There’s a lot of content out there. For every topic that you have, there are usually dozens of answers on Google. While Google places the most clicked on and best answers at the top of your search feed, it’s up to you to decide which one fits your need the best. How you determine that is up to you, but for a majority of the population, a headline can be the thing that makes them read an article, or skip it altogether.
Without changing your content, there are ways to make sure your blog posts and articles get more reads. It all starts with the headline.
Things to Keep In Mind When Writing a Headline
The first thing you want to do when you craft a headline is think about who your article is aimed at, i.e. your audience. You also want to look at where you plan to post this headline, i.e. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. Those are two very important factors that play a role in shaping your headline.
A Pinterest post probably needs a number or a list, while the Facebook post probably wants to pose a problem and offer a solution. The same article can have different headlines depending on the medium you’re sharing it on.
And that leads us to the types of headlines that will get readers clicking.
Headline Type 1: The Question
This one’s great because you’re teasing an issue and then it’s inferred that you’re going to help a person fix that issue. Take this headline for instance, “Do You Make This Common Mistake When Writing Your Blog?”
First off, you’re not saying what that common mistake is the reader needs to click to find out. After you point out what the common mistake is, it’s almost natural that you show the reader how to fix it.
You can also change the headline to say, “The Common Mistake Most Bloggers Make and How to Fix It”. Admittedly, there’s no real question, but it’s an inferred question. You’re making the reader think, “Am I making a mistake while writing my blog? Does this article talk about the mistake I’m making? Is my blog doomed if I don’t fix it?”
These questions and inferred questions are designed to draw a reader in.
Headline Type 2: Solve a Problem
There are keywords that you use when you create headlines that solve a problem. You use words like “best”, “most important”, “better”, etc. Your entire goal is to point out that there’s a better way for someone to do a task. It is, “The Best Way to Write a Headline” or “The Hottest Trend in Marketing Today”. You are offering the reader the best solution, even if there’s not really a problem.
Headline Type 3: The Numbers Game
People love lists. It gives them a sense of order and it helps them know what to expect in an article before they even start reading. I cannot count the number of times I have clicked on an article that promises “10 Quick and Easy Family Meals” over one that says “Quick and Easy Family Meals”. It could be the exact same article, but there’s just something about a number that makes one article better than another.
Use that to your advantage. Create a headline that promises a list of answers to a person’s problem. If you’re looking for what number works best, the website The Marketing Profs took things a step further and discovered which numbers attracted people more. (Hint: The number 5 was near the top of the list.)
Headline Type 4: The Keyword Heavy Headline
Google scans headlines and subheadlines to help determine which articles will fit a user’s search needs. You can stack the odds in your favor by using keyword heavy headlines. For example, I can say something like “The Best Small Business Content Marketing Strategy for 2019” and then add a subheadline that includes “How to Get Clicks, Views, and Backlinks to Your Blog Posts”. Most of these are just words that I’m tossing in, but they’re words that people search…a lot.
Headline Type 5: Be Bold
Agree with it or not, The Huffington Post loves a good clickbait headline and it’s darn good at making them too. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been tempted to click on an article even though I know I’ll probably be disappointed. I read it all the way through because I want the answer anyway.
Take this one for instance: The Top 50 Cities to See in Your Lifetime. First off, it’s bold and presumptuous to think this person knows what I should and should not see before I die. Second off, I want to click to see if I agree. I want to find out if he’s right. It’s the same reason I took that silly quiz on Facebook to find out what Disney Princess I am. (I’m Belle, in case you’re wondering.)
The opinion of a person that I have never met and never will meet should not matter…and yet, somehow it does.
The Most Important Tip
All of these are great tips for “clickbait” headlines, but here’s the thing, if you want to have a truly exceptional website then you need to deliver with your content. If your headline promises a cure for cancer, then you better deliver it. Never get more outrageous than you’re willing to deliver on.
Written by Erika Towne