April 8, 2015
The human attention span continues to decline as technology increasingly becomes like an extra appendage. In 2013 it was recorded by the National Center for Biotechnology Information at the U.S. National Library of Medicine that the attention span of people today is approximately 8 seconds, down from 12 seconds earlier in the decade. This trend means one thing to marketers everywhere; get the point across quickly and effectively or lose potential sales.
Today, it is critical for companies to grab the attention of a consumer in a powerful way if there is any hope of conversion. One of the most effective methods to achieve this is through the optimization of taglines and headlines. Headlines and taglines aren’t just a first responder to draw in consumers, they can also have dramatic effects on a company’s rankings in the SERP’s. It is one thing for an organization to develop great content, but it is an entirely different beast to get the content read and ranked, and that is where headlines and taglines become extremely important.
The more clicks a piece receives, the higher it will naturally rank. Grab the attention of readers and search engines alike by taking the following tricks and tips into consideration when content is produced.
Working Titles Draw Interest
A working title should not be (but often is) confused for a topic. Topics are generally somewhat vague and could have multiple outcomes on what the blog post actually covers. In comparison, a working title is quite specific about the content to be found in the post and informs the reader of what to expect.
For example, “10 Rules on How to Create a Successful Brand” would be a working title. This makes the content of the blog very clear, useful, and does not over-reach its boundaries by utilizing barely relevant keywords or false claims. Also, to formulate a working title does not mean to create clickbait; a practice that now overwhelms the internet. Doing so will only cause the viewer to lose trust in the content a business produces. Develop titles that will catch a reader’s attention, but never set them up for disappointment.
Accuracy is Key
Consumers have become savvier than ever before when it comes to shopping for products or content online. As stated before, if clickbait is created to lure in consumers only for the shopper to find that the headline was inaccurate or misleading, trust is sure to be lost and possibly never regained. The most crucial thing to remember when it comes to titles and tags is to respect the reader’s experience.
Keep headlines and taglines as accurate as possible. This will set a clear expectation of what the reader is in store for. It is more important to err on the side of caution, so when a headline or tagline is developed, aim to under promise and over deliver. Accuracy will win out over compelling information almost every time, although, that’s not to say that the headline cannot pop just because it is factual. Here are a couple simple things that can be done to spruce up headlines:
- Utilize strong language. The use of strong language can have a significant impact correlating to the amount of clicks and traffic. As with most things though, moderation is key. The overuse of powerful terminology will simply dilute the entire headline, making it obvious that the headline is more for shock value than honest information.
- Adopt Alliteration. The utilization of this approach will make the appearance of headlines and taglines more appealing and fun to read. It’s a simple tactic, but still highly effective.
- Point to Usefulness. Illustrate to the reader how the information found in the content can help in day to day living or how it can further the reader’s knowledge. “How to” pieces are content gold, but remember to stay accurate and truthful.
- Lists are Powerful: There’s a reason why you see so many “Top 10 Ways Headlines Will Get You Clicks” and “8 Powerful Methods to Headlines that Rank” titles. Lists are attractive because they clearly articulate the content in an easy-to-read fashion. Use them when appropriate, they are a stellar content tactic.
Keep it Short and Sweet
Yes, the reality is that folks have miniscule attention spans now. If a headline or tagline is too long, the reader will lose interest and lose it fast. The truth is, there is no steadfast rule as to how long or short a title should be, although there are some guidelines. To make sure your post ranks exceptionally well, keep the title under 65 characters to ensure that it is not cut short in the search engine results. If the aim is more for social share-ability, stick to around 117 characters.
The best way to find out the title length that works best for your organization and target audience is to simply test it. Experiment with different title lengths and devices. Again, there is no one-size-fits all solution, so play around and see what styles and lengths resonate most with the consumers the campaign is targeted for. This is the biggest mistake companies make; they don’t test the results to see what works best for their demographic. See what your audience responds to, and follow suit.
SEO cannot be forced from taglines and headlines. Twisting a title in an attempt at optimization will often make it sound rather strange, which can then alter great and unique content into a “click deterrent”. The keys to increase a site’s SEO through headlines and taglines lies in simplicity and honesty. Adhere to the above outlined tips for creating better headlines and larger numbers of clicks are sure to follow.
What have you found to be key for generating higher rankings through headlines? Have any tricks or tips that were not mentioned here?
Digital producer, online marketer, community manager, and multi-faceted writer Tina Courtney-Brown has been managing cross-functional teams for online businesses since 1996. Tina has assisted many clients in maximizing online production and marketing efforts, and is a staff writer for SiteProNews, one of the Web’s foremost webmaster and tech news blogs. She’s produced and marketed innovative content for major players like Disney and JDate, as well as boutique startups galore, with fortes including social media, SEO, massively multiplayer games, community management, social networks, and project management. Tina is also a certified Reiki practitioner, herbalist, nonprofit director and spiritual counselor. Learn more at her personal website, or find her on Facebook and Google+.