means more leads that can be converted to sales.
- Keep It Short and Concise – People have short attention spans so a short headline won’t lose their attention. Keep it down to that sweet spot of eight to 10 words.
- Use Keywords – If you’re a content marketer, you may already have keyword research results for your particular niche on hand. Focus on a natural delivery of the keyword in your headline; you don’t want it to read awkwardly. As a matter of fact, keep the language conversational, more in tune with your potential customers’ word choices.
Once you’ve practiced all that you can, you should be able to produce quality headlines that can attract traffic, but your learning doesn’t stop there.
4. Most Importantly, Write For YOUR Audience
When it comes to marketing in general, not everyone is going to like your advertising strategy. The same is true when it comes to digital marketing.
What counts, though, is getting the audience that you are trying to reach out to like you. Don’t create a headline to have something to show your family at the next holiday dinner, to appease your boss, or to make you sound witty to other digital marketers. That’s not the point.
The point is to write a headline for your audience, tailored to the data you have collected. You can collect data through a survey or an A/B test.
An A/B test, in a nutshell, is when you compare two versions of a single thing—in this case a headline—to see which one performs better with your audience. A number of programs exist that can help you do this like KISSmetrics, but if you have Google Analytics, you can try out their Experiment systems tool to get this done for free.