The following is a guest post by Kiara Halligan. Kiara Halligan enjoys her work as a freelance writer at A-Writer. She spends her free time investigating last technology and networking trends to share her knowledge with others.
Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat – headlines and titles are not the same! Recently I’ve been seeing a lot of popular sites forgetting this basic SEO principle. It might have something to do with the fact that content is getting more and more user-oriented; it’s no longer important to impress the algorithm with stellar optimization and keyword-stuffed pages (by the way, this will get you penalized, and fast). Today, you have to impress your readers by offering up pertinent and actionable content that will get them where they are going easier. That said, it doesn’t mean you can ignore titles. Optimize them to the best of your ability and help them get noticed by your audience.
Writing Magnetic Headlines Can Help You Double Your Audience
Your headline is the first line of your text that is going to get noticed. It’s right up there, so it’s quite hard to miss it. Not to mention that it is always larger and bolder than the rest of your text. You have to admit it; a headline has a lot going for it. The sad fact, however, is that nearly 8 out of 10 readers will read a headline and then simply move on from the page, without even skimming through the rest of the content.
Do you know what the average attention span of a reader is today? It’s 8.2 seconds. You read that right. The average attention span of someone visiting your page is less than it takes you to drink a glass of water. You have less than 10 seconds to convince your readers that your content is more than good; you have to convince them that it’s remarkable.
Luckily, you can make your headlines way better if you pay attention to a couple of simple rules.
- Use numbers – research has shown that readers react better to headlines that have a number in them. This is part of the reason why listicles are so popular. If it makes sense to use a number in your headline, find a way to include it.
- Remember the 4 U’s – Four U’s are usefulness, uniqueness, urgency, and ultra-specificity.
- Usefulness – Make sure that your headline promises a resolution of a problem or an answer to a question that the reader is looking for. Don’t offer it flat-out; be bold and let the reader know it’s in the article, but be certain you are to delivering on that promise.
- Ultra-specificity and uniqueness – will help you set yourself apart from a lot of generic stuff that gets posted online on a daily basis. Try to really hone in on one thing that you are an expert in. Strong specific headline leaves no doubt about the topic your article is discussing.
- Urgency – When you have all these elements in line, it’s time to persuade your readers that they have to act fast. You want them to click on that title immediately, otherwise, you’re going to watch them go and never come back.
- Use emotional triggers and powerful adjectives – You want your piece to speak with your readers on a very personal, almost emotional level. Some words have the power to move you, some to make you cry, and some are better at prompting a change than others. Use words wisely because they can make you or break you.
Effective Use of Subheads is a Must
Now that you know how to craft a perfect headline, it’s time to move on another integral part of your text: the subhead. Your headline captured your reader’s attention and now it’s time to keep it focus. People excel at scanning content today. This is a necessity as it is absolutely impossible to go through absolutely everything that peaks your interest in a course of a day.
Subheads keep readers in check, providing a new incentive to keep on reading every once in a while. Just treat every subhead as you would a headline. Think of the paragraph that follows it as a completely separate article. How would you write it?
Good subheads do more than just label text. They grab your attention and force you to keep on reading. They are fun and personal, and they tickle you in a way that makes you more curious. Jon Morrow is a famous blogger who excels at writing captivating subheads and here is an example ‘Exercise #1: Tell your mother to go to hell’. It’s really something, right? Actually, in that particular block of text he goes on to explain a useful writing exercise, but would you read on if he titled it simply ‘A useful writing exercise’? I probably would, but I’m sure that it would lose a ton of traffic from people who are less trusting in nature than I am.
Help your readers’ progress through the article by making subheads interesting, surprising, emotional, and personal. This is by no means easy, but if you are not doing it, you’re producing content that is falling on flat ears. Plus, how great is the content if you can’t sell it in a couple of lines?
Creating excellent articles is both difficult and time-consuming. However, there are some excellent tools on the Internet that you can use to facilitate your work. Some of them are general writing and content marketing tools, while others help you create better titles in a matter of seconds!
Headline Analyzer – This excellent tool is brought to you by Coschedule, a renowned marketing firm. Their headline analyzer will score the overall quality of your headline and tell you what you can expect of it in terms of social shares, traffic, and SEO.
TitleCap – Headlines and subheads need to be properly capitalized to draw the attention of the readers. This simple tool will do the work for you, and you can choose between three different styles of capitalization.
Headline Wizard – This simple tool helps you craft better headlines (and subheads) by delivering eye-catching titles imbued with emotional power-words. All you need to do is input your product/service, goal, and a desirable result and watch it work its magic!
AussieWriter – If you’re overwhelmed with writing, or if there is simply too much to do for you alone, turn to a professional writing service. AussieWriter connects you with excellent writers for an affordable price. The best part is that you will be getting the whole package; excellent content complete with captivating headlines and subheads that are ready for publication!
Topic Generator – Another great tool from HubSpot! Writing and edition is tough, but sometimes you’re going to struggle with something as simple as a blog post idea. If that happens, give this topic generator a try. It will supply you with fresh ideas based on the words you enter. The headlines it turns out are mostly flawless, requiring only a couple of minor tweaks before they’re good to go!
Grammarly – Whatever you are writing, make sure your grammar and punctuation are beyond reproach. To do anything else means risking your authority. Grammarly is an online text editor that will help you avoid most commonly made mistakes that Microsoft Word lets slip!
So now that you know the difference between a headline that attracts and a headline that falls flat on its face, it’s time to analyze how you’ve been doing things. Did your headline crafting benefit from any of our suggestions? Or maybe you have something to add to the discussion. Leave a comment and let us know what you think, we’d love to hear from you!