Did you know that eight out of 10 people never get past the headline? That’s right – only two out of 10 people will actually read your entire blog post or article.
Well, not if you think about it. People get bombarded with thousands of articles, blog posts and ads every day – and that’s just via social media. Of course, every content creator wants people to read their work. But no human could possibly read all that content.
So it’s up to you to win them over instead of your competitors. In other words, it’s up to you to deliver headlines that are so good that everyone who sees them feels compelled to click on them.
No pressure, right?
It may not sound like a walk in the park, but here’s another reason why creating great headlines should be part of your blog strategy: part of those 80 percent who only read the title will still share your post on Facebook or retweet it. Yes, even if they don’t read it. For you, every share and retweet means a new chance of reaching those 20 percent who are willing to read an entire article.
Let’s see how to do this.
7 tips for headlines that get clicks
First off, you need to know that there is no one recipe that succeeds every time and in every field. At my digital marketing agency, we always experiment with the headlines of the articles we write for our clients.
We try to use a few of these tips in a single headline and then “reshuffle” the pile and start again for the next article. It may take some time to get the perfect combination, but you’ll definitely get there.
1. Use numbered lists
Yes, just like this one. A numbered list tells people exactly what to expect. The headline promises seven tips, so the body will deliver them – you need to make sure of that, OK?
Another thing that’s great about numbered lists is that they give you the opportunity to break the text naturally. This way, after you’ve gotten the click you wanted, your reader won’t be frightened by the wall of text that greets him. For busy, hasty readers, this is a great way to skim the text and get the gist with minimal effort.
2. Talk directly to your audience
“Your complete guide for healthy eating” is a headline that’s bound to get more clicks than “The complete guide for healthy eating”.
Of course, your readers know that you didn’t write the article specifically for them. They understand it’s a generic “you”.
But when you say “How to keep your cat healthy in three easy steps” instead of “How to keep cats healthy in three easy steps”, people will automatically think of their own pets. And this is exactly what a good headline does: it stirs emotions and a sense of urgency.
3. Don’t exaggerate with superlative
“The best,” “the funniest,” “the smartest” – all of these superlatives can get you clicks. But never use more than one.
“The absolute best most amazing beaches in the world” is not something I would click on. Would you? It sounds like click bait or, at least, like very bad copy. None of these will help your business!
4. Focus on a single solution or benefit
You don’t need to offer seven, five or even three tips, solutions or ways your audience can achieve something. You can stick to one.
This is something I noticed in some of the SEO copywriters I hire – they struggle really hard to come up with tons of benefits for listicle-type articles. And you can see most of it is fluff. Luckily, we have skilled editors that can catch that early on and get the writer on the right track.
What my editors and I always tell writers who face this dilemma is: “don’t force it.” For instance, you could write an article entitled “Top three ways to protect your skin from sun damage”. But, let’s face it, the safest way to do it is to use SPF cream. So why not say “The safest/best way to protect your skin from sun damage.”
In fact, such a title can be even more appealing in some cases. People learn from the get-go that they will be provided with a single way to solve a problem. It’s simple, it’s easy and people love that!
5. Make sure your claims are backed up
“Three ways to prevent wrinkles and fine lines” is a good headline. “Three science-backed ways to prevent wrinkles and fine lines” is a great headline. Alternatively you can use “data-driven,” “research-backed” or anything similar.
However, you need to make sure you deliver on that title. After all, this is what you should always be doing. Authority content, the type of content that doesn’t just get you clicks, but also leads and clients, is always research-driven. So why not brag about it from the get-go aka the headline?
6. Go emotional
“10 lessons I learned from losing my father” – this is a headline that people can relate to and is an honest, heart-wrecking article.
Don’t be afraid to tell a personal story, even if your blog is a business one. Of course, you don’t have to write sad stories if this doesn’t align with your brand. Funny, inspirational, success stories – all these are bound to get attention. People want to learn from your experience.
And, most importantly, this helps you establish a connection with your reader. Even if you have a B2B company, remember there are actual human beings behind every business and that it’s them you have to connect with.
7. Optimize your headlines for SERPs
A great headline is of little use if it’s hard to discover it. Start optimizing your article from its very title. This means that your headline needs to contain your main keyword – preferably in the beginning.
However, you don’t need to push it. If you’re optimizing for a long-tail, complicated keyword, it’s best if you leave it out of the title. The main goal here is to create attractive headlines.
Headlines that get traffic aren’t a myth
I can assure you of that. I’ve seen it happen for my own blog and for so many of my clients. But, since content writing and content marketing aren’t really exact sciences, you will have to fine-tune your process a bit before you get the result you want.
If you’re not feeling inspired, you can always check BuzzSumo. Even its free version allows you to search for your topic of interest and see which articles got the most traction online. Get inspired by other headlines – there must be something to learn from articles that got several thousand social shares, right?