Writing a great blog post is more than filling it with outstanding content. In fact, many will argue that the quality of the headline is more important than what is in the body. After all, if the headline is not catchy or at least interesting, there is a high chance that no one will click to read the rest of the post, regardless of how good the information is. And, with studies showing only 20% of readers going on to read a blog post after viewing the headline, getting them right is critical.
If you are into writing blog posts, or plan to, creating suitable headlines will likely take up a good portion of your time. Coming up with headlines people want to click is an art in and of itself. It is a skill that takes practice. To help you get on the right path, here are some tips to follow that can help you write irresistible headlines to make your blog posts more appealing.
Introduce the benefit to the reader in the headline
Sometimes keeping things a bit mysterious may seem to be a good idea. But in our current world that is flooded with information, attention spans are at a minimum. Therefore, some readers will want to know what’s in it for them. What new information will they learn by reading your article? How will it improve their lives?
A headline such as “How to Properly Mount a Flat Screen TV on the Wall,” for instance, offers a clear benefit where people who have never mounted a television on a wall will now learn how to do it. The reader does not have to wonder whether this blog post is for them because the benefit is right in the headline.
Start with a number
The studies are clear – people are simply obsessed with numbers. Whether it is an email subject line, magazine article title or a blog post headline, starting it off with a number often improves the click rate. That’s why listicles and guides are widely used by websites such as BuzzFeed and PopSugar. Numbers make headlines more intriguing and interesting. Moreover, they suggest to the reader that there are several benefits to be had, whether it is “10 Best Home-Cooked Meals to Prepare on Your First Date” or “3 Uncanny Stock Market Tricks Used by Pro Traders.”
Follow the 4-U principle
The 4-U formula, created by Melanie Duncan, is one that many bloggers have come to embrace due to its effectiveness when creating headlines. Its use is based on generating value for the reader around four words that begin with the letter U:
Useful: These are headlines that let the reader know the article is geared at solving a problem they might be having or helping them achieve a result. If you have an idea of the things that are of great concern to your target audience, creating useful headlines – and accompanying content in your blog posts – will be less challenging. “How to Restore a Worn Leather Sofa to Like-New Condition” is one example of a useful headline.
Urgent: If you listen to news headlines on CNN or other outlets, you will realize that the presenters tend to put a lot of urgency in what they are saying. They compel viewers to wait for the rest of the story. Consider the following headline: “Scientists Discover New Drug to Fight Insomnia – The Details Right After this Short Break.” Here, the urgency is created right at the end by telling viewers they will get to learn more about the drug after a short break. With that said, headlines that demonstrate urgency are usually time-based or suggest how to get something done right away.
Unique: When someone looks up a search term on Google, they are often inundated with results. Sometimes they may click on the first article or website, but more often than not they will scroll through a few of the results to choose the one that grabs their attention. This is where making your headlines unique comes in. For instance, there are a ton of articles written about computer maintenance, such as “How to Clean Your Cache” or “Installing the Latest Updates on Your Laptop.” However, a more unique headline such as “How to Keep Your Computer Happy and Healthy” puts a unique spin on what the article is about, which could make it more interesting to the average reader.
Ultra-Specific: This goes back to the earlier point of hinting to the reader what specific benefit they will be getting by reading your blog post. Creating ultra-specific headlines is about drilling down into the needs of your target audience to find the little things that really bug them. What tools do they need to improve their work? What else can they do to make more money, apart from all the obvious tactics? What new ways of doing something common can they try to achieve better results? Many ultra-specific headlines tend to have numbers in them, but some explain in detail how to get or do something.
Most headlines won’t contain all the elements of the 4-U formula at once, but by focusing on at least one, there is a higher likelihood of creating something that gets clicks.
Place relevant keywords in the headline
Using keywords in your headline serves two purposes. For one, they will jump out at people who are looking for that same keyword in their online searches. Secondly, they will help get your post ranked on search engines. For example, “Why Brushing Your Teeth With Baking Soda is Good for You” contains the keywords “brushing your teeth with baking soda.” This means if someone types in that exact phrase, there is a high chance that your article will be among those shown to them by Google.
Of course, SEO worthiness also depends on how the keyword is used in the rest of the article, but placing your main keyword in the headline definitely increases its chances of being clicked.
Most professionals in the writing field know the importance of crafting powerful headlines. Becoming good at it will certainly put you on a path to blogging success, so it is in your best interest to practice writing high-quality headlines.
Until next time!
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