Blogging is now considered essential for businesses of virtually all types. SEMRush estimates that approximately 84% of companies have a content marketing strategy.
That’s because content marketing can be a highly effective and affordable way to drive traffic to your website. But in order to encourage visitors to read (or even click) what you’ve written, you’ll need to know how to craft a killer headline.
Most web visitors will read your headline, but only a scant few will actually finish reading the post. If your headlines don’t capture a reader’s attention from the very start, your content will go overlooked.
Of course, you can use a headline generator for valuable inspiration. But in order to create headlines that make an impact, you need to learn the factors that will give your writing more punch. Using the three steps below, you can confidently craft blog post titles that are more likely to convert first-time readers into long-time customers.
Write Your Headline Last
When you write a blog post for your business, you’ll first want to come up with a great topic. You can then create an outline and start writing. But that doesn’t mean you should necessarily begin with your title.
To put it another way, you shouldn’t feel married to the first draft of your headline. Having a working title can point you in the right direction. But by the time you’ve finished writing the piece, you might end up somewhere completely different than you anticipated.
As such, your original title might not be the best option. It might not totally capture the intended audience, the tone, or what the piece actually provides to the reader. Ultimately, that means your headline won’t be as effective as it could be.
Don’t be afraid to go back and adjust your title to align with what you’ve written. You can even leave it blank to start and craft the entire thing once you’ve finished writing the post itself. Either way, it’s unlikely that the first version of the headline should be the one you end up publishing.
When you write your headlines last, you’ll have the ability to perfectly sum up the feel of the piece and set the right expectations for your readers. In other words, you’ll be able to provide more value upfront – and that’s what web visitors like to see.
Keep it Brief and Specific
Although longer blog posts usually get more traffic and engagement, the same cannot be said for longer headlines.
There are no strict rules here, but it’s best to keep things relatively brief. Headlines that have anywhere between eight and 12 words get shared more readily on social media, so most experts suggest that you aim to keep your headlines between seven and 11 words long.
This isn’t merely because shorter headlines are easier for visitors to skim and understand whether the piece will be of value to them. Google will usually display the first 50 to 60 characters of a title tag in search results, so you’ll want to keep your titles at or under this length. Title tags won’t always be the same as your blog’s headline, of course, but this is still a good rule of thumb to keep in mind.
Keeping your titles brief can be hard, especially because you’ll want to avoid being overly vague. Titles that contain specificity are much more clickable because they provide some sort of promise to the reader.
The more intentional you can be with your headline (while still keeping it succinct), the better. After all, you’d probably rather read a piece entitled, “7 Social Media Strategies to Create Buzz For a New Restaurant” than “Marketing Tips For Restaurants,” right? Both are relatively short, but the first option is a lot more specific in terms of both audience and expectation.
Create Intrigue or Urgency
Getting specific is a good start. But in addition to capturing the reader’s attention, you’ll need to motivate them to take the next step and actually click on your article.
To do that, you’ll need to create a sense of urgency or intrigue with your headlines.
This can be accomplished in a number of ways. Some common tricks of the trade include the use of numbers (especially odd numbers, as our brains view them as being more believable), headlines in a question format, or words with a negative connotation (like “never,” “mistakes,” and “worst”). Headlines that utilize these elements tend to have higher click-through and engagement rates.
Another option is to offer an actionable solution in a short amount of time. “DIY Home Makeovers You Can Complete in 1 Weekend” or “Simple Ways to Brighten Your Smile in 30 Minutes” contain both numbers and the fast delivery of a promise.
You need to convey that your post will provide a quick and easy answer that will really pay off – but you don’t want to give it all away before they even click. A title like, “This Mistake Will Send Your Email Blasts Straight to the Spam Folder” or “Don’t Ignore These Signs of Dangerous Mold in Your Home” can create both intrigue and urgency for the reader.
It’s important to note that you shouldn’t mislead your readers or become a fear-monger. Clickbait titles can get you into trouble and can end up hurting your traffic once visitors catch on. Your headlines should be captivating without being dishonest or overly dramatic. It can be a tough balance to strike, but if you always remember to come back to the piece itself before publishing, you’ll have a headline that sums up the content and aligns with your values.
It’s true that crafting the perfect headline can take years of practice. But with these three tips in mind, you can feel more confident when publishing blog posts for your business – and you’ll likely be rewarded with more traffic and conversions.