If you are looking for clicks on your website or blog, then it’s absolutely essential that you create winning headlines.
A good headline isn’t just a few fancy words to top off your article or summarize what it’s about, instead, it’s your opportunity to grab your readers’ attention –and your only shot at convincing them that it’s worth their time to see what you have to say.
According to Copyblogger, 80% of your visitors, on average, will read your headline –but only 20% will stick go on to read the article. So it makes sense to spend some time getting this right. Your headline is your chance to get as many of these visitors as possible on to your blog content –so it’s worth spending some time to get this right.
If you’d like to help make your articles more click-worthy, then you’ll want to start with the titles. Here’s a look at some tips that’ll help you to create amazing titles that get noticed, (almost!) every time.
Tip #1: Include Numbers or Figures
The numbers are in and the data is clear! Starting your headline with a specific number is an old trick, but it’s been shown to help make titles more readable and attractive to readers.
Research has shown that headlines that include numbers tend to generate 73% more social shares and engagement! Not too bad.
One huge reason for the success of numbers in headlines is because numbers are like “brain candy” to us. According to Debrah Jason, “Our brains are attracted to numbers because they automatically organize information into a logical order.” After all, when a reader sees a number, it allows them to gauge the approximate length and depth of an article, giving them a clear idea on what they’re in for. So use numbers whenever they fit.
There’s also a substantial amount of research showing that odd numbers do especially well. No doubt you’ve noticed the proliferation of odd numbers when it comes to headlines.
Some research shows that odd numbers tend to perform especially well –particularly number 7!
Also note, if you are using the word “seven,” replace it with the number “7” in the title. So instead of writing “Seven Ways to Optimize Your Abandoned Cart Recovery,” use “7 Ways to Optimize Your Abandoned Cart Recovery.”
For step-by-step guides, you’ll usually want to avoid going over nine steps. The brain has a tough time processing more than nine items at a time.
Tip #2: Keep It Short and Sweet
The best length for your title will depend on what your goals are for your content. Generally, though, shorter and more succinct titles are the way to go.
Are you looking to rank well in search? Then you really need to keep your titles less than 83 characters. After that, Google just stops reading.
Looking to go viral and optimize for social sharing? According to analysis by HubSpot, headlines between 8–12 words got the most Twitter shares on average. When doing a Facebook headline, they found that headlines with either 12 or 14 words obtained the most Likes.
Furthermore, headlines with eight words had a 21% higher click-through rate than the average title, according to research by Outbrain.
The key takeaway here? It’s never a bad idea to run some tests and see what works best for a particular audience, but in most cases, you’ll want your title to be just as long as it needs to be –and no longer.
Start with your working title, and slowly boil it down to only the essentials words to get your point across. Make it easy for your readers to read.
Tip #3: Be Creative and Provide a Unique Rationale
Give the reader a reason to click on your headline. Present a unique rationale for following through and seeing what your content has to offer. After all, this is a sales proposition. Why should they give you some of their time and attention?
Realize that 89% of blog posts receive less than 100 shares. That means you must convince your readers to click. The competition is strong.
(SHere are a few key words that you can include in your headlines, things that’ll inspire and motivate your readers to take action:
Here are some practical examples:
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- · Tip #4: Think About How People Use Search
- The most surefire way to ensure that your content can be found easily is to make sure your titles align with the how people use search engines.
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Over time search engines have become more adept at analyzing keywords and contextualizing the context and intent behind a search. That being said, simply cramming your title with keywords isn’t going to be enough to see SEO success.
When creating titles, your best bet is to tailor your title for your readers, yes, actual humans, rather than search engines. The more intuitive Google’s algorithms get, the more they’ll work to prioritize things that your audience will be interested in anyways. So if it’s good for your human audience, it should be good for search engines as well.
A few tips to start off with:
- Use Google Search Console or Google Trends to see what your target audience is actually searching for, and create your headline to match
- Place your buyer persona (your searcher) first and create titles around the questions they’re likely to search (such as ‘What is Conversion Rate Optimization?’)
- Try to present the challenge topic and the solution in one concise heading
- Take pains to ensure that your headline still resonate with the buyer’s pain and challenges
- You still need to use keywords, but use them strategically and at the beginning of the title to grab the reader’s attention
- And of course, it should go without saying, you should always try to make your content sound as natural and human as possible.
