In the newspaper business, the above-the-fold headline is a crucial aspect of grabbing a potential reader’s attention and enticing them to pick up the paper and read on. The same is true of online headlines – the hyperlinks that come up in a list when you search for something in a search engine. In addition to page ranking, an enticing headline is an important way to drive traffic to your site. With that in mind, here are some tips for generating great headlines.
Balance Between Searchable and Enticing
There’s a big difference between writing headlines in the digital realm and writing them for traditional print media, like brochures. When writing copy for brochures searchability isn’t an issue (unless that copy will also be used online). When searchability isn’t such an issue, writers can be more creative and clever in coming up with their copy. That’s something that can be difficult to “give up” when in the digital world. We know.
In the digital work, though, you need to create headlines that aren’t just catchy or clever, but that also include a keyword or two that you want to rank for. Your headline needs to be both compelling and also clickable! A bit more challenging than just being creative. Writing for online consumption is an entirely different process than writing for traditional print media. In traditional print outlets, it’s okay, sometimes even advisable, to be clever or to use compelling, creative language. In the online world, though, copywriters need to use the language that their audience is likely to use when searching for the information they have to offer.
Make the Benefit Obvious
Think about what you would click on if you were searching for something. The benefit in the headline should be obvious to those searching. This means you first need to identify the problem you are hoping to solve: provide general information? A how-to? First-hand reviews? Lists of data? Your audience is always thinking about WIIFM (“What’s in it for me?”); the answer to that question should be front and center in your headlines!
Numbers in headlines can be a great way to drive traffic to your site. Whenever possible, try to quantify your headlines. Instead of telling searchers that employee turnover is expensive, for example, include data and numbers on how much it costs the average U.S. company to replace the average employee.
Use Multiple Headlines
Using multiple headlines, or subheads, can help to break up your copy and lead readers through the content. This form of scannable copy makes your content easier to read than long chunks of heavy gray copy blocks.
Make it Meaningful
And speaking of leading readers through the copy, think carefully about the content you’re presenting and the best order to present it in. Get inside the heads of your readers and think about what it is that they’re likely to be interested in and how you can best organize that content to catch and keep their interest.
For all the technological differences, there are many similarities between online content and print media. The importance of a headline is a great example. A compelling headline is far more likely to drive traffic to your site; the big difference between print and online headlines is that online headlines also need to be searchable. Striking the right balance can do wonders for your traffic and for your business objectives. Building audience is all about first, being found and, second, delivering content that connects and compels your audience to some desired action. (P.S. We can help you with that.)
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