Did you know that 91% of content on the internet gets zero traffic from Google? That is such a sobering thought! You may have spent hours, days, weeks, even years writing content that no one will read.
It doesn’t matter if your post is the best ever – if no one clicks on it, you may as well not have bothered. In 9 Tips For Writing Headlines For Your Blog, you will learn how to give your post a fighting chance of being read!
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Why do you need a winning headline?
Imagine for a moment that you have worked diligently on your keyword research. You have built up authority on your blog and finally, you are super-excited to find that you have made it to the holy grail, page one of Google!
You are ready for popping open the champagne but wait just one minute. You still aren’t seeing much increase in traffic. If your headline isn’t making people want to read your post, your efforts are going to waste.
Furthermore, some people will share a post, just because it has an amazing headline! Fortunately, Google search isn’t the only game in town. Social media can seriously increase your traffic too. But only if your headline makes people want to read and/or share it.
What is the purpose of a headline?
The purpose of a headline, and indeed each line of content your write, is to get people to keep reading. If they don’t keep reading, you don’t get the chance to educate, build trust, expand your email list, or win fans and customers.
This puts you in the ‘hobby blogger’ category, but that’s not why you are here.
What makes people keep reading?
Did you know that 80% of your audience will read your headline, but only 20% will go on to read your post?
Your headline has to catch the reader’s attention. People are bombarded with messages nowadays – but if your headline speaks to a problem they have, you are halfway there.
How long should your headline be?
Google only displays up to 60 characters of your headline so there’s not much point in making it longer. In any case, make sure that it includes your keyword, and that the main gist of your post is easily understood in those first characters.
Use a number in the headline
I confess I don’t always do this but it has been proven that using a number (especially an odd number) increases clicks! Apparently, it’s something to do with the way our brain processes information.
List posts are really popular, for example, 7 Keyword Research Tips No One Tells You About. (This includes another tip – offer something that is known to only a few!)
A general rule of thumb is that the more tips there are, the shorter the section should be.
I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t be wanting to read 99 ways to get more clicks if each was an in-depth piece!
Furthermore, if there is no number, people assume you are only offering one way to resolve a particular problem.
Use ‘How to ‘ or ‘How I’ in the headline
Don’t feel that you always have to use numbers in your posts.
‘How to’ is very popular, and the main reason people are searching for something is to learn how to do something.
‘How I’ can be even more powerful. For example, I have seen posts like ‘How I quit my day job in 12 months by starting a blog’. If you have already succeeded in achieving what other people want to learn, this absolutely works too.
(Although you could potentially double up with ‘7 Ways How To Improve Your Lawn. Or 5 Reasons I Gave Up My Job And Traveled The World’.)
Use what is, where, why
These are also hugely popular search terms. If you are getting started blogging, you will probably search for things like ‘what is the best hosting for a small website’.
I have recently searched for ‘where can Brits live abroad after Brexit!’- my Lanzarote dream is over (for now anyway).
‘Why are headlines important’ would be another typical example.
Just think about the questions that people are asking in your niche and you won’t go wrong. If you run out of inspiration, Answer The Public is a great source of actual searches that people are doing now.
State the topic of your post in your headline.
This sounds obvious, but you would be amazed at the number of headlines out there that do not deliver on the promise made in the headlines!
I’m not just talking about clickbait (which has to be the worst form of ‘marketing’) but make sure that your post is relevant to the headline and that it stays relevant throughout.
Don’t add more words just because Google likes you to have upwards of 1,500-word posts these days. It’s easy to go off on a tangent but stay relevant and never be tempted to write anything just for the sake of it.
Call out your target audience
It’s a good idea to call out your audience in your headline unless it’s absolutely clear. For example, I added ‘for bloggers’ to my headline as there are all different types of headlines out there. (E.g. News, social media etc.)
I wanted to make sure there was no doubt that I was aiming at bloggers. Also, it will be a slightly less competitive term than if I hadn’t added ‘for bloggers’.
Share how to avoid mistakes
Anyone learning something new will welcome the chance to avoid making mistakes – especially if they are costly. Here is a post I made sharing what not to do, including some of my very own mistakes.
For example, ’11 things I wish I knew before I built my first website’. If I was just starting to build a website, I can guarantee I would click on that post.
Showing your human side is always a good idea. People will warm to you for being honest and for genuinely helping them to get it right from the start.
Use a broad topic, but for a niche audience
Broad topics are generally a big no-no when it comes to keyword selection and carefully targeting your audience. However, a clever way to get around this is to use a broad topic at the same time as calling out your audience.
For example, ‘Improve Your Golf Swing’ is very broad, but ‘Improve Your Golf Swing – Beginners tips’ will not be anything like as competitive.
Use the word ‘guide’ in your headline
When creating your content strategy you will include content for people at every stage in their customer journey. Guides are typically popular with people at the start of their journey.
The word ‘guide’ suggests that there will be lots of information to help them on their way.
If you do use the word guide, be sure to follow through with some really valuable, actionable content. You may even decide to use this to create a lead magnet instead of a blog post if it is seriously good.
Putting it all together
Now, I’m not suggesting that you use all of the above in every headline!
A really interesting recommendation I heard from Sean Ogle of Location Rebel is that you do the following:
- State something your audience wants
- Give a timeframe
- Handle an objection
He reckons if you can do all 3 you are onto an absolute winner (but one or two would still put you on the right track).
One of his best-performing headlines goes something like this ‘Earn $1,000 in 3 months, even if you have a full-time job’. You get the idea.
If you’re feeling creative, have a play around with some of the suggestions here and put your headlines in the comments below.