Here’s something worth knowing: on average, only 20% of the people who read your headline will read the blog post itself – the remaining 80% will click away elsewhere. Your content might sparkle, but only 20 out of every 100 people will ever get to it. Fortunately, you can use these handy hacks to effortlessly turn your headlines around in seconds flat.
1. Reveal the ‘What’ but not the ‘How’
‘Numbered Lists Will Make Your Headline More Clickable’. Okay, fantastic, now why should anyone take the time to read the blog itself? All the information is provided right in the headline. Perhaps the body of the blog would offer additional facts and information, but there’s simply no temptation to find out.
Instead, use your headline to promise readers a compelling benefit without giving away the nitty-gritty. For example, ‘The One Simple Way to Make Your Headline More Clickable’. Foster curiosity, don’t give away the game.
2. List it Right
Anyone with even a passing interest in digital content marketing should understand that people prefer reading well-structured lists. Scannable, enticing, and less intimidating than a full page of text, lists are becoming the gold standard of blogging structure.
Still, there’s always room to improve upon what’s already working. Firstly, using digits instead of written numbers is the way to go; it simply makes the article more enticing. Secondly, lists of nine should be the limit; anything else looks like too much work. Finally, odd numbered lists have been proven to garner more clicks; even numbers apparently suggest that an item has been added to round things out.
3. Maintain a 70 Character Maximum
70 characters should be more than enough to play with. Headlines exceeding that length become a little too clunky. Readability is far from the only issue though, and not just because Google will certainly cut down longer headlines to display on its results pages.
Even more important is the influence of social media. Social means sharing, and sharing means Twitter; other social media sites might have incorporated sharing, but the practice is Twitter’s bread and butter. You need to make your article easy to tweet and retweet, and that means leaving enough space for the title, a shortlink, an author or company attribution, and possibly a short comment, so it’s smart to leave at least 70 characters on the table.
4. Keywords Should Come First
Placing your keywords at the start of your headline optimises it for search engines and allows potential readers to quickly discern the purpose of your blog. Print journalists have understood this trick for years. It’s why you’re more likely to read ‘Aliens Invaded London on Monday Afternoon’ instead of ‘On Monday Afternoon, London was Attacked by Aliens’.
Your keywords should signify the blog’s intended audience and subject matter, and that kind of attention-grabbing info belongs up front.
5. Add a Colon or Hyphen
Outbrain, a content discovery platform, analysed 150,000 article headlines or titles the to root out the fundamentals of popular headlines. They found that adding a hyphen or colon to a title increased click-through rates by 9% – pretty powerful for a simple piece of punctuation.
A colon or hyphen creates a subtitle. Readers associate a subtitle with in-depth research or discussion, so it’s no surprise that adding one tends to engage them. Not a hack to use with every single post, but one well worth keeping in your arsenal.
A headline is much more than the cherry on top of a well-written blog post – it’s the key to attracting potential readers. Take action by using these simple headline hacks.