Sometimes, good content can be let down by a dull headline. A killer headline can be the difference between your content being read and shared all over the internet, or simply falling flat. If you’re not following the eight steps we’ve laid out below, you’re not doing your headlines – or your content – justice.
1. You know what they say about first impressions...
The biggest point of a headline is to grab people's attention and hook them into reading your content. You could have written the most amazing, interesting and insightful post the world has ever seen, but if your headline isn't exciting, people might never discover the delightful wisdom you have to offer. A catchy, thought-provoking headline, on the other hand, will sell your content so no one can resist clicking on your post. There's a sea of information out there on the web, and if your headline falls among the average, it'll get overlooked and lost.
The headline is the very first thing your potential readers will see in search engine results, social media feeds and archives, so it's important to spend some time on it if you want to entice people into reading your content. After all, improving your click-through rate will mean more traffic to your site, which potentially leads to more sales. But where do you even start?
2. What sort of headlines drive click-through rate?
To get your content noticed, you need to create a more clickable headline than your competitors. It sounds hard, but there are ways to do this.
It's not our favourite thing to admit, but a good headline should be like click-bait, but better optimised for your important keywords and never, EVER, deceitful. You want people to click on your post, but you also want them to find what they expected to find without feeling like they've been lured to your page under false pretences.
3. But what makes your audience click?
Your content can take many forms: quiz, list, infographic, research, guide - I could go on. Using your headline to tell users what type of content they can expect once they've clicked through could make them more likely to read on, because they won’t feel like they’re wasting time by clicking on something they’re not interested in. You can make this kind of indication by using words like 'tips', 'hacks' or 'predictions', as this tells your audience what sort of content your post involves.
Numbers also work for this type of headline (for example, ‘15 Tips for Creating Shareable Online Content'). Your user will see this headline and immediately know that there are 15 great tips at hand here, and will be eager to know how many of them they can use in their own content.
4. One isn’t necessarily the loneliest number
It doesn’t always have to be a long number list though. Imagine how effective having just one ultimate tip might be in getting people to click through. ‘The Single Best Hack for Increasing Your Conversion Rate’ might make people more inclined to click on your content because it will create the idea of some kind of miracle tip that will bring in more conversions.
Again, it’s important to remember that enticing your audience to click is one thing, just make sure you’re not lying to them. Make that single hack an amazing piece of insight that actually does help them get the conversions they need, otherwise they’ll just bounce right back to the search results.
5. An emotional hook
Emotional language is another way to drive click-through rate and give you a bit of an edge over your competitors. Superlative words like 'inspiring', 'hilarious' and 'shocking' often do the trick, although make sure these words are actually relevant – nobody likes to click on a 'hilarious' link and find it doesn't even make them crack a smile.
6. Turn your topic on its head
Speaking of competitors, to create a good headline, sometimes it’s good to go against the grain and turn what everyone else is doing upside down. For example, rather than ‘The 10 Best Ways to Increase Organic Revenue’, you could create something along the lines of ’10 Things That Are Decreasing Your Organic Revenue’ instead. This might appeal to an audience who feel that they’re already doing everything they can to increase organic revenue, but the notion that they might be doing something to harm their progress might grab their attention.
7. The how-to trend
When you want to know how to do something, such as how to create engaging blog content or how to create a fool-proof content marketing strategy, you’ll probably type those exact words into Google. As you can see from the above screenshot, this is a trend that has continued to increase year on year.
Wouldn’t it be great if a piece of content with that exact headline popped up, and perfectly answered the question you typed into Google?
Type in a few how-to style queries into Google surrounding your product. If there isn’t a piece of content answering that question, you’ve got your headline! Even if there is, you might have the insights to write a better article, so you could introduce numbers, emotional hooks or anything else you think would make users click on your content rather than your competitors’.
8. Headline-helping tools
There are a number of places to get inspiration for your content headlines. If you’ve read our recent blog post on free keyword tools, you might remember a handy little website called Answer the Public. The idea of this tool is that you type in your keyword and a whole host of search queries around that word or phrase pop up, like this:
Some of these can be used as good, searchable headlines and form a good basis for content ideas.
Another nifty tool for headline inspiration is Portent’s Content Idea Generator.
Simply type in your keyword and it’ll suggest a catchy headline for you, and provide some best-practice tips on how to make your headlines as catchy and engaging as possible. It also gives you handy resources to help you plan your content strategy once you’ve got the perfect headline.
Need a hand creating catchy, engaging headlines? We’d love to help! Get in touch today for a natter about how we can take your content to the next level.