If you spend time writing about a topic, you want people to read your thoughts. You also want them to engage with the content and share what they think.
Well the really simple answer to getting your blog read is all in the headline. It has to be. And you don’t have to take my word for it. A guru when it comes to advertising, David Ogilvy, had this to say about headlines:
Admittedly blogs weren’t such a big part of the marketing landscape back in his day. But the principles remain as true today as they were then. If you can’t generate interest past the headline, then your blog will be dismissed straightaway.
Five elements to think about when you write a headline
To get you started, here are the areas you should think about when drafting a headline. Your target audience are clearly important. Which means relevant topics will get you off to a good start. The next step is all about the packaging.
Length of headline
According to Hubspot the ideal length of a blog post title is 60 characters. This is based on click-through rates, so will vary by type of social media. As you might expect Twitter has fewer characters than Facebook.
Beginning and end
We’re very good at skim reading. Which means the first and last words on any piece of copy need to count. Apply this to a headline and you should grab their attention with the first couple of words. Then back them up with the last few.
These are an important element when your audience are searching for information. But the words need to have context. These days, search is conducted using a phrase or question which makes keywords only one of the elements. There’s lots more to say on this so check out our blog on writing copy for SEO.
Generate headlines which resonate with your audience. If they aren’t interested, then who will be? Empathy and emotion will make your headline appealing and bring you closer to their world.
Ultimately when you have read a headline you want the reader to find out more. You will want to generate the desire to engage further with your post. A need to answer that question, learn some new information or discover another perspective on a topic.
As ever, there are free tools out there to help you produce great headlines. Headline Analyzer will do exactly what it says. It is a simple tool which you can use to improve engagement with your blogs.
The sort of headlines you can generate
Once you have identified your blog topic, the next challenge is getting your audience to engage. There are a number of approaches you can take to help you do this.
Put yourself in the reader’s shoes. If they are spending time reading this blog, then what’s in it for them? How would their life be made better by reading this blog?
Maybe think slightly differently. Present a headline that your audience hadn’t really thought about. Take an everyday topic and put a different spin on it – or present an unknown fact and then back it up.
Another useful tip is to use uneven or unusual numbers. In these two examples that is exactly what they’ve done. It adds intrigue and reflects a more thought-provoking approach to the whole piece.
Make a connection with well-known people. Someone who your audience would recognise but maybe not associate with your business.
Appeal to the inner-self. Create a headline that your audience will aspire towards. Make it realistic and attainable but empower them to believe it is possible.
Talk more to the rationale side. Provide information that is useful to your audience. It could be an update on your products or services, maybe news in the public domain that will affect your customers.
Any headline for a blog has to be the little nugget that grabs your audience’s attention and holds their interest. There is so much to read in the digital space, which is why you must amplify your message. And you have to do it with just 60 characters.
Never mislead your audience
Creating a blog headline that bears little resemblance to the content is a definite negative. Remember the sequence of a story. The beginning, middle and end. A blog is no different. You have made your pitch in the headline and you now need to deliver what you promised.
A phrase often referred to in this context is clickbait. The definition of this is – ‘something (such as a headline) designed to make readers want to click on a hyperlink especially when the link leads to content of dubious value or interest’.
In this scenario, you can quickly lose trust and never regain your audience. So, definitely be creative with your headlines to generate that traffic. But always remain true to your topic – or interest will spike and then fade away forever.
What’s your best blog headline, and why?