Creating a dedicated blog is only half of the battle in today's content marketing efforts. While business owners need to keep up a steady stream of original and informative content, the battle is far from won.
Great content can easily be missed, or ignored if it doesn't feature an attention-getting headline that engages with the reader and convinces them to invest their time in visiting the blog spot and reading the article in question.
On 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.
What makes an effective headline and how do we "maximize our dollar" for results?
And, what do bloggers and website owners need to know to create effective, SEO-friendly, headlines that will bring in that much-needed online traffic?
Let's dive in.
Understand Your Target Audience
The first, and most important, step to creating any online content is to know your target audience. Try to think like they do, and use the language that they would use in any given search.
Tell the reader why they need what you have.
Consider how an average online user might go about searching for your product or service.
For example, if your website sells cookware and kitchen appliances, your blog might focus on culinary trends, new developments in kitchenware, and tips for the home cook.
If your latest post is a recipe for vegetarian lasagne, you want to telegraph that to both the search engine and your audience.
Thus, a headline like “Vegetarian Meals Your Kids Will Love” is not going to bring the traffic you desire. Someone looking for a lasagne recipe will never see your post.
A more effective headline would be something like, “Vegetarian Lasagne: A Quick and Easy Recipe That Your Kids Will Love”.
This headline is direct and to the point, features the subject of the article right up front, and implies an intrinsic value to the content.
In other words, this article will teach you how to make a vegetarian lasagne that your family will love.
How To Write The Perfect Headline?
"On average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest", as mentioned in this post by Copyblogger.
And, Copyhackers mentions that headline formulas are a great way to create a process that becomes second nature for headline writing.
As you can see, a LOT should go into writing your headline!
Trigger words are very powerful to help persuade your audience to read your article. Some examples of trigger words are:
Incorporating these words into your headlines will stir emotion in your new visitors, and hopefully, get them to come back for more content.
Headlines and SEO
Search engines have gotten fairly sophisticated over the last few years, but they still rely on keywords and phrases to index and categorize the content.
When creating an attention-getting headline, it is important to consider the needs of the search engine bots and to place your keywords prominently within your headline.
Looking at the above example of an effective headline we see that the focus of the article in question is identified right away.
“Vegetarian Lasagne” is prominently placed at the front of the headline, making the focus of the article clear to both search engines and readers.
The second part of our headline, “A Quick and Easy Recipe” goes even further, and identifies the article as an instructional guide.
Finally, the third part of the headline, “That Your Kids Will Love”, is the playful embellishment that speaks directly to the consumer.
We've made it clear to the search engine what the focus of the article is, Vegetarian Lasagne Recipes, and we've grabbed the reader's attention by using emotional triggers.
Of course, on the technical side of SEO, your headlines will become an H1 tag for the main headline and either H2 or H3 on sub-headlines.
It's critical for Google to see at least the main H1 tag formatted correctly on your page.
You can also copy/paste your blog link directly into our SEO Auditor to check for any errors on both tags and much more.
Benefit Driven Headlines
Benefit-driven headlines are some of the most effective, for both SEO purposes as well as for grabbing the attention of online users.
As search engines have become more sophisticated, and more responsive to direct queries, online users have naturally gravitated to more common and conversational search terms.
People are now asking questions of Google, such as, “Where do I find size 13 shoes” or "How do I change the oil on a 1978 Pontiac Firebird”.
Effective headlines make use of this conversational approach, offering perceived benefit from the outset.
Google's Hummingbird update also focuses on interpreting conversational queries to better match the visitor's intention and is the driving force in the search results today.
Returning to our original example a person might input a search query like “How to Make a Vegetarian Lasagne”. It's a simple direct request and makes a very effective headline in and of itself.
It is short and to the point, features the keywords that the search engine needs to index and categorize the content, and directly addresses the user's query.
When creating a headline that will trigger the reader's intent, consider your topic and how your article will benefit the reader, then build your headline out of the natural questions your article hopes to answer.
If you can answer questions beginning with “How”, “Where”, “What” and “Why” you will be well on your way to creating an effective headline for your blog post.
Learning to create effective headlines is an art and takes some time and a lot of practice.
If you can learn to think like your target audience, understand their informational needs, while staying ever mindful of the effective deployment of keywords, you will soon be crafting clever headlines that serve the search engines and grab the reader's attention.
What are your thoughts on creating effective headlines? Feel free to drop us a note, we would love to hear your thoughts or how we can help with your content marketing efforts.