It’s tough to say what is the most important element of a blog article, but your headline is certainly a top contender. You could be Ernest Hemingway, but if no one wants to click on your headline, they’re never going to read it, anyway. There is a kind of science to writing effective headlines.
A good one will describe, in very short length, what the content is going to be about, while being interesting and clickable at the same time. This is harder than it looks, which is why we’re offering this post to give you some good ideas on how to build your headlines so that they will perform well.
Spend More Time On Your Headlines
Like the title of a book, the headline is what first hooks someone and draws them in. If you’re scratching your head trying to figure out why your articles aren’t performing as well as you expected, then take a closer look at your headlines. It could be exactly the thing that’s holding you back and very often is.
Consider your list of subscribers for whom you send out an email when you publish a new article. Well-crafted headlines can immensely increase your open rate from subscribers. You’ve already got some loyalty from them because those people are interested enough to subscribe to the blog, but that doesn’t mean they won’t skip right over a new post if the title doesn’t sound attractive, or doesn’t sound like something they want to read about.
The point is that you can’t write the headline haphazardly just because you have to call it something. You should spend a good amount of time writing them. Some people even claim that you should devote 90% of your time on the headline and 10% of your time on the actual articles; however, that’s not really accurate because, though it’s a fair point, the quality of the content is very important, too.
Quality content leads to brand loyalty and can establish you as an authority on the subject about which you’re writing. People really do read, even in this day and age. Just always keep in mind that the headline is the hook and should always be highly clickable.
Imply that They Are Misinformed
In an illuminating article published by WordStream, they propose a great strategy for grabbing the attention of web searchers. People instinctively respond when they are told that they have been misled or deceived in some way.
So, for this strategy to work, all you have to do is claim that what the reader has been told is incorrect or inaccurate, and that’s usually enough to make them desperate to know the truth, which you will of course be happy to provide for them.
You don’t have to lie or make any false claims. Using this method presupposes that you do, in fact, have information that will be of value to the reader, not that you’re just making something up to make it look like you’re smarter than everybody else.
If you use this device, just be sure that you are, indeed, clearing something up for your readers and actually know what you are talking about. This is possible one of the most effective ways to provoke people into clicking the headline.
Here are a couple of examples of starter phrases:
Be Clear & Concise
The fastest way to get passed over is to write a headline that is unclear. If they can’t instantly understand the headline, know exactly what it means, and have a good idea of what the content will be about, then they’ll just move on to the next search listing.
Does the title make sense? What is the article about? Make sure that the headline reflects the subject matter of the content, and describe as much about the article as you can, in a few words. Many writers or marketers have the tendency to try and make the headline really funny, interesting clickbait but fail to describe anything about the actual content.
That can irritate visitors because they don’t like the feeling that they’re being fooled or sold something deceptively. This is especially true if you deliberately title it something that isn’t even discussed in the article at all.
Take a look at these examples of clear headlines:
Use Provocative, Active Language
Being clear about what they’re about to read is important to readers, but it doesn’t mean the headline has to be boring. In fact, the headline very much needs to use language that gets people excited about the article.
Even if the article is based on a subject that doesn’t exactly get your heart pumping, you can always find the words that will make it interesting. Active imagery is the key to engaging the visitor. As you’ve probably heard before, we all think mostly in pictures, not in words. That means that when you’re writing a headline, it’s helpful to use language that paints a mental picture for them.
As a bonus, people will also be more likely to remember it if you use vibrant imagery. The title of the work should pop; it should punch so that it really grabs a web visitor’s attention. There are a lot of blogs out there, so you’ll need to get creative to make your content stand out. This is yet another reason why you need to spend some real time perfecting the headlines.
Here a few sample phrases that you can use today:
There’s no law that says you can’t claim to have the “best cup of coffee in Chicago”, and people definitely do this routinely. Title with superlatives like that are more attractive (not necessarily as simplistic as that one), and this is one of the easiest ways to keep your headlines from being boring.
For the most part, this device is reserved for subjective content, where it’s basically unprovable that something is the “greatest” or the “best”, or similar descriptions. What you’re promoting may very well be the absolute greatest version of it because it’s subjective and lies in the eye of the beholder.
If someone refutes that you’re the best, then you can happily accept their opinion. Of course, this may not be fitting for every post, but every chance you get, it’s great to make your post sound like it’s the greatest thing ever created.
Give the Impression that You’re the Authority on the Subject
First of all, you should understand that this works a lot better if you actually are the authority on the subject, and not just claiming to know everything about it when you really don’t. In fact, all fakery aside, to establish yourself with your audience as the authority on a narrow field, over time, is honestly the most advantageous thing you can do for your blog.
Regarding your subscribers, more of them will be loyal to you and spread the word to their friends about how valuable and reliable your articles are. Not only that, but if you can literally solidify your place as an authority on anything, you can actually become a household name, so to speak, the first place people think of when they need help, information, or a product within your industry.
The same principle obviously applies to your company’s brand. That’s pretty much the holy grail of a business blog; when you are the first place people go to for a certain product because your brand is synonymous with that product. It takes a lot of time and effort to get to that point but entirely worth the work.
When writing your blog headlines, regardless of how prominent your content is within a given field, you can subtly imply to the reader that they have come to the right place to learn about what they searched for.
Writing great headlines is more than just putting a title on a blog article. All the right elements have to come together. There’s no reason to obsess over it to the point of driving yourself crazy, but the point is to be thoughtful about it and mostly just imagine what would make you click on your post if you were the one looking at the search page in Google.
Basically, you should take more time, once you finish an article, to think about how to make the headline as attractive as it possibly can be. Even if you only use these few tips for creating high-performing headlines, you can see a lot more traffic for your business’ blog.
What’s Next? Check out all of the articles in our series, Building Your Business Blog 201:
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Stephanie is the Marketing Director at Talkroute and has been featured in Forbes, Inc, and Entrepreneur as a leading authority on business and telecommunications.
Stephanie is also the chief editor and contributing author for the Talkroute blog helping more than 100k entrepreneurs to start, run, and grow their businesses.