Only 7 Out of 10 Americans Will Read Your Headline

I completely made that statistic up – BUT – if it caught your eye, that tells you the importance of a headline. If you’re like most entrepreneurs, your time is limited. You have so many things to do and not enough hours in the day. That’s why it’s important to get off on the right foot with a headline that grabs attention and compels people to read more. A good headline can make or break your marketing efforts. And I’m here with 5 easy tips to write the most effective headline possible.

It’s important to write an effective headline because it can make or break your marketing efforts. A good headline will grab attention and compel people to read more.

Something you may not know about me is that part of my education included learning the art of how to count a headline. This was back when headlines and copy in newspapers and magazines (and other printed materials) were being generated by computer, but without the extensive graphic design manipulation that can be done with type now. We had to learn how to determine the quantity of words, letters, spaces would fit into the given space … and that meant being a master wordsmith to be able to relay the information in the article in a way that made the reader want to stop – all while carefully crafting the message so that the headline would fit in the spot allotted. That training has served me – and our clients – very well over the years.

5 easy tips to writing an effective headline

Keep it Short:

The ideal length for a headline is 6 words or less. But of course that can vary based upon what information you’re trying to relay. I have found that the most effective headlines have an ODD number of words. And the most effective copy usually contains the least amount of words.

Use Numbers:

People like lists and they also like statistics. Combining those into your headline can help draw attention to your information.

Use Power Words:

Use words that have a strong emotional impact. Don’t get emotional words confused with those that generate some type of emotion in the reader.

Be Unique:

Don’t use the same headline as everyone else. Don’t use the same headline as everyone else. Don’t use the same headline as everyone else (I think you get it).

Test, Test, Test:

Try different headlines and see which one works best. If you have the capability, do some A/B testing. Promote the same content with two different headlines, either at different times to the same audience or to two different (but otherwise similar) audiences of roughly the same size, and see which one triggers the greatest response.

But really, the best tip is to outsource this marketing task to pros like our team. Your time and focus is better spent elsewhere in your business.

The importance of using keywords in your headline

Long-tail keywords are specific, niche keywords that are more targeted and have a higher conversion rate than short-tail keywords. They are less common and more specific, which makes them easier to rank for on search engines. And since they’re more targeted, they’re also more likely to result in a sale or conversion.

Not only do they help with SEO, but they also help to grab attention and compel people to read more. Remember, we always want to write for PEOPLE first, and search engines second.

While Google’s SEO algorithm has become more sophisticated over the years and doesn’t necessarily need a keyword in the headline to understand what your content is about, making sure that the headline contains something that lets the audience understand what the content is about is what you’re aiming for. They need to understand that your content does, in fact, contain the information they’re seeking. This is actually why Google may now change the title that is shown in search results if their algorithm thinks it needs to in order for the reader to understand that the content contains what they want.

How to write a clickable headline for Social Media

When it comes to writing a clickable headline for social media, it’s important to keep it short and use power words. You should also be unique and test, test, test. There’s a fine line between something that compels the reader to click, and “click bait”. You want to be careful to refrain from the latter.

For Facebook, the ideal length is 25 characters or less. And for Twitter, the ideal length is 140 characters or less (although Twitter can now go longer – but less is always more).

Here are a few examples of headlines that would be perfect for Facebook and Twitter:

  • How to Write an Effective Headline in 5 Easy Steps
  • 10 Ways to Write a Clickable Headline for Social Media
  • The Ideal Length for a Headline on Facebook and Twitter
  • How to Write a Headline that Gets Results
  • 5 Easy Tips to Writing a Clickable Headline for Your Blog Post
  • Why You Need to Use Keywords in Your Headlines

How to make your headline stand out in a sea of content

It can be tough to make your headline stand out in a sea of content. But with a little creativity, it can be done. Here are a few tips to help make your headline stand out:

Use a Unique Font:

Have the opportunity? Change the font on your headline to make it stand out. I don’t recommend that you change up your font constantly on your website. And I don’t recommend that you do this on other platforms as a matter of practice. But anything that looks visually different from everything else going on around it can stand out.

