The headline that you choose for your blog post can be just as important as the content in determining how popular it is. The right headline will make your blog posts irresistible, whereas the wrong headline will bury your content. Here’s what you need to know in order to construct the perfect headline.
Make It Engaging And Actionable
The primary purpose of a headline is to draw the reader in and encourage them to read the rest of an article. If you want your headlines to be effective in this regard, then you need to make them both engaging and actionable.
For example, entitling your blog post as “How to do X” immediately signals to the reader that the article is going to be practically useful to them. It also implies a degree of interactivity, as you will be walking them through a particular process.
You can also make your more headlines more engaging by adding an element of mystery or intrigue to them. Consider the example of a blog post that is titled “The Stalker’s Guide To Professional Guest Posting”. The word stalker immediately stands out as it is a word that has heavy negative connotations. Someone coming across that headline for the first time will instantly wonder why a stalker would be making a guest post, and why any website would want to advise a stalker on how to do so efficiently. This intrigue and mystery are enough to get many people to click through and read the rest of the blog post just to answer these questions.
As always when it comes to online content, it pays to know your audience. Knowing your audience means knowing how to address them and how to speak to them. Some audiences will demand relatively formal titles, but if your audience is likely to be open to the use of slang or energy language in your headlines then feel free to work these in. Using the right tone with your audience will go a long way toward improving their engagement with your content.
Set Appropriate Expectations
When you are constructing a headline, it can be tempting to go for superlative language. For example, why describe your list of tips as being “good” when you could describe them as being “essential”? Or, if you are writing a blog post about book recommendations, why would you describe the books you are recommending to people as being “great” when you could describe them as being “the best”? We intuitively feel that these superlatives are going to make our audiences more likely to read our content. However, there is a very fine line that you need to trade here.
What you want to avoid is the Donald Trump syndrome. This is when you describe absolutely everything around you as being “the best” or “beautiful”, to the point where the words lose all meaning. If every single listicle that you posted on your website is claiming to be ‘essential’ then your audience will soon become desensitized to the term.
Instead of doing this, try to construct headlines that set realistic expectations for your audience. Not only will this make it much less likely that they will be disappointed by your content, but they will also trust you much more readily when you tell them that you are offering essential advice to them.
Make It Short And Sweet
The most common mistake that people make when it comes to writing headlines for their blog posts is to go overboard and construct needlessly long and complicated titles. Remember, a headline is not supposed to summarise the blog post in its entirety, it is simply meant to convince the reader to carry on through the rest of the article. Using a headline that is short and sweet and to the point makes this a whole lot easier.
It is also important to appreciate the subtle difference between a headline for an online blog post and a headline for a print article. In the case of a print article, the reader has the entire article in front of them already. In order to go from reading the headline to reading the article itself, all they need to do is lower their eyes slightly. On the other hand, when most people are reading an online blog headline, they need to take an additional action in order to access the main article. Even if this action is just clicking a link, this tiny barrier can still deter some people from transitioning from the headline to the Post itself.
Don’t Go Crazy With Your Keywords
Keywords are a central part of any blog owner’s life. No matter what kind of blog you operate or how you approach your content creation, keywords are going to play an essential part in the process. However, any experienced blog owner already understands that there is a delicate dance that needs to be done between hitting your keyword targets and keeping your content organic and readable.
Over the last decade or so, Google has introduced a number of changes to its SEO algorithms to try and encourage content creators to write for human users and not for search engines. As a result, the humble keyword is beginning to take a backseat to more nuanced measures that are used to assess the value of content to an audience. This means that keyword stuffing doesn’t just produce diminishing returns, it is now actively harmful to your SEO efforts. Don’t shy away from using keywords altogether, but make sure that you are working them in organically and using them sparingly.
Choosing the right headline for your posts can have a significant impact on your audience’s engagement with them. If you want your audience to routinely read your posts in their entirety, then mastering the art of the effective headline is going to be essential. Google’s decision to reduce the prominence of keywords in SEO means that bloggers are now free to focus on constructing headlines and content that are written purely for their human users with minimal considerations given to search engines. The tips we have outlined above will help you to get started on constructing killer headlines every time.