Once more I sit down to my desk to write about the craft of one of the most important often overlooked pieces of blogging puzzle – writing headlines. It’s certainly a hot topic at the moment, and so I’m fully charged with the latest tips tricks and tools for you. Once you’ve built up a solid online reputation for your blog and established yourself as somewhat of a thought leader and quote-worthy industry figure, then you will be getting users flocking to any blog with your name attached to it in their thousands.
However, until that moment gloriously arrives for you, then you are going to have to rely on a few more tricks of the trade.
Let’s get matters straight here before we go on. Some bloggers have social media followers in the hundreds of thousands. Some have millions. One of my biggest heroes – who, as it happens, is now turning into one of my biggest rivals – is Jeff Bullas. This man is a prolific blogger, a real celebrity in the content creation world, and what he doesn’t know about Facebook, Twitter, blogging, microblogging and a whole lot more besides, frankly, ain’t worth knowing.
On Twitter alone, he has, at time of writing, a whopping 357,000 followers. And what does he mainly post on his Twitter feed? Well, links to his blogs, of course.
After all, Bullas is a blogger, and therefore a writer, first and foremost. And he’s darn good at it. But, one of his greatest strengths, I have to say, is in his ability to create short, sweet and succinct headlines for his posts that manage to instantaneously convey the value of the content to the reader, as well as excite them at a glance.
This is important, of course, for adding value is precisely what your blog is all about – and imparting your message quickly and clearly is what writing great headlines is all about.
The fact of the matter is that the majority of your followers across social media won’t actually be reading your blogs. Some will, of course, but the greater part of them won’t be.
However, nearly all of them will be reading your headlines – if only briefly as they scan through their news feeds. This means that your headlines are extremely important – not just for generating clicks, but for slowly implanting greater brand awareness into the collective subconscious of your following. People will be constantly seeing your logo attached to an image and a headline – so it’s important that you’re getting your message nicely across.
5 Tools And Tips For Creating The Perfect Headline
1. Write More List Posts
“One of the first things that I saw was that lists posts are huge and were the most likely type of post to be shared more than 1,000 or even 100 times. More interestingly, list posts only made up 5% of the total posts actually written, which means that we don’t create enough of these posts to begin with. An immediate takeaway here is to start creating more list posts.”
List posts are great because the headline will immediately communicate to the reader that there is something of great value here to be read. ‘5 Tools For…’, ’10 Super Tips For…’, etc.
Whilst it’s generally advised not to offer an off-putting amount of information in your headline, sometimes it’s certainly true that an ‘unusual’ number will grab attention: ‘36 Ways To Skin A Cat’, ‘17 Hairstyles To Try Before You Die’.
2. Keep It Short And Sweet
The reasoning is that apparently people tend to read the first 3 and the last 3 lines of a headline when scanning – so with 6 they presumably read them all!!. However, the number 6 is approximate, and 8 or 9 words is perfectly fine – as is 4 or 5 if you can cut it down that much without losing meaning.
Here’s another Quicksprout screenshot:
3. CoSchedule Headline Analyser
Every time I write about headlines, I have to mention the amazing headline analyser from CoSchedule. Simply copy and paste you headline into the field provided, hit enter, and you’re produced with a breakdown of what’s working and what’s not with your headline, and given a score out of 100.
As a rule, I like to see a score of at least 65 before I settle on a headline for a piece – which I achieved here on the first go.
4. Emotional Headline Analyser
Where possible, it’s always recommended that you use emotional words in your headlines. These, of course, are great for attracting users to click on a headline, as they generate very human and sentimental responses in the audience.
The tool to use for analysing the so-called Emotional Marketing Value (EMV) of your headline is the one available from the Advanced Marketing Institute.
CoSchedule, once again, prove to be invaluable when it comes to writing headlines, as they very kindly produce the below list of more that 180 power words for producing emotional headlines.
Of course, the tips and tools that I have outlined above are relatively general. That is to say that although I firmly stand by everything I’ve written and recommended so far, when it comes to your very own personal campaigns, there are obviously going to be factors that I haven’t taken into account.
So what to do? Well, in order to make sure that you’re doing everything you possibly can to ensure that your headlines are creating the highest amount of clicks possible, then really you’re going to need to run some tests – and Optimizely is the tool that will enable you to do this.
Running A/B or split tests with your audience on Optimizely will generate much more tailored results than the likes of the CoSchedule or the Advanced Marketing Institute’s tools. My final recommendation, however, would be to use all of these things in combination with one another so that you may get the best results in the quickest possible time. It won’t take long before you’ll know exactly how to score at least 65 on your first go with CoSchedule, get above 40% on EMV, and know exactly what sort of headlines best suit your campaigns – you won’t even need these tools at all (but don’t stop using them!!).
What tools do you use for writing headlines? Got any more tips for our readers? Let us know in the comments below.