Headlines are the most important part of any content. The job of a headline is two-fold, they have to hook a reader and get them to take the action of reading further.
Why do successful headlines work?
They provide information and also create a sense of curiosity that forces the reader to take action. The pain of not satisfying their curiosity is worse than moving on to the next article.
Part of this challenge is that traditional writers approach to content is no longer what people are looking for. Traditional writers concentrate on being the one and only authority. How often do you see stories created with supporting illustrations and links out to other relevant content on other publications? You might be seeing this appear more frequently today than you did 5 years ago and in another 2 years it will be commonplace.
The traditional writer has the job of keeping a reader in one place. Modern digital habits are about helping the reader get to what they want as quickly as possible. Authority is now created by the locations that give the reader what they need and direct them to more detailed content. These are the sites that get “linked to” more often and they are the ones that need the best headlines.
A headline’s tone should reflect the story and be conversational. The job of a headline is to start the reader off on a journey that they cannot stop reading. The idea is that headlines can talk to your readership in more direct ways than they do in traditional writing. A good headline is of benefit to readers on all platforms
1- Consider your value proposition
What is your value proposition? What problems do you solve that prospects and customers need?
2- Use the right keywords
Determine what keywords are appropriate for the content and what are trending topics around that subject
3- Follow the “2 second rule”
In 2 seconds of looking at your headline, can the reader easily know what the content is about and be intrigued?
4- Don’t waste space
“filler” words are just wasting valuable characters. Words like an, and, the, to etc. make headlines clunky, keep it punchy and to the point.
5- Make one promise and make one point
Don’t try and do too much in your headline. Make one point and keep it interesting. Use clear value promises so the reader knows what they will get.
6- Use sub-headings
Do not be afraid to use a sub-headline to break up content and bring context to the next paragraph. This can be used to great effect at the beginning of your content. Use Sub-heads to break up concepts into bite sized chunks. This approach helps the reader naturally section readable pieces and improves understanding.
7- Test again and again
After thinking all of these points, create several variations on your headline. Run a few A/B tests. Every couple weeks for a set period of time try to swap your headlines around. Keep track of which headline you used when. Then go back through your analytics data and see if any one headline attracted more views, links or citations.
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