Capturing attention in the digital age is arguably one of the greatest challenges posed to modern-day marketers, brands, and content creators alike. With millions of companies now vying for users’ attention on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and the like, the competition has never been this fierce.
Consider blog posts, for example. Without the ability to pique a user’s interest in under one second via an undeniably compelling headline, you’ve lost the opportunity to introduce a potential customer to your brand. In other words, the 5+ hours of work you put into that blog post could be considered a waste of time.
Oftentimes, it’s not the content that’s the problem—it’s the lack of a compelling headline. As Wired reports and any A/B test will tell you, you can actually increase traffic to your articles by as much as 500% based solely on the headline.
While we’re not defending clickbait or fake news by any means, we would argue that headlines are incredibly important when creating a successful piece of content. After all, wIthout a compelling headline that speaks to your audience and prompts them to click through, your content will not be read. Below, read up on how to write a blog headline in the age of three-second attention spans.
Even if the article is 1,000 words, it’s your job as a content writer to be able to scan the article and extract the single-most intriguing, serviceable piece of information for the reader. That snippet of text should then be distilled down into headline form. This is where knowing your audience comes into play—the more in-tune you are to who your readers are, the better you’ll be able to write headlines specifically for them.
For example, let’s say you’re writing content for a sales company. The readers, most likely sales professionals, are going to care most about increasing their bottom line. Therefore, your headline should speak to how utilizing X software or trying X sales tactic will ultimately make the reader more money in the long run. To that end, your content should always answer the question, “Why does my reader care about this?”
When scrolling through Facebook or Instagram, take note of what you’re compelled to click on as a user. Are you attracted to listicle-style articles? Or, maybe you always click on headlines that tease something, but don’t completely give the answer away. Taking note of common headline structures and formulas from a user perspective can help you craft compelling content and headlines for your own brand, publication, or company. The same sentiment can be applied to topic generation. If you’re the same age as your target demographic—which is true in a lot of cases—pay attention to what piques your interest as a reader. Chances are your audience is intrigued by similar topics.
While using your own interests and online behaviors as a guide can be helpful, looking at your blog data can affirm, inform, or refute your insights. Whether you use Google Analytics or a real-time traffic software like Parse.ly or Chartbeat, it’s important that you’re looking at your blog data weekly or even daily, depending on how much content you’re producing. Look at the top three articles for the week and try to figure out why it did well. Was the number-one article written around a topic that your audience has shown consistent interest in? Or, does it utilize a new headline structure that you and your team find especially compelling? After a few months of looking at your blog data, you’ll be able to extract headline formulas and topics that appeal to your audience. You can then use those headline structures and article topics to inform next month’s content calendar to bring in more traffic.
By following the above three steps when creating content over the course of my career, I’ve been able to identify some compelling headline structures and formatting tips that consistently pique readers’ interest. Consider the below tricks when crafting your next blog headline:
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