• 22 Jun 2016
  • 5 Min read

3 essential tips for creating clickable headlines

We’ve all been there — writing a great bit of content full of helpful advice and superb insights, only to flounder at the final hurdle, the headline. There are times that inspiration just won’t strike, and you end up with an uninspiring title that probably won’t catch anyone’s attention.

The importance of coming up with a killer header can’t be emphasised enough — according to Copy Blogger, 80% of people don’t even make it past the title and into the content itself. So if your headline isn’t up to scratch, you risk losing a lot of potential readers. However, with a little more effort, you could get a lot more traffic through the door.

So what can you do to come up with headlines worthy of your great content? Well, we’ve decided to give you a helping hand by sharing three great tips to get you on the way to writing ace titles. Read on to find out more.

Start with optimisation first

Unless someone is specifically visiting your website, there is a good chance that a good chunk of traffic to your content will come from people using Google to search for a related topic. It is also important to remember that, according to HubSpot, 60% of organic search clicks go to the top three results on a search page. For this reason, it is important to not only have a headline that will capture someone’s attention when they are going through their search findings, but to also come up with a headline that will rank highly and therefore have more chance of being clicked.

Use tools like AdWords to find which keywords are the most searched for your topic and include them near the front of your title. Doing so will do two important things, the first of which is to let Google know that your page should rank for searches relevant to the topic of your content. If you have these words in your headline, Google will be able to see exactly what your article is about, and will be more inclined to include your content in results when that topic is searched.

Secondly, including keywords near the beginning of your headline, you will benefit from the fact that people typically scan the first few words of a title when scanning results, based on research by Nielsen Norman Group. You should also look to include keywords in your meta description and page URL, which will also help to point search engines in the right direction to your page as something that is relevant to a potential reader’s search.

Use numbers in your headlines

A survey by Conductor that was published on the Moz blog found that 36% of people preferred the headlines that included a number at the beginning. For your potential reader’s brain, a number is appealing because it signifies data that is already organised into a logical order.

Going further, your brain also prefers numbers in digit format than written, and it likes small numbers, which seem more digestible than larger ones. For these reasons, a headline like ‘The 5 best microwaves on the market’ will get more immediate recognition than ‘The five best microwaves on the market’, or even ‘The 15 best microwaves on the market’.

In research published by the Content Marketing Institute, it was found that the human brain is more inclined to place more trust in a headline that includes an odd number. The research found that a headline that originally contained an even number that was changed to an odd received a 20% higher click-through rate. It seems that the human brain puts more trust into an odd number, giving them more authenticity.

This probably stems from the notion that an odd number feels more precise than an even number. Comparing ‘7 great microwaves for your kitchen’ to ‘10 great microwaves for your kitchen’, the headline with seven products sounds like there is a good chance that they have been carefully selected, rather than ten, which sounds like it could have been padded out with non-essential products. You can use the findings of this research to improve your headline and increase your click-through rate.

Don’t settle for the first headline you come up with

If you are willing to settle on the very first headline that you come up with for your piece of content, you are almost definitely missing out. There is a very good chance that if you put in a little bit more effort into your headline writing you can come up with something much better. Upworthy, a media website that specialise in shareable content, encourage their writers to come up with 25 headlines for each article that they write, before choosing one that is the best.

While it may not be practical to come up with 25 headlines before you write your content, you should at least try and think of a few. Brainstorm ideas before, during, and after the writing process, as you never know whether something you end up including in your article will inspire a superior headline to the one that you have been working with from the beginning.

You should try different techniques to hook your reader in to your headline ideas too, such as questions, rationales, and numbers. Try out addressing your audience directly to make it sound more engaging, for example ‘Everything you need to know about…’. It can also be effective to speak directly to your desired audience, e.g. ‘Everything drivers need to know about…’. Don’t be afraid to experiment and chop and change your ideas — trying out different combinations will help you to come up with the best headline possible.

Do you still feel like you could do with some extra help with your headline writing? We can help you to produce high-quality content for website, as well as help you create an effective content strategy. Get in touch or connect with us on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn, or Google+.

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