So you want to learn how to write a good headline?
It’s certainly a good skill to have.
After all, your headline is the first interaction you’ll get with your target audience, and if you don’t absolutely nail it, it may very well be your last interaction with them too.
Studies have shown that while 8 out of 10 people will read a headline, only 2 out of 10 will actually click on it, which means the right headline can be the difference between people reading your content or scrolling right past it.
Here you’ll find a comprehensive guide on why you need to write a good headline, and how to actually do it.
When You Write A Good Headline it’s Great for SEO
If you understand best SEO practices, you know that your H1 (Heading 1) is vital to a successful SEO content strategy. Make sure you’re putting your primary keywords in your Headline, as well as in subsequent headings and metatags to give your website a much needed SEO booster shot.
Grab Your Reader’s Attention
It’s estimated that you only have a couple of seconds to convince people to read your content before they click off your page. That means your headline is the key to keeping your audience reading on… at least for the next 15 seconds.
Of course an attention-grabbing headline needs to be backed by compelling content, but what’s the point in investing in a nice shop if you can’t get people through the door? The same rules apply online. So lay out the welcome mat and start with a good headline.
Every line of your content should encourage your readers to continue reading, but without an absolute showstopper of a title, people will simply click away from your page, which can lead to a high bounce rate for your website.
By taking the time to write an irresistible headline for your content, you’ll win those all important 15 seconds to keep pulling your audience deeper into your page.
Tell Your Reader What Problem You’re Going to Solve For Them
When people search the internet, they’re usually looking to solve a problem. Whether they’re searching for information, or something to buy, your target market wants answers, and your title can give them those answers.
With the right headline you can call out to your ideal customers and tell them exactly how you’ll solve their problems.
For example, there’s no doubt who a headline is targeted at when it starts with the words ‘Attention Entrepreneurs’. Similarly, anyone who comes across a blog post entitled ‘Top Tips for Marketing your Business’ is going to know exactly what your article is offering.
This is a great way of laser targeting your market by attracting only the people that are relevant to your business. And if you’ve been doing your market research, you should know exactly what headlines and content your customers want to see.
What Makes a Good Headline?
There are many components to the perfect title. While not all headings have all of these traits, here are some of the main things to consider when writing your headline.
Make it attention grabbing:
Make sure your headlines are relevant, interesting and attention-grabbing. You want to draw your audience in, not send them to sleep.
Offer a Solution:
Your customers don’t actually care about you or your business. All they care about is how you can help them. So if you want to write a fantastic headline, pay careful attention to whether you’re offering your readers a solution, or simply telling them facts about yourself and your product.
If the content isn’t useful, it has no right being there.
Fulfil your Promises (No Clickbait!):
Think of your headline as a promise. A promise of what you’ll give your readers and what they stand to gain from reading your content. If you offer to solve your audience’s problems, make sure you actually provide those solutions.
Clickbait doesn’t look good on any business so make sure your headlines align with your content.
Use multiple headings:
People read differently on the internet, often choosing to scan a piece quickly rather than reading it word for word. For this reason it’s important to make your content easily scannable.
That means breaking up text with lots of paragraphs and… you guessed it, headings!
Headings and sub-headings are a great way of ‘signposting’ your content and making it clear to your reader what points you’re making throughout the text. Your audience of scanners is looking for little golden nuggets of information, so make it easy for them to find.
‘X’ marks the spot when you use headings.
Language that inspires emotion:
If you can get your customers feeling something, they’re more likely to want to read what you have to say. Certain words are known to trigger emotional responses. Words like ‘Quick and Easy’, ‘Proven’, ‘Delicious and ‘Delighted’ are all designed to inspire emotions within your readers.
By using emotive language in your titles you’ll be able to inspire an emotional response in your readers that will get them hooked on your content.
Did you know people are more likely to trust your content if you use uneven numbers?
