Headlines are the single most important factor when creating great content. According to Copyblogger, 80% of your visitors will read your headline but only 20% will go on to finish the article. So how can you create a headline that is both interesting and accurate? Here are some tips to consider for your next article.
Use Numbers and Data Points
Headlines with numbers can generate up to 73% more social shares and engagement. And, odd numbers appear “more authentic” to readers. Not to mention, by inserting the actual numeral instead of typing out the number (“7” instead of “seven”) your headlines can be shorter. It’s a win-win!
Provide a Unique Rationale
A unique rationale appeals to an underlying reason why something should be done. For example, with this blog post, I promised you “tips on developing headlines that drive traffic.” Consider creating headlines that include tips, reasons, lessons, methods, principles, facts, or strategies from time to time and as appropriate.
Demand the Reader’s Attention
Don’t forget: You are competing against countless emails, articles, webinars, social media updates, and resources 24/7. Make sure your headline grabs your intended reader’s attention quickly. (Did you know the average person’s attention span is 8.25 seconds?) Successful headlines convince readers to keep reading.
Consider testing your headline out in a Google search. Has anyone else written the same headline? To stand out, being unique is key! Also, don’t be afraid to be specific so readers know exactly what they’re getting into. Sure, more website visitors are great but when the majority of your visitors bounce in under three seconds, your headlines may be more click bait than useful information.
Lastly, similar to how a “limited time” can work in retail, a sense of urgency can also increase click-throughs. For example, which would you rather read: “What you need to know about GDPR” or “What changes you should make now thanks to GDPR”? The second headline conveys urgency. In other words, if you do nothing else, you should make these changes today. That’s an article I’d read right now!
Be Clear, Accurate, and Direct
Oftentimes, for the sake of coming up with something clever or entertaining, we create “interesting” headlines that don’t necessarily match up with the article or blog content. Remember, it’s not enough to attract the right reader but you also don’t want to mislead them. The best policy is to always state the obvious and be clear.
A great way to explain an article or topic simply is to hold off on creating the headline until after the work is created. That way, you’re only drafting one line of copy to explain the purpose of the content. Use common language that your audience is comfortable with and, if nothing else, keep headlines under 62 characters as search engines will likely ignore the remainder of a longer headline.
Add Punctuation to Pique Interest
In a study conducted by the Content Marketing Institute, including a hyphen or colon in the headline increased the click-through rate by 9%. Punctuation has a way of making content visually interesting and interesting content gets more attention.
Hopefully these tips have your wheels turning and already working through some upcoming topics you may be focusing on in the near future. Remember, headlines don’t need to do all five of these things so start small and stay true to your brand. And, if you’re not sure how to get started with your content marketing, give me a shout!