How to write the best click-worthy headlines for blog posts and articles
With attention spans averaging 8 seconds, it’s never been more important to incorporate engaging and SEO-optimized headlines to convert web browsing, thumb-hovering answer-seekers into click-through readers. Quality headlines are one of the strongest tools at a marketer’s disposal and can make or break your audience’s decision to visit your content.
As David Ogilvy stated in his novel, Confessions of an Advertising Man, “On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”
Let’s uncover the basics of what a headline is, what makes a headline so powerful for your content, and how you can guarantee that your headlines are click-worthy for your readers.
What is a headline?
A headline is a first impression, a decision-maker, a creator of intrigue… or the rough that hides a diamond from view. There are different types of headlines within a piece of content (specifically a blog post), that relate to the titles of the sections of content.
Every headline should grab the reader’s attention and engage them enough to continue reading the content. Headlines also directly impact your content’s SEO ranking and are commonly referred to as headers or subheaders, depending on the type.
More to come on those — keep reading!
What are the different headline types?
Within a blog or piece of long-form digital content, an H1 refers to the title. An H2, H3, H4, etc., are commonly known as subheaders, which help to structure the content within the article.
The more subheader depth you have (including H1, H2, H3, H4, in an organized format), the better. This is particularly important for SEO optimization as well.
Here’s an example of how they would appear in a blog post:
How to write strong headlines within blog or website content
A strong headline perfectly sets up both expectations of what’s to come and intrigue to click through and keep reading. The following are must-do steps for crafting scroll-stopping blog and article headlines.
Elements of a good headline:
- How-tos, numbers, guides, and lists typically perform well. Even if you think they’re cheesy, the results of these headlines speak for themselves. Remember: This is for your audience, not for you (who already knows all the details within the post).
- The top-performing H1s are lists (X Reasons To…), How-Tos, and Guides.
- The headlines include your target keywords. This is especially important for H1s, but also for subheaders. Do keyword research ahead of time, and be sure to target keywords that people are actively searching for based on the blog post topic.
- Focus on how a reader will benefit from the post. Words like Tips, Reasons, Lessons, Tricks, Ideas, Ways, Principles, Facts, Secrets, and Strategies are strong options.
- Think: “Why should this audience pay attention?” Be specific, clear, unique, and make it seem slightly urgent. Tap into that emotional “I need this!” impulse of the reader.
- Don’t write negative or doomsday-y. Your marketing strategy should focus on taking an empathetic approach in order to motivate and inspire readers whenever possible.
- 10 to 13-word headlines drive twice as much traffic and 1.5x more shares than shorter ones (< 7 words).
- Think about the following things: what, who, why, how, when, where.
- What topic are you talking about?
- Who is the content intended for?
- Why is the topic important?
- How is the challenge solved?
- When is the information relevant?
- Where does the information take place?
- A good formula is to address at least two of the above questions in your H1, but no more than four. Three is usually a good number to aim for.
- Decide whether your headlines are going to be title-case or sentence-case in terms of capitalization and then keep it consistent across all content. This is a minor detail (and doesn’t affect SEO performance) but goes a long way with the aesthetic of your page.
Three examples of high-quality blog titles
Before you can hit the ground running with your content marketing strategies, you need to take the time to set up and optimize your LinkedIn company page. Follow these steps to get started.
- How to balance team workloads before resourcing becomes a major problem
This is a how-to title, which historically performs well. It’s clear who this content is for (managers), what they are going to learn about (balancing workloads), when it becomes relevant (prior to a common team challenge), and why it’s important (to avoid resource challenges).
It has 11 words, which fits within the ideal length range of 10-13 words. It targets a number of keyword variations: ‘balance team workloads’, ‘team workloads’, ‘team resourcing’.
2. 13 Google analytics dashboards to help you monitor your site metrics
This is a list title, which historically performs well. It’s clear who the content is for (people who monitor websites), what the topic is (site metric monitoring), and how to achieve your goal (using Google Analytics). It has 11 words, which fits within the ideal length range of 10-13 words.
It targets a number of keyword variations, ‘google analytics dashboards’, ‘monitor site metrics’. It’s intriguing and gives the reader a clear vision of what the content will offer them (the dashboards they need for success).
3. Lead generation 101: A beginner’s guide to generating inbound business leads
This is a guide title, which typically performs well. It’s clear who this content is for (lead generation beginners), what the topic is (generating business leads), and how it’s achieved (inbound). It has 11 words, which fits within the ideal length range of 10-13 words.
It targets a number of keyword variations, ‘lead generation’, ‘generating business leads’, ‘inbound lead generation’, ‘guide to generating leads’, ‘beginner lead generation guide’.
How to check if your headline passes the human + search test
The human + search test means that the headline should be intriguing enough for people to want to read it, and optimized enough for search engines to rank it highly.
Coschedule Headline Analyzer is a free tool that is a do-not-skip part of this headline creation process. Write up to 20 headline options (yes, 20!), choose the headlines you like best, and type them into the analyzer. They’ll give you a readability score, show which keywords are most likely to be read by the reader, and most importantly, a preview of what it looks like in Google search. Always aim for a score of 70 or higher. The higher the score, the better.
I followed these steps, now what?
Once you have a few H1s that are strong contenders, type them directly into Google. Take a look at the top-ranking brands — are they your competitors?
Read through the top-ranking content — does your content provide a unique perspective? What is the word count of the top-ranking content? If yours is shorter in length, it likely will not competitively rank.
When in doubt, provide a few options for H1s and compare their respective CoSchedule scores and target keyword research. Then, decide what the strongest option is.
Strong headlines convert browsers into readers
As you can see, crafting a strong headline is more than just stringing together a few words and calling it a day. Sparking curiosity with a compelling headline is the key to grabbing a reader’s attention in the deep waves of the content seas.
Spending extra time researching and experimenting with creating strong headlines can pay off in the long run, and ultimately be the deciding factor if anyone reads the content within it.
Remember, while it’s great to optimize your headlines for Google search and rank, always make sure that your content matches the promised offer on the other side of the click.
Aimtal is an online marketing agency specializing in content creation and digital campaign creation & execution.