Say you’re writing a list-style article; you should try to make the numbers in your headline uneven. For example the information in an article entitled ’5 top tips for Chihuahua owners’ would be considered more reliable than ‘4 mistakes every chi parent makes’.
If you’re using statistics, don’t round your numbers up. Studies indicate that people find specific numbers more trustworthy than round numbers.
This means that people are far more likely to believe that ’97.73% of ducks like listening to Coldplay’ than they are to believe that ’98% of ducks like Queen’. Using more specific statistics is a great way of establishing authority and building trust with your readers.
Studies have shown that people tend to only read the first three words and the last three words of a headline, which means you’ve got two options. Either you can make sure your heading is 6 words long, or you can put the most important words to the front and end of your longer headlines.
Is there anything worse than FOMO? It’s a rare human who can go through life without experiencing the dreaded ‘fear of missing out’.
You see businesses targeting this weakness all the time with their declarations of ‘offer ends soon’, ’only three left’ and of course ‘stocks are limited!’ No one wants to miss a good deal, and you can use headlines to tap into your target market’s fear of missing out.
If you want to get people clicking on your content, make it a high stakes game. Perhaps they’ll miss out on some world-changing information or maybe you’ve got an offer that won’t last. Whatever it is, make it clear that your readers stand to lose something if they don’t click through to your content RIGHT NOW!
When targeting FOMO in your headlines, try to remember my earlier points on clickbait. Never lie just to get a couple of extra readers. When your readers genuinely stand to miss out on something, TELL THEM, but don’t lie.
Let’s face it, you could follow all of these suggestions and still end up with a headline that doesn’t convert. So when worse comes to worst, you can always try A/B testing your headlines to see which one has a better click-through rate.
Types of Headlines You Should Be Writing
There are many types of headlines you can write and you should use a variety to avoid being repetitive. Here’s a list of some of the most common ways to start your headlines.
- The ‘How To’: ‘How to Become a Horse’
- The ‘Why’: ‘Why you Need a Marketing Strategy’
- Lists: ’15 Ways to Write a Great Headline’
- The ‘Ultimate’: ‘The Ultimate Guide to Nose Olympics’
- ‘X’ Reasons Why: ‘5 Reasons Why Your Customers Aren’t Opening Your Emails’
- The ‘Where’: ‘Where to Shop This Christmas’
- The ‘When’: ‘When is it Time to Admit you Like Ferrets?’
- The Clickbait: ‘You won’t BELIEVE what she did this summer’. (I don’t personally like this style as I’ve seen a lot of trashy websites use it to trick people into reading their articles).
- The ‘FOMO’: ‘Only the BEST Marketers Use this Simple Marketing Hack. Are You?’
- Top Tips: ‘Top Tips for Marketing Your Business’
- Easy Steps: ‘7 Easy Steps for setting up a home-based gym’
- ‘Are You’: ‘Are you Spending Too Much on Bagels?’
- ‘Secrets’: ‘Marketing Secrets of a Senior Copywriter’
- The Story: ‘How I lost 2 kilos in 2 days (and you can too!)’
- Warnings: ‘Warning: Are you Paying Too Much For Your Mars Holiday?’
- Attention: ‘Attention Entrepreneurs… How to Make Money Doing What You Love’
- The Testimonial: ‘I Can’t Believe How Much Better I Feel Now That I’m Using Riggleworts Ringle Cream!’
- The Statistic: ’97.3% of Schnauzers Can’t Play the Harmonica. The Science Hole Finds Out Why’
Write a Great Headline to Sell Your Audience
They say you should never judge a book by its cover, but that’s all we do when reading content online. Your title is your cover, and in this case, you need to make sure it’s the best darn cover your audience has ever seen.
Never underestimate the power of a good headline and always make sure to put extra time into making sure yours is absolutely perfect. As marketing genius David Ogilvy once said
‘On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.’
With these tips on how to write a great headline you should be well on your way to content marketing success.
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