Use Boldface or Italics:

Make your headline stand out by using boldface or italics. You’ll notice that I use these tactics throughout blog articles on my website – and there’s a reason. Bold and italics can draw your eye in an otherwise boring sea of text. I use these strategically to help your eye move from one idea to the next when you’re reading my blog posts. You can use a similar strategy with your headline (and on your website, your headlines should be visually different from your body copy).

Use Different Colors:

Use a different color for your headline to make it stand out. Again, on your website you don’t want an overwhelming number of competing colors. But when appropriate, on your website or on other platforms, you can consider using a different color for your headline to help it stand out in a sea of otherwise conventional text.

Use Emojis:

Add an image to your headline to make it stand out. They say an image is worth 1000 words. This is hard to do with actual images, but you can create a similar impact with emojis. Emojis can be used in most places online – your website, social media, even in an email subject line. Use them strategically.

Use a Quotation:

Use a quote as your headline to make it stand out. On your website, you would want to be careful that you don’t do this as a regular practice since duplicate content (like what you would have when you quote someone else) is frowned upon by Google. Yet itt can be a great strategy for some other platforms. Again, you want to consider the use strategically.

Try a Different Type of Headline:

Change the type of headline you’re using to make it stand out. Always use a statistic like “7 out of 10 people”? Change it up and use a listicle. Always direct the headline positively like “how to increase traffic”? Switch to something more like “mistakes to avoid”. This allows you to test what resonates with your audience more, and also helps you catch their eye so that they aren’t lulled into their brain ignoring what you’re sharing because they subconsciously think they’ve seen it before.

There are five main types of headlines when writing copy:

  • Normal (Ways to Make Drinking Tea More Delightful)
  • Question (What are Ways to Make Drinking Tea More Delightful?)
  • How to (How to Make Drinking Tea More Delightful)
  • Number (30 Ways To Make Drinking Tea More Delightful)
  • Reader-Addressing (Ways You Need to Make Drinking Tea More Delightful)

In research done by Conductor, they found that people prefer headlines with numbers almost double any other type of headline. Headlines with a number were clicked 36% of the time; reader-addressing 21%; how to 17%; normal 15%; and a question 11%.

Of course, you will want to test and determine what works best for your audience.

Use a Headline Generator:

There are a number of different headline generators available online. These can be a lifesaver for me when I’m just not feeling quite as creative (we all hit that point). I like using the ones from HubSpot, CoSchedule, and Advanced Marketing Institute.

Write a Play on Words:

Try to write a play on words for your headline. Whether you use a pun, a double entendre, homonyms, these can help you get a bit more creative with your headline in a fun way.

A case study on how a good headline can increase traffic by 297%

A while back, we did a quick and dirty study on how changing the headline can impact traffic.

One of the things we do for clients who have some of our more holistic marketing services is curate their existing content. This basically means we share it more than once after creating it; or in the case of clients who come to us with plenty of existing content, we create a plan to reuse that content in combination with creating new content.

Some of our clients have relatively large audiences, and combined with curating content means we have a perfect opportunity for A/B testing.

We took a piece of content for one client, consisting of only headline, brief description, and link (we didn’t use images because we didn’t want the same image distracting the audience, and we didn’t want to change images since we were only testing ONE element – like you want to do in most A/B tests). We split the large audience in half (working carefully to keep relatively the same demographics in each set). Everything else remained the same.

  • Group 1 received the headline – “Host a Successful Event”
  • Group 2 received the headline – “How to Sell More Tickets and Increase Event Attendance”

Can you guess which one performed better?

The second headline generated three times the number of clicks as the first.

Headlines are one of the most important parts of your content. Not only do they help with SEO, but they also help to grab attention and compel people to read more. With these easy tips, you can write headlines that are sure to get results!

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