We’re in an industrial blogging age. Many successful entrepreneurs, authors, and industry experts will tell you that if you truly want to grow a brand, you need to create credibility. Outside of customer service, the most effective way to do that is through your blog.
A blog is only as good as it’s headlined…
Like any publication, you’ll need to capture the attention of potential readers. You may have a decent blog but what’s making people read it? How do search engines like Google or Bing view your content, and what makes visitors want to share it? Content is king, but headlines hold the key. Here are some things to keep in mind when creating headlines for your content kingdom.
Keep it Short and Sweet.
Readers have extremely short attention spans. Make sure your headlines are direct and to the point. Sure it’s important to be creative and authentic [as we’ll see later], but if your headline is too long it will lose it’s punch and bore potential readers.
According to Buffer Social, the ideal headline should be about 6 words. Keeping your titles that short may not always be an easy task, but it’s important to note that readers usually scan the first and last three words of a headline — so 6 is the sweet spot.
For today’s readers, nothing is worse than more of the same ole same. Bloggers, marketers, and brands need to develop a unique voice. Blogzworth Wordsmith, a social media guru, and manager for Radio One says that authenticity is the secret weapon:
If people believe you, they will follow you, and they will read your work. Be yourself in your titles and in your writing.
Be authentic. It pays to understand our brand’s voice so that it resonates throughout your content. If you’ve got a quirky personality or a unique niche of followers, show us in the titles! On the other hand, if our blog is strictly business, make sure readers know what they’re getting themselves into.
What’s going to make the reader want to know more? Try to spark a bit of curiosity with the headline. Bestselling author and Forbes top 10 Marketer, Niel Patel has a great blog post on the psychology of writing a great headline. He says:
Questions [in headlines] that prime our curiosity are powerful brain influencers… The best questions are about something readers can relate to or want to know about.
There’s a psychological phenomenon called the curiosity gap that describes the gap between something a person knows and something he or she wants to know. Truth is, people start to feel some type of way when they realize there’s a “gap” in their knowledge. We should use that to our advantage.
SEO is Your Friend.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a bloggers best friend, but for some reason, many new writers still ignore the practice altogether. Some think that crafting a title with SEO in mind limits creativity, while others feel like it doesn’t matter. Let’s face it SEO is how our content gets seen!
3 ways to create an SEO friendly title:
- Use keywords in the title. These are common words or phrases to describe the content in our posts.
- Use numbers. Numbers work. They stand out and are definite. Two characteristics that will help our headline.
- Use names. Again if our topic is about a certain person, don’t waste any time, put their name in the headline.
If you want your headlines to be effective, you need to keep SEO in mind. There is definitely a method behind the SEO madness, but it’s not rocket science. Search engines need to make sure that users find the content they’re looking for — rightfully so! If I search for the best places to buy dog food on Google, it’s Google’s job to deliver me the best, most well-documented results. As a blogger, you need to play the SEO game. Search engines need to trust that your content is worthy of putting on page 1 of the search results.
There’s a lot to write about, and as content creators, the power is always in our hands. Because of that freedom, we must be sure to understand our audience and keep the content relevant to them. Start with the headline.
The blog at Orbitmedia.com states:
All great headlines are benefit-driven. Not only do benefit-driven headlines get more clicks, they also get readers to buy. In one A/B test of landing pages by Ion Interactive, the headline that explained the benefits increased conversion rates by 28%.
Relevance in our headline is important for two main reasons: we want to remain credible and we want our content shared. Work hard to grab the reader’s attention and convince them to click. But once you’ve gained their trust, it’s crucial you follow through When readers click your headline, the content should match.
Great! Now that you’re equipped with the knowledge of a headline writing master, you can unlock your blog’s full potential. Be sure to keep these ideas in mind when marketing other content as well as your call to actions, tweets, and graphics. The goal is to get readers to click, and it’s all about writing a good headline. Period.
Here are some free online tools for us to add to our headline writing arsenal.
- Check out this pretty cool headline analyzer from Sharethrough.com.
- Find out what questions people are asking to craft the perfect headline. Visit Answer the Public.
- Check out this awesome graphic on creating engaging content.