Headlines can be a real bear to nail down. Not only can it be difficult to come up with a catchy but brief way of describing what your content is about, but there is a lot of added pressure regarding the headline because it’s so darn important for conversion rates as well. In addition to that, the headline itself can often be the only part of your content that people actually read! According to a self-reported study done by the Media Insight Project, roughly six in 10 people admit that they only read headlines.
Okay, so now we know headlines are super important, but how do we write effective ones?
Keep your primary, intended audience in mind during the entire process of content creation and especially target your headlines for them. Is your content intended for social media sharing or are you writing an article you want current visitors on your site to check out while they are browsing? Focusing on your specific goals for the content will help you pin down a more specific audience for your content and the headline you’re creating.
The headline should also emphasize to your audience what the goal of the content itself is, so your readers know whether it is of interest to them or not. So this may seem like a no-brainer, but make sure your headline actually tells the reader what problem your content is solving. Sometimes, you might even be okay with your readers only reading the headline if you just want them to share it on social media and aren’t that concerned with a click through.
Humans are really great at sniffing out BS, so don’t try and load up a plate full of it with a couple of cookies on top. A lot of past practices that were used to snag readers now feel dishonest and slimy to modern readers. “One Simple Trick to Get the Best Body of Your Life” is going to have a lot of noses turned up at it because people are tired of the gimmicks. Be honest and authentic with your readers and avoid clickbait headlines that lead to articles that fail to deliver on the promise made by the headline.
Treat the headline itself like it’s micro-content. Keep it short, realistic and informative. A good headline should be understandable when read completely out of context. If someone happens to see your title from a social media share or in their news feed, they should be able to instantly grasp what the content is about.
You aren’t stuck with the first headline you post. A/B-testing is a great tool for finding out what works best for your content and your brand. Don’t be afraid of changing the headline for your content when you’re pushing it on different mediums. Not everything that works for SEO will work for social media. Just keep testing and keep improving to find what works best for your brand and your audience.