You’ve spent that last couple of hours pouring out what you know into a smart, value-filled, fantastically written blog article. But what if no one reads it?
This is a common fear, and a real issue. Too many great blogs go unread for one simple reason: the headline or blog title stinks. Sounds harsh. But the reality is that your blog headline has a huge impact on whether or not someone will make the effort to read what you wrote.
We all write with the goal to get people, preferably our prospective customers, to read our article. Our audience may stumble upon our blog when surfing our website or when we share it on social media or in an email link to be clicked. If the headline isn’t good enough, they won’t click, we will have failed to attract their attention and they’ll miss out on what we have to say.
The good news is that with some planning and a bit of effort, you can create blog headlines that work. Here are some key headline writing tactics:
- Do your keyword research first. Focus on words that you know your audience is using in search on your general topic. Determine a single keyword phrase that works best. Assume your keyword phrase or some variation of it will be a part of your headline.
- Emphasize engagement. You want the reader to connect with the title and believe that your article has something important in it for them. So include strong, engaging words that illicit an emotion or reaction. Both positive and negative can work. Examples:
How to avoid a costly overdraft mistake at your bank (negative)
Finding love through online dating with these simple rules (positive)
- Be accurate. Tell the reader what the blog is about or what they will get from it. Set the stage. Don’t mislead or be so ambiguous that the reader is confused. If you’re giving five tips, then say so (note: even though your high school English teacher would say to use the spell out for the word “five”, using the actual number is proven to engage more readers). Examples:
5 signs you may be addicted to caffeine
How 3 cool tricks helped me improve my memory
- Plan to write about twenty headlines before you hit on a winner. Sounds like a lot, but once you start, you’ll get on a roll. Use a working title as you write your article, then start trying headlines. Test different word combinations, change up the order and get our your thesaurus to look up synonyms. Keep writing until you’ve completed about twenty.
- Keep it under 70 characters to avoid truncation from search engines. You don’t want your headline cut off when Google brings back search results, so watch the character count, including spaces between words. 8-12 words is proven to be optimal by HubSpot for social shares and social likes. Eight word headlines tend to get 21% more click throughs, according to Outbrain.
These tactics should build your confidence in creating blog headlines that work. But if you’re still stuck on your approach, try putting the headline you want to create into one of three categories:
The avoid pain or “threat” headline
This is often used to convey the risk of not doing something, not understanding something and mistakes the reader may be accidentally making. You want your reader to feel compelled to read your blog so they can avoid something negative – and fast! While the sentiment conveyed is negative, the blog does not have to be – especially if you can provide the solutions to avoid the pain. Examples:
What everybody out to know about search engine optimization
5 shocking mistakes killing your weight loss plan
Heat may be detrimental to your ankle sprain recovery
The social proof or influencer headline
A headline of this type relies on the power of influential people or peers to give credence to what is being proposed. It often pulls in respected companies, individuals or data sources to provide the proof that the rest of us should follow their lead (and the source to be followed could be you!). Examples:
Why I sleep with a body pillow and you should too
Just like Microsoft, you can build a first-class tech company
Join 10 of your peers that get pain relief from massage therapy
Benefit with a promise or “gain” headline
This headline category is one of the most common and probably easiest to create. The goal is to quickly communicate a promise for what you can get from the blog. Particularly when you are writing about services you provide, this is a great way to talk about what you do in terms of “what’s in it for them” (the reader…and your prospective customer). Examples:
Here’s a quick way to successfully negotiate your new car purchase
Get a reduced grocery bill without the hassle of coupons
How to turn your shopping habit into a money-making venture
We follow these same guidelines to create blog headlines that work for all of our customers. So you can be sure they are tried and true! Next time you sit down to write your blog, give our guidelines a try. As always, if you are too busy to write your own blog, we’re happy to see if we can help.