Tip #4: Make a Bold Statement
It may seem cliché, but the shock factor sells. And if your content can hold up to your headline’s promises, then this is a surefire way to get high click-through rates.
How can you spice up your title? Word it in a way to instantly draws readers in. Try to make a bold, opinionated, or even in some cases, a controversial statement. Just take care that you’re not going TOO controversial, remember: anything you post online, you should be ready to stand behind as a business, so make sure you don’t start a controversy that you wouldn’t be happy to support as a brand.
Tip #5: Perform Some Competitive Research
Spend a little time researching your topic and what your competitors have written. See what headlines are currently ranking in Google, based on your topic. How have they structured their copy? How can you make yours better?
You need to be asking these types of questions in order to write compelling, clickable headlines. If your headline isn’t standing out from the crowd, chances are it’s not going to help you gain any traffic.
Perform a simple Google search on your keyword and see what pops up in that #1 ranking. Another great tool is to research your keyword/topic is Buzzsumo, a content curation tool. See which article went viral and were shared? Why do you think this was the case?
Remember that a fantastic headline will drive individuals to share and comment on your content. We’re all headline readers at heart right? Be sure to research what other are doing. See what is working and replicate it.
Tip #6: Create an Air of Mystery
You don’t always have to give up your main takeaway in your title. In fact, I’d suggest you do the opposite. Divulge just enough to hook the reader to get the click-through and read the rest of your content.
Now, don’t get so carried away that you make false promises to your audience, or imply that your content is somehow greater than it is. Nothing will drive your readers away faster!
Always treat your audience with the dignity and respect they deserve. Make sure you’re providing enough information to build interest, but not to the extent that the reader feels fully informed just by reading the headline.
Tip #7: Use Descriptive Adjectives
Whenever you have the opportunity to use a descriptive, or exciting adjective –do it! Describe what you’re going to tell your audience, avoid bland, vague descriptions that include words like “stuff, things” instead –find words that are more engaging, and exciting. “Exciting, simple, tragic, incredible…” on and on it goes. Make your audience want to click through to learn more.
Tip #8: Know Which Special Characters to Avoid
For a variety of reasons that we will soon get into, there are certain special characters you can use in your headline and some that you avoid using.
These are the special characters that are a welcome addition to any post titles: single dash (-), colon (:), question mark (?), exclamation mark (!)
Why so and how? Let’s explain:
- The single dash (-) is used to separate words in your headline
- The colon (:) can be used to separate words in titles
- The oft-used question mark (?) usually used when a title demands an answer, meaning the title itself, is a question.
- The exclamation point (!) this (overused) character is ideal when a title is meant to make the reader excited about something.
Now for the bad list. These are the special characters that CANNOT and SHOULD NOT be added in post titles: Greater than/Less than Symbols (< and >), Ampersands (&), the “At” Symbol (@) and the Pound Sign or Hash (#).
Here is the lowdown of these NO USE special characters and why they are no-nos.
The Greater Than and Less Than Symbols (< and >): These two are used as tags to enclose HTML elements for coding. Since this is usually used in text formatting, styling, and other markup languages, these characters, when used on your headline, cuts off your title URL.
Ampersands (&): This is another coding issue. Using the & will make your post title URL to error out because you will confuse the web browser on where your HTML code either begins or ends
The “At” Symbol (@): The “At” Symbol (@) is typically used with email addresses. Therefore, when it’s written as @ in post title URL, it will confuse the RSS reader or the web browser which interprets it as part of an email address instead of a web address.
Pound Sign or Hash (#): This character is designed to work specifically on links in certain sections of web pages.
Essentially, adding any of these special characters (apart from the ones I specified earlier) on your headline will kill your chances of getting your blog ranked by Google and your post translated properly by web browsers; plus all of the above all will confuse your readers.
So there you have it! Eight tips for creating exciting titles. When drafting up your posts, I find it works well to start with a working title, a rough draft if you will. Then, once you’re finished, you can revisit that title to adjust it, and see if you can help to liven it up, and find something that’s a bit more exciting than the normal, everyday titles that we see so often.
In the end, ask yourself “Is this something I’d click on myself?” If the answer’s “no,” then it’s back to the drawing board to find something that’s more appealing.
How do you come up with winning titles?
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