That’s a lot of pressure on the headline! When you’re writing headlines, or reviewing headlines from your writer or agency, here’s a quick checklist of facts to keep in mind to help make sure your headline has maximum impact.
Use numbers in a headline
A Google search on virtually any topic will return a smorgasbord of information described by headlines featuring numbers. Yeah, we get that its kind of annoying and kind of done. But here’s the thing: the reason there are so many is that numbers in headlines work. Studies show that headlines with numbers perform 15% higher than the next best performing category. And its not just any numbers. Odd numbers outperform even numbers. Content is proliferating all over the Internet and few readers have enough time to linger anywhere. Readers want to know how many tips they’re going to get in few precious seconds they have skim your blog.
Research headline keywords
There are many free tools available to research keywords with high search volumes. Google’s Keyword Planner and SearchVolume are just two. Compare volumes of keywords and use free planners to decide which words end up in the headline. Follow where the traffic is.
Use the “5 Ws”
Story tellers use What, When, Why, Where and Who deliberately. It is because they’re powerful words which quickly frame what your reader needs to know. We’re adding “how” to the list too because LinkedIn research shows B2B headlines starting with the two words “How to…” far outperform any other combination of words.
We’re re-visiting English class here to remind you that superlatives are adjectives representing the highest kind, order or quality of something. So “best” is the superlative of “good” and “fastest” is the superlative of “fast”. Superlatives influence headlines and research shows that negative superlatives (like “least”, “never”, “stop”, “avoid”, “don’t” and “worst”) attract average click-through-rates of up to 63% more than their positive counterparts. Remember the superlatives when drafting headline options.
Get specific with your headlines
43% of readers out there admit to skimming posts instead of reading them. Which means there’s no time for ambiguity. Your headline needs to clearly call out the pain point the article is addressing.
Not many businesses have time to genuinely market one-to-one these days. In fact, much of the cleverness of contemporary mass marketing is making it feel like its intended for just one, special person. So talk directly to that person by using ‘you’ and ‘your’ in your headlines.
In many work and life arenas we’re counselled to manage our emotions. Headlines is one place where you can get a little emotional. Within limits! We’re looking for words that elicit an emotion in your reader that will cause them to keep reading beyond the headline. Curiosity, urgency, intimacy, special interest and sharing something unique all work. Use headline words which tap into those emotions. Get creative with words like: discover, immediate, instantly, secret, explore, incredible, unknown, reveal, restricted, surprising and mystery.
Copy first, headline last
Some writers we work with claim to spend 20% of time allocated to drafting an article on the text and a healthy 80% on the headline. As you create the draft, the content will take shape under your fingers on the keyboard and your start point might not be your end point. To save yourself the headache of jamming content into a headline that might not fit, create the story and text first and come to the headline last. You might be inspired for a headline while you’re writing, or you might have it appear crystal clear as you finish the text body.
However it emerges, draft up a few options, sleep on it and them pick your favourite one or two.
Finally, make sure the headline represents the body of the story, isn’t clickbait and aligns to these tips for writing amazing headlines. Pair it with your text, a great image aaaaaaaand… publish!!
Contact us if you’re struggling to release the headline your content deserves!