How To Write Headlines People Want To Read
People are accustomed to seeing hundreds of links every single today, so having headlines that grab their attention right away is essential if you want your website to successfully generate relevant traffic. Your awesome content deserves to be seen, so read on and learn how you can start writing the most irresistible headlines that will reel readers in.
What’s in a Headline?
Would a headline be any other name sound just as sweet? Not exactly. Headlining isn’t just titling your post. It’s a process that requires thought and technique and like all digital skills, can be mastered through research and practice. A headline should be intriguing, honest and appeal to people’s emotions. Celebrity magazines are the pros when it comes to read-worthy headlines. We may groan every time we click a link or pick up a magazine in a supermarket, but the fact we’re even doing that is because they’ve gotten our attention. We just have to knowhow Hollywood’s hottest couple’s relationship was destroyed.
Your headlines should be authentic and catchy. Instead of making a statement, a headline should offer something or pose a question that your audience will be dying to know the answer to. Ask yourself what type of information your content provides. Breaking it down into a few target keywords will help you design a headline that’s intriguing to viewers and ranks high in search engines.
You wouldn’t be as interested in a newspaper’s front page if it simply read, “Fire Yesterday”. You also wouldn’t want to read anything that was more than a sentence or two long, since your attention would be onto something else before the story even began. CoSchedule released a list of the top visibility platform’s recommended headlines, which you can use as guides when crafting your own.
Search Engine Headline Lengths
- Google: Up to 70 characters.
- Bing: Up to 71 characters.
- Yahoo: No limits.
- Facebook: 40 characters.
- Twitter: 70-100 characters.
- LinkedIn – 80 – 120 characters.
- Google+ – 60 characters.
- Email – 50 characters (though this is widely debated)
The exact length of your headline ultimately rests in your hands, so go by the success of your past headlines and see which ones viewers responded to best. You should also conduct a mini social experiment using yourself as the subject and jot down every headline that you respond to in a single day. The next morning, go over them and break down each one and determine why each one grabbed your attention.
Odd One Out
People can most effectively absorb information when it’s categorized into three to five easily-digestible parts. That’s why you usually see posts that offer the “Top 3 Ways” or “5 Reasons Why” you should do something. Odd numbers are viewed in marketing as more authentic.
This is why even a feature piece can be broken down into several smaller segments. People would rather read smaller chunks than a block of text. The headers that follow each portion also increases your site’s readability and allows them to skim for the parts of your content most relevant to them.
Steve Baker of Davis Marketing offers a killer formula for crafting odd-numbered headlines.
“(odd number) (adjective) (mistakes/tips/insights/shortcuts) for (achieving/avoiding) (desired outcome/disaster)”
Skip the Spam
It isn’t good as a canned food and it doesn’t bode well in marketing either. If you want to make sure you don’t put people off with your headlines, avoid words that are associated with the click-bait sidebar ads and popups. Anything that’s advertised as “100 percent free” usually isn’t, and Internet users today are much more inclined to skip something fishy instead of wasting their time trying to figure out the catch.
Hubspot published a list of the Ultimate Email Spam Words in January 2012, and while four years may have passed since then, it’s a solid compilation of words every writer should avoid if they want to be taken seriously and write clickable content.
It’s What’s Inside that Counts
Wring a clickable headline will get you more traffic and increase your search engine rank, but what matters most is the actual content you’re presenting. Don’t be the person who has super enticing headlines but measly, disorganized articles that are filled with nothing but fluff and obvious information.
Publish content that both you and your audience will benefit from. Doing this helps establish credibility, which boosts your viewer satisfaction, helps your ratings rise and guarantees more views on all your future headlines.