We have all been there. After hours of writing and editing, adding accompanying links and images and optimizing for search engines, our posts simply aren’t viewed or shared nearly as much as we imagined. Confident that we created a great piece of content, we are left scratching our head trying to figure out what went wrong.
Sound familiar? If so, you aren’t alone.
Writers tend to think that people read and share things based on quality, so they focus solely on creating high quality content. We encourage you to continue to do this, but make sure your hard work doesn’t go to waste due to a bad headline. That is right, the headline is the difference between content that goes viral and content that leaves you scratching your head wondering what happened. Why are these few words more important than the hundreds or thousands of other words in your posts? Let’s get to the bottom of it.
Why Are Headlines So Important?
Think for a second about how you found this article. Chances are you saw it on social media, found it by searching on a search engine or received it via email. All three of the scenarios have one thing in common, the headline. When someone share this post on social media, they will share the headline and a link to it, not the entire post. If they find it in Google’s search results, they will see the headline, not the entire post.
People share headlines, not the entire post. With this mindset it is clear to see why headlines are so important. The scary thing? Many writers are spending little to no time on their headlines. If you fall into this category, using the first headlines that comes to mind, you are hurting your chances of getting the shares your content deserves. Before we discuss tools and tricks to make writing share worthy headlines easier, let’s take a look at what makes a great headline.
What Makes A Great Headline?
1. Short and Sweet: Try to keep your headlines less than 70 characters. There are two benefits to doing so:
- Headlines over 70 characters will be cut off in search results
- The average attention span of humans is only 8 seconds
2. Tells Readers What To Expect: A great title should make it clear exactly what the reader should expect. Avoid using misleading titles for the sake of attracting clicks. Though brands like Buzzfeed have made a killing off these types of headlines, we do not recommend it for your business. Instead, make it clear what to expect and watch as people begin to trust your content and your business, leading to more shares.
3. Unique: If your headline looks like or is exactly the same as other headlines, what will make it stand out? We will discuss later in this post tools to help you research headlines to ensure yours is unique.
4. Demonstrates Value: Not only should your headline tell readers what your post is about, but it should also make it clear the value that is in it for the reader. Clear value increases click-through rates and social shares.
Tricks To Write Better Headlines
1. Use Interesting Adjectives: One strong adjective could be the difference between a post going viral and barely being seen.
2. Include Numbers: People love lists posts like “15 Books That Every Social Media Marketer Should Read.” Interestingly enough, posts that include odd numbers are clicked, read and shared more often than posts including even numbers.Final Title Generator Video
3. Take An Extreme Stance: A great way to draw attention and increase shares is by taking an extreme stance on a subject.
- Why Social Media Marketing Is Pointless
- Social Media Is The Only Place To Market Your Business
As you can see, both of these titles take an extreme stance on the same subject, social media marketing. When these titles are read by potential readers it will trigger some sort of emotional response. The first title for example will grab the attention of social media marketers immediately. They will be extremely interested to see why you think their profession is pointless and will be more likely to share it with others to see what they think.
Be bold. It will help your headlines stand out and get shared more.
4. Ask Questions: Headlines that ask a question are extremely popular for a few reasons. The first reason is that by asking a question, potential readers assume you will then answer it. If the question interests them, chances are so will the answer. This types of headlines garners a lot of shares because questions also encourage comments and engagement their audience when shared.
Tools To Help You Improve Your Headlines
1. Buzzsumo: This tool is not specifically used for headlines, but is a great place to start when trying to decide on the right one. Simply search the topic of your content and Buzzsumo will find and display all of the top posts related to that topic. The best part is they show how often these posts were shared on each social network. What we like to do is compare the top 10 headlines and try to extract bits a pieces from each one. Consider this tool as a great place to get inspiration for headlines by seeing what has worked for others.
2. Inbound Now Blog Title Generator: We recently found this tool and are now using it nearly every time we write a headlines. This simple generator gives you headlines ideas by generating templates. This is a must try tool if you are struggling to come up with great headlines.
3. Optimizely: A/B testing headlines is a great way to decide which one works best. Unfortunately, this type of testing is not the easiest thing to do for most businesses. Luckily, Optimizely has made it much easier to do, especially if you have a WordPress blog.
4. Advanced Marketing Institute Headline Tool: This simple tool analyzes your headlines and gives it a grade. What we like to do is use one or more of the tools mentioned above to come up with several headlines and then we use this analyzer to see which gets the best grade. Which headlines you use is ultimately up to you, but this analyzer can help you make a decision.
With marketers expecting to produce more content than ever in 2016, it is important to focus on strong, eye-catching headlines. These headlines will ultimately grab interest from readers and encourage them to read and share your content. As you have seen, there are several tricks and tools to help you to write killer headlines, so it is now up to you to make headlines a priority. Consider them your curb appeal. It is hard to entice potential buyers to see the inside of a home if they hate the look of it when they drive by. Headlines are no different. Without a good headlines, even the best content can go unnoticed.
It is your turn! What tips, tricks or tools would you recommend for writing shareworthy headlines? Let us know in the comment section.
Want more content like this delivered directly to your inbox? Subscribe to our blog below!