When you develop content, the first thing that people see is the title and headlines. Occasionally, although you write long-form content for the sake of SEO and website optimization, viewers will come across your article and solely read the headlines. This means that you need to be particularly clever when it comes to crafting these headlines. It’s something that many companies understand, yet it never seems to be a priority.
Luckily there are several tips and tricks out there, as well as tests to measure headline performance that you can get started with and start to see results right away. Check out some of these forgotten and ignored tips below:
10 Headline Tips to Bring Back in 2017
Be Accurate and Focused
Headlines should basically be the bullet points and key indicators of what a post is actually about. This means that the headline should accurately depict the section the reader is about to read. This is not just a rule for titles, but for headlines as well because it takes into account reader experience.
Have Some Fun
Although you want your headlines to be accurate, you also want to be sure that you have a little fun and give them some flare. It is this uniqueness that gets a reader from just skimming to actually reading and benefiting from your content.
Alliterations, strong language, visuals, and a focus on the “who” rather than the “why” are all ways you can add a little life to your headlines.
Stop, Collaborate, and Listen
If you are having a difficult time coming up with headlines (or titles for that matter), sometimes taking a step back from your own work and collaborating is the best thing to do.
Have a colleague or friend read the paragraph you just wrote and then tell you what they thought it was about. This can be an excellent way to get some fresh ideas and get insight into what readers are thinking.
One important way to craft headlines is through constructing numbered posts. If you start off your post with a title that indicates number, such as “10 reasons you should write an awesome headline,” then you’re already setting up your headlines to indicate the relevance to the title and the purpose that they serve in your article.
Try a Formula
Platforms like HubSpot have tried some pretty clever “formulas” for constructing a strong headline. Check out the screenshot below from their infographic to see some examples:
You can see the full infographic they created (it’s awesome) here.
Use “Why,” “How,” “What,” or “When”
As trigger words, these tell your readers what to expect in relation to your topic. They are the kind of “don’t mess around” terms that allow your reader to know the purpose and point of your article.
Use “how” if you are offering some interesting insight into a process. You might use “why” if you are discussing the importance of the topic you are writing on. It helps readers get to the point of what the article will be about before even having to click. While at first that may sound like the opposite of what you want, keep in mind that if your headline is confusing or vague you likely won’t even have a chance at a click!
Approach as an Educator
As you design titles and headlines, you want to take on the role of an educator. Remember that people are coming to your blog to learn information about the industry where you specialize.
Whether they are approaching as a reader who is a potential customer or another industry specialist that is looking for your expertise, you want them to walk away having learned something.
Bottom line: your headlines should teach something and make content more digestible.
Write Headlines for Your 2nd Person Reader
Use “you” or “your” to draw people in and make them feel connected to your content. For example, “10 Reasons You Need to Start Writing Better Headlines.”
This makes the article topic and headlines more personal, and subconsciously it can make it seems that your article is going to give that specific person what they are looking to find.
Spend More Time Writing Headlines
You can think of headlines as an outline for your blog post.
According to WordStream, “Some experts suggest that writers should devote 80% of their time writing headlines – put your effort into the most important element.” Again, headlines are kind of the spine of your content, and the long form paragraphs are the meat.
Without creating the structure you can find yourself lacking organization and getting off target quickly. You may even want to start thinking about your PPC ads and split testing headlines where you can.
Ask a daring question. Be different. Be bold. Catch readers off guard. By being a little privative (in a tasteful way—you don’t want to appear to be “fake news”) you will grab more attention, which can lead to more shares, more readers, and ultimately, more conversions.
How to Test Your Headlines to See What Works
You don’t have to be the world’s best writer to craft awesome headlines. In fact, there are some really great tools available to see just how your headlines are performing. Here are some headline testing tools that you can easily access to start testing your headlines today:
- Optimizely. Optimizely calls itself an “experimentation platform,” where businesses can test countless features of the website and digital marketing features—including headlines and content features.
- CoSchedule. CoSchedule is a content marketing tool platform, “the hum for your entire inbound marketing process.” While most of the features are paid, the platform actually has a free headline analysis tool that is really great!
- Inbound Now. Inbound Now has a “blog title idea generator” that can actually be really helpful for developing a savvy title or headline from the beginning. While not a testing tool per se, it can help you develop awesome ideas for content, regardless of your industry! I highly recommend you check this one out.
- Taboola. While this particular platform is known more for being a native advertising network, it actually has a fantastic tool for testing headlines. Using a custom click through rate algorithm, Taboola tests headlines and other features of content for user consumption—so you know you are always creating the best of the best.
Headlines are arguably one of the most important features of content. They give a reader some grounding for what your article is about, but can also make or break whether they become engaged in the first place. This article provided some of the best tips for improving your headlines—but also, some tools that can help you check in and see how you are doing as you boost creativity and sharpen your content!
Have you tried any of the headline testing tools on this list? What do you find most difficult about writing headlines yourself? Let us know in the comments section below!