What’s in a headline?
A lot. And I mean a whole lot.
Let’s say you are scrolling through your Twitter feed one morning and you see a headline that says “ How To Make More Money With Your Blog Without Doing A Thing.”, do you think this would get your attention? I’m thinking it might. Now don’t get me wrong, if you have a headline like this for your blog post, you had better be able to back it up.
Through trial and error, I have learned that having compelling headlines for blog posts, social media headlines, and email subject lines make a huge difference between becoming just another post that gets scrolled through, or one that is clicked on and hopefully read.
What makes for a good headline?
Well, I think the headline I just wrote above here isn’t that bad? It is missing an emotional element and it is a bit short, but I will touch on that a bit later in this article.
That said, you have to spark an emotional chord with your reader. You want the reader to want to learn more.
Typically there are 3 types of blog & social media headlines that convert the best.
- How To’s
- Answering Questions
Learning is a really important part of life. And who doesn’t want to learn something that will make them better or earn them more money?
I have written headlines that I thought were pretty good, but they just ended up bombing.
Rather than throwing in the towel, I tweaked my headlines until they were about as perfect as I could get them. Then I tested them to see if readers agreed. When you are crafting headlines, don’t just create one and then leave it at that. Create a few. Use one for a while and then test the others to determine which one converts the best.
Headlines take work. They don’t just appear out of thin air.
You’re sitting down. You know what you are going to write about, so start there. Write down the first headline that comes to your mind. Now that you have a rough idea of what your headline should be, you now need to do some Google research to determine if there are others interested in what you are going to be writing about.
After you have determined there is an audience for your message you then need to determine a keyword or keyword phrase to include in your headline. Typically, keyword phrases are what you will want to include. As there is probably less competition on Google for your topic.
Nail your keyword phrase. It is really important, not only for headline inclusion, you will also want to include it in the body of your article and in your posts meta description. Google takes these placements into consideration when indexing your blog post online.
Keyword research is essential before the writing process. You have to get into the mind of the person doing the searching and provide them with content that would meet their query.
If I were searching on Google “how to write headlines for blog posts”, it would be logical that I may click on a headline that had the keyword phrase “how to write headlines” in it.
So, how does one find appropriate keyword phrases?
There are many tools available that are helpful. I have experimented with most of the popular ones out there. Paid and free ones. Most of them were useful, but were either hard to use or had significant limitations.
Over time, I settled in on using two tools for my keyword research.Google’s Keyword Planner and SEM Rush’s “All-in-one Marketing Toolkit”.
- Google Keyword Planner – this is Google’s keyword tool that is very helpful for finding keywords and keyword phrases. One of the main features that I like is the regional keyword information that is provided. One possible drawback to this tool is that you can only use it if you have an active Google Adwords account.
- SEM Rush – this is a tool that allows you to do keyword, keyword phrase, and related keyword research. The related keyword function is very important these days when writing blog posts and other content. No longer is it useful to “keyword stuff” in your content. You should be including keywords that are related to the keyword you are including in your headline.
Include a keyword phrase below and try it for yourself.
In addition to keyword research, you are also able to perform extremely useful tasks like viewing what your competitors are doing with their keywords and learn which pages are bringing them the most traffic. You can then use that information to work toward making your keyword and content strategy better than theirs. When you get proficient at this, you will increase your Google page ranking. You are also able to create competitor lists and view how you stack up against them. I could go on, but there are too many features to cover in this article.
SEM Rush is a paid tool and is worth every dollar if you are a marketing consultant or want your website to perform at its best from an SEO standpoint.
Before paying for a subscription (which I believe is your best bet in the long run if you are a content creator) you have the option to try SEM Rush for free.
Optimization tip: In addition to including your keyword in your headline, also include it in the first paragraph of your blog post or towards the beginning of your email subject line. This helps Google find your article and it helps the reader understand what you are writing about quickly. If you have done your keyword research homework, ideally the person who is viewing your headline used your keyword when searching for topics.
Now let’s look at a couple of tools that help with the headline writing process.
1.) CoSchedule Headline Analyzer – this is a free tool that allows you to write your headline, and then they will provide you with suggestions for making your headline better.
CoSchedule provides a useful pdf with 180 power words that help convert called 180+ Power Words For Writing Emotional Headlines.
2.) Hubspot’s Blog Topic Generator – this is a free tool that is provided by the inbound marketing company Hubspot. You include keywords or keyword phrases that you would like in your headline, and they provide you with loads of headline suggestions.
6 key takeaways when crafting a killer clickable headline.
- Length (shorter is better)
- Does it sparks emotion?
- Will the reader learn something?
- Is it shareable?
- Does the character length read well on Google?
- Is the keyword in the title?
To summarize, in order to write headlines that peak interest for readers that are searching for what you are writing about, you need to do your homework. If you follow the steps that I outlined in this article, you will be on your way to creating terrific headlines that more people will interact with.