You only get one chance to make a good impression.
When it comes to content, your headline is the first—and perhaps last—impression you make on a prospective reader. According to Copyblogger, the headline is the most-read sentence of any article – chances are that only 20% of your readers will even make it to the body of your article.
Writing a headline that catches readers’ attention is part art, part science.
An engaging headline can be crafted from a number of proven formulas, but sometimes the best headlines work for no reason at all. Increase your chances of writing a headline that sticks by incorporating numbers, questions, eye-catching adjectives, and action words. A stand-out headline will make the rest of your content shine.
Why a Great Headline Matters
It’s easy to dismiss the importance of an engaging headline. Even the best writers have occasionally been tempted to publish a headline that was simply “good enough”. Take heed though, this is not how you’re going to get anyone to read your content. What’s more, every social update you write is a headline in itself and must sell your content to your readers.
Headlines are important because they serve more than one purpose:
- Hook Readers. Your headline is the first cue of what your article is about. It sets the reader’s expectations for the tone, and style of the article to come. More importantly, your headline tells readers what they will get out of reading your content.
- Drive Traffic. Great headlines will see that more of your content gets read, generating more interest in who you are and what you do. This increased interest will then translate into traffic to your website or blog.
- Rank in Search Engines. Well-crafted headlines are easier to find in search engines. At the very least, you should make sure that your headline isn’t cut off in Google search results.
- Gain Social Shares. The best headlines incite action from their readers. In this case, you want your headlines (and corresponding content) to be so valuable that people will want to share with their greater social networks as well.
Strategies to Make Your Headlines Irresistible
People love to see when an action is correlated with great results. This is why using numbers in headlines has been proven to be so successful. Numbers can be used in your headline as statistics, or to enumerate a number of list items that your article will touch on. A good reason to use list articles: these are among the most-shared type of content, second only to infographics.
Using statistics is another great way to quantify data and inject numbers into your headlines. Statistics in the form of percentages will really generate interest from your readers. When these percentages correlate to the desired result, readers can’t help but click in to find out how.
Source: Help Scout
Incorporate Power Words
Readers are drawn to words that invoke power. Including emotive, punchy adjectives in your headlines is crucial to entice clicks from your readers. Verbs give your headline the energy it needs to grab the reader’s attention. Opt for specific verbs that describe a single action. Your headline is the salesman for your article, and it’s these powerful words that seal the deal.
Some powerful adjectives to try:
When you undertake content marketing, you’re really hoping to write articles that your readers will seek out on purpose. To achieve this, you need to incorporate those search terms in your headlines. All great headlines include a keyword, but the keywords you use are up to you. The more you naturally incorporate your keywords into your article and headline, the easier it will be for searchers to find you.
Ask a Question
With a question, comes an answer. This is the premise behind asking a question in your headline – an answer to the question is implied if readers keep scrolling. Make sure your question-style headlines incorporate the types of questions (and phrasing) that your readers use.
Source: Neil Patel
Offer Education with How-Tos
When a user is searching for a specific type of content, it’s usually because they want to learn how to do something better. This is how you can position your content as answering a specific need for information. An engaging headline offers value and entices the reader to want to know more.
Clickbait is Never OK
Executed correctly, an engaging headline has just enough information to make users want to read the rest of the article, without withholding information or resorting to cheap traffic-building tactics. If your title doesn’t relate directly to the content of your article, this frustrates readers and will hurt your engagement. Over time, this damages the relationship with your reader.
Avoid headlines with any variations of the following:
“You’ll never believe…”
“You will never guess…”
“This will shock you”
“When you find out…”
Use Data to Find the Best Headlines
Wherever possible, you should aim to incorporate data into your marketing strategy. Headlines are no different.
In fact, sometimes it can be better to create two headlines and test them to see which performs best. Content categories are an easy way to test your headlines. Set up one category for test group A, and another for test group B. While experimenting, try to post at the same time of the day, and day of the week, to be able to truly compare one headline to the other.
With the advanced analytics capabilities in SmarterQueue, you can then see at-a-glance which category performed better in terms of likes, shares, and clicks. Use this data to continuously improve your headlines. Plus, use tools like Sharethrough to analyse the impact of your headlines to get more engagement and attention on your posts.
Master the Art of Headlines
Writing an engaging headline doesn’t have to be a struggle. With the right strategies in place, you can create share-worthy headlines every time. Using statistics, together with the right adjectives and verbs will make readers want to dive into your article every time.
SmarterQueue offers the easiest way to share your headlines on social media. With customised posts for every social network, image previews and categories for all your content, it’s the smartest way to do social media. Properly.