Writing SEO headlines that not only get you to the first page of Google, but also get clicked is a fine art.
There is no denying the fact that digital technology has completely changed the business world. From consumer behavior to marketing channels and strategies, everything has been transformed after the digital revolution.
While it has created a host of new opportunities for business owners and marketers, it has also significantly increased the competition by leveling the playing field. Now businesses don’t need to have huge marketing budgets to reach out to their target audiences and create brand awareness. However, they need to stand out to get recognized.
Although companies are always on the lookout for newer and creative ways to attract their target audience, there are a few online marketing techniques that are essential for survival. These include search engine optimization (SEO) and content marketing. But, you should know that you are not the only one using these techniques – most of the businesses with an online presence are using these tactics to some extent. As a result, the internet is cluttered with content.
The content overload has made it extremely hard for businesses to cut through the noise and grab the attention of their target audiences. While there is no secret formula to creating a piece of content that is read and shared by your audience, there are certain tips that can increase the chances of success – writing a great headline is one of them.
Why Headlines Are Important
Headlines are vital for the success of a content marketing strategy. Here’s why:
· They Are Critical For Attracting Audience
We all know the headline is the first thing that anyone reads. But, with content overload and the shrinking attention spans of readers, it often becomes the only thing that people read. According to research, 8 out of 10 people who click on a content piece do not read past headlines.
While most of the content marketers have recently realized the importance of headlines, David Ogilvy, the father of modern advertising, had realized it a long time back. In one of his books, he wrote:
“On the average, five times as many people read the headlines as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar”.
Despite the fact that we all had been told to not judge a book by its cover while we were growing up, that’s what most of us do in today’s digital age.
Do you know what this means?
The headline of your content pieces will decide if the people are going to read your content or not. No matter how wonderful your content is, no one is going to read it if it does not have an attention-grabbing headline.
Fortunate or unfortunate, this is the reality of content marketing.
According to Jay Baer, one of the most renowned marketing and customer services experts and a best-selling author:
· Headlines Are Also Important for SEO
In the digital world, businesses largely depend on search engines for driving traffic to their websites. And research has shown that 95% of the search traffic doesn’t go beyond the first result page.
Even on the first page, most of the people only view the top few results.
This means the higher a website ranks on search engine, the more organic traffic it is likely to receive. However, achieving and maintaining a higher search engine ranking is no easy task.
Google, the most widely used search engine, ranks web pages on the basis of their relevance and authority.
When it comes to determining the relevance and authority of a page, there are different factors that play a role. Headlines is one of them. Optimizing your headlines for SEO is as important as it is to optimize your content.
How to Craft SEO Headlines That are Appealing to Your Target Audience As well As Search Engines
Crafting headlines that attract both your audience and search engine is a little tricky. This is because:
“Search engine bots are not your ordinary readers: they are blazingly fast yet numbingly literal-minded. There are no algorithms for wit, irony, humor, or stylish writing. The software is a logical, sequential, left-brain reader, while humans are often right brain.”
Writing headlines that attract both humans and search engines is both art and science and it often takes a long time to master. To help you improve the impact of your content and your traffic, here I am highlighting some simple, but highly useful, headline writing tips:
1. Find Strong Keywords and Use Them In Your Headline
Wondering why you need to use keywords in headline?
This is because:
When your headlines have the same keywords that people use to search online, they are more likely to be picked up by the search engine as well as get clicked by the users.
2. Make Them Simple, Clear, And Short
Long, complicated, and vague headlines should always be avoided when writing for the digital world. As mentioned earlier, most of the people only read headlines to decide if an article or a blog post is worth reading. Headlines that clearly tell what the readers are going to get from the post are more likely to be clicked.
Keeping the headlines shorter also ensure that they will be displayed properly on the search engine.
Here’s how long headlines are displayed on Google:
Incomplete headlines lose their appeal (and clicks).
A simple way to create an effective headline is to think of the problem(s) your content is resolving, the questions it is answering, or the words that people generally use to search online. This is what even the most expert content marketers do. Take a look at the following examples:
These are the headlines of Jay Baer and Jeff Bullas’ blog posts. Being content marketing experts, they could have come up with the most creative headlines, but they opted for simpler ones.
Why? Because they know these are going to bring them more visitors as both Google and people like simple headlines.
3. Use Proven Headline Writing Formulas
Just by running a simple search on Google, you will know that most of the headlines are:
While they have been around for a long time, Google still seems to like them. Run a simple search on the search engine and most of the results you will get on the first page will be of these types. So, when you are in a rush or doubt, use these proven formulas to stay in the safe zone.
4. Use the 4U Formula
Given by Melanie Duncan, the simple 4U formula is a foolproof way to create headlines that get clicked. Here’s what according to Duncan your headlines should be:
Tools That Can Help You Create Strong Headlines
Many tools can help you with this, I recommend SEMrush for SEO keyword research and tracking to my clients, but here are more tools that I have found to be really helpful in crafting strong headlines:
1. Soovle – Keyword Finder
For many new content writers and marketers, keyword research is one of the most difficult and time consuming tasks. While it may take a little time to find the most relevant keywords, it is not as difficult as many people think.
There are many online tools that you can use to find keywords – Soovle is one of them.
Soovle functions just like Google’s auto-complete feature. But, what makes it more effective is that it provides keyword suggestions from different sources, like Yahoo, YouTube, and Bing.
All you have to do is to type in a basic term and it will give you suggestions
2. Title Generator – SEO Headline Generator
Struggling to come up with an idea for your new blog post?
Insert your keywords in the Title Generator to get hundreds of ideas. While some of the headlines that it provides may not make sense, it will at least help you get started.
Here are the title suggestions it gives for the keyword ‘blog writing’:
3. ShareThrough – Headline Analyzer
So, you finally have a headline, but how do you check if it is strong enough to cut through the noise in today’s over-crowded digital space?
Use a headline analyzer to find out how strong and engaging your headline is. While there are many headline analyzers available online, ShareThrough is one of the best. It not only gives you an overall score regarding the quality of headline, but also tells you about its strengths as well as gives suggestions to make your headline more effective.
What makes it even more amazing is that it also gives you the engagement and impression score, so you know how likely your headline is going to perform.
To give you an idea of how ShareThrough works, here is an example:
The Headline Has To Be a Complete Thought
Do not leave your audience guessing what your headline is trying to say. It should be a complete thought or it won’t get clicked; it’s as simple as that.
As Jakob Neilson, the renowned web usability consultant said:
“Headline text has to stand on its own and make sense when the rest of the content is not available.”
SEO headlines are one of the most important parts of your content – it wouldn’t be wrong to say that they determine the performance of your content and can have a significant impact on your content marketing strategy.
As discussed earlier, most of the people judge your content from its headline. This means, no matter how high-quality your content is, it will fail to attract your audience and get clicks if it does not have an appealing and engaging headline. Sometimes, a good headline is the only difference between a well-performing content piece and the one that failed to get any attention.
In short, remember that in the world of content marketing and SEO, headlines do the heavy lifting. So, it is worth spending time on crafting and testing different types of headlines to find the one that works best for you.