On average, 8 out of 10 people read headlines and only 2 out of 10 people will read a full article. In fact, many readers will share content without reading the full article, based on the headline and first few lines of copy. That means your headline is just as important—if not more important—than your blog content in drawing readers and promoting content shares.
Still reading? Good.
Many media companies have invested in research that follows what headlines people click on, gauging the general preference of readers. Based on that information, here are three simple, proven ways to write blog titles that are more attractive to readers:
1. Write to grab attention, but be clear
Consider these two headlines: “16 Simple Studying Hacks to Help You Ace Your Next Exam” versus “16 Studying Tips for College Students.” Both are good, clear titles, but which would you click on? Readers are more likely to click on creative, unique titles with qualifying adverbs or adjectives.
Even so, you should still be extremely clear about what your article will be about. If you were to introduce that same article with an attention-grabbing headline like “Exam Hacks that Will Blow Your Mind!” you may get more initial clicks, but readers will lose trust and avoid sharing after your headline directs them to an article with general studying tips.
2. Include a value proposition
Are you exposing a secret? Sharing new information? Teaching something through a how-to? Include your article’s “value proposition” or benefit in your title. For example, if your article teaches beginners how to antique furniture, you could title your post “How to Distress Furniture in 3 Easy Steps.” If you are sharing new information on painting methods you could title your post “4 Little-Known DIY Alternatives to Furniture Glaze.”
The five most common headlines address readers directly, include how-to’s, pose a question or use a numeric figure. Research shows more people will click on post titles that include numbers (i.e. “10 Reasons to Tag Key Words”), but articles that are addressed directly to the reader are also popular (i.e. “Reasons You Should Tag Key Words”).
3. Optimize for SEO
Now you’ll need to optimize your headline for long-term value. A killer headline itself is great, but your post is stronger and has a greater ability to reach more people through organic search results.
A good rule of thumb is to keep your post title to 65 characters or less (the title of this article is 49 characters with spaces, for example) so that you don’t get cut off in email and search engine results. Technically, there’s no solid “best practice” for post length, because Google is constantly changing search algorithms. Google used to use 70 characters as the tipping point, but 65 is a safer bet today.
You also should consider what “long tail” key words you want to rank for, and try to incorporate those key words into your post title. A helpful tool is Google AdWords Keyword Planner to discover what key words would work the best.
Word of warning: Don’t keyword stuff. It actually works against your SEO and often makes the subject matter less clear to readers.
If in doubt, don’t hesitate to contact the friendly folks at SKYFALLBLUE for help with content management. What are some recent blog post headlines that have captured your attention?