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Are Your Headlines Awful? Is It Costing Your Business?

When writing a piece of content for your blog or someone else’s, far and away the most important component of the entire piece is the headline.  Why?  Because 8 out of 10 people will read your headline and nothing else.  Only 2 people in 10 will bother with the rest of what you wrote.  The reason?  Most people just don’t spend enough time on their headlines.  They’re not compelling and they don’t “pop.”  If they don’t pop, they’re not going to compel the reader to bother with the rest, no matter how good you think it is.SEO8

This is a classic case in point for why quality is always more important than quality.  It frankly doesn’t matter if you’ve got a thousand blog posts, if nobody’s reading what you have to say.  You could save a lot of time by writing less and saying more with the blog posts you do write.  The next logical question then, is how do you go about creating compelling headlines.

There’s no one “right way,” but if you’re mystified as to how or where to begin, then one excellent way to get better at it is to browse big, popular sites and look at what they’re doing.  Pay attention to how their headlines are put together.  You’ll start to see some trends very quickly.  Most are provocative.  Most ask a question (see above) that hints at providing the answer to it in the body of the piece.

Another source for great headline instruction is Upworthy  (http://www.upworthy.com/ ).  This site lives and dies by its headlines, and it has a reputation for making stories go viral, so they know what they’re doing here.  Create a “slush file” of titles that grab your attention and make you want to click into the details of the story.  Start emulating the approaches that grabbed your attention and using them to title your own blog posts.  You will be amazed at the results.

Remember, at the end of the day, the only good content is content that someone reads.  If it’s not being read, then you’re wasting your time.  The headline is the pivotal component that determines if or whether a visitor is even going to bother with the rest of your piece, so you need to get really good at that aspect of the writing.  Even big-name bloggers can’t get away with writing sub-standard headlines for very long.  The name recognition might bring in a few more visitors, but the effect is nothing compared with a good, attention grabbing headline.

 After you’ve established a slush file, practice writing good headlines, and keep the following in mind:

  • Six is your magic number. This is the ideal length for a headline.  This is because when people are scanning headlines, they typically only take in the first three and the last three words.

Remember that anything over 65 characters is going to be cut off in the search results

Use hard hitting adjectives like, “effortless,” “strange” “absolute” “unique” and “weird”

Use words that tap into insecurities like “No,” “without,” and “stop” as appropriate to your content.

Ask the reader a compelling question, then answer it with your post.

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