Writing a headline for an article is a very important factor in determining the conversion rate of the article. The headline of an article is the only means that the content writer has to get the reader to read the article. It is the one and perhaps the only chance you get to convert a surfer into a reader and perhaps a follower. If you do not convert the headline into clicks, your headline and the article will just remain just that, a headline.
Surfers just scan through headlines on a page that has resulted from their search. Your job is to stop the surfers in their tracks when they scan the headline of your article. The headline has to be that impressive. It should make the readers feel that they have reached the end of their search for the relevant information or solution.
Copy blogger has it that eight out of ten surfers read the headlines. Out of that, only two will go on to read the article or the copy. Does that mean that you will get 20% of the share of the surfers that are searching for your keyword or keyphrase? Don’t bank on it because there will be nine to twelve articles on the page generated by the search. Remember that algorithms have rated your article. Now you have to convince the humans that your’s is the article that they were searching for.
How to write a good article headline
In writing a good headline the article writer will have accomplished more than 50% of his task. Content writers have to devote enough time to write the headline to ensure that they have got it just right. There are various factors to consider before writing a headline.
Know your audience
Understand the personae you are addressing. The headline has to reach out and beguile a particular group of searchers that search for the keyword. The headline will change depending on whether you are addressing young adults or elderly citizens. The phrasing of, and the terms that you use in the headline will also be different depending on if you are targeting technocrats or laypeople. Write your headline in a way that it is appealing to the audience that you are addressing.
Make the headline SEO and reader-friendly
Keywords and key phrases in the headline play an important part in SEO rankings as well as in influencing a prospect. That is why your headline has to be short but comprehensive in what it conveys to the reader. Search engines ignore the trailing characters after about 60 characters of the headline. So a lengthy headline will not be displayed in its entirety. It is believed that headlines between 6 and 12 words convert better than longer headlines.
When surfers scan a headline, the first and the last three words register most in their brain. It is for this reason that you have to include the keyword at the front end of your headline. The keyword should be displayed on the web search page result and should be visible to the reader.
Write multiple headlines
Before starting to write the article, write as many headlines as you can using the keyword and keeping the audience in mind. As you write the article you will get more ideas for a headline. Note them down too.
Writing an article takes a lot of time and resources. When your article is only as good as your headline, any time that you spend on writing your headline is time well spent. Be clear and succinct in your headlines and tell the reader what the article is about. Don’t try to mislead the audience in order to get more clicks on your headline. That will be a mistake you will live to regret as your ‘bounce rate’ will increase, Google will notice, and rank your content lower as they see it as not bringing value to readers.
How to make your headlines more enticing
Now that you have finished writing your article and have several headlines, you can look at ways of improving their appeal to the reader.
Call for attention
Readers have a lot of things on their minds and a very short attention span. Statistic Brain Research Institute claims that a human being’s attention span is 8.25 seconds on average. You have to impress readers within that time or less, that reading your article will be helpful to them. Get them to read the first sentence and the rest of the content will carry them through till the end.
“Avoid COVID-19 infection: Here’s how”
“Write brilliant headlines: 11 tips”
Such headlines will grab the surfer’s attention and lead them to read your article. You have got only so much time to tell readers the value of the information you are giving them in the article. Use your headline to get the readers’ attention.
Empathising with the readers and providing solutions for their pain points is one of the best ways to attract attention to your headline. Try to address the reader as “you”. Flagging readers is an effective way to their attention and results in more conversions.
Some that I have written that then rank well are:
The above headlines show people they will learn something in a ‘how-to’ piece, and show people looking for a solution (ie a landing page builder’ that we will compare two of the biggest players in the market, and help them choose the one that will suit their needs.
Numbers register quickly in a human mind. Studies have found out that headlines containing odd numbers garner more clicks that do even numbers. And strangely readers like prime numbers even more. Make lists. When you include a number in your headline, the reader winds up reading one more word in your headline, which is the number.
“3 steps to writing a business plan for a beginner”
“5 tips to improve your SEO rankings”
“7 ways you can raise money to start a business”
Numbers, when small, not only attract a reader they also give him an idea of what he is in for. Such headlines also attract prospects because they promise concrete gains at the end of reading the article. List posts are a great favourite with readers.
Use strong words
Strong words like great, best, simple, free, useful, effective and essential etc. make for good article headlines. They tend to make the reader feel that your solution or suggestions are a must-read. The use of superlative adjectives is a great way to arouse readers’ curiosity.
“9 tips for writing enticing headlines”
“Smart ways to lose weight safely”
“Essential home hacks for a housewife”
These headlines use superlatives to describe things that readers are eager to know and increase the conversion rates of articles substantially.
Alliteration means using the same letters or the sounds in adjacent or related words. They not only sound nice to the ear but also attract a surfer’s attention to a headline. Using alliterations also reduces the use of stop words like the, or, but etc. Stop words are ignored by search engines and don’t do much to improve your SEO ranking.
“Hot headlines make brilliant bloggers: Here’s how”
“SEO suggestions for strong success”
Alliterations are hard to come by. But don’t miss an opportunity when you get one to coin a headline using alliteration. A headline using alliteration will get more readers reading your content than otherwise.
Ask questions and give answers to them. Questions are a great way to remind readers of their pain points. They empathise with the readers and make them aware of the trouble they are facing.
“Want to improve your SEO ranking? Here’s how”
“Should you use an RO filter for potable water”
You are asking disturbing questions in the above headlines and providing solutions to them in your content. Once the reader’s curiosity is aroused he will want to read your article increasing your score and SEO ranking.
Use data and statistics
Data and statistics, when included in a headline, give readers a sense of assurance that your contents are authentic. If you are using any data or statistics in your content try and include them in your headline.
“Only 2 out of ten browsers might read your article”
“30% of the world’s adults are obese. Lose weight the safe way”
“XYZ RO filter gives 99% pure water”
“Blogs that make millions of dollars annually”
Like numbers, quantities, percentages, dollars and money greatly influence readers. They feel that they need to know the how and what of it.
Rationalise your headline
Tell the reader why he should be doing what you are suggesting. Words that rationalise headlines are reasons, ideas, tips, ways, secrets, strategies etc. Give readers a good reason to read your article.
”5 tips to marketing on Facebook: #3 increased my sales by 15%”
“Improve your email marketing: 7 ideas”
“3 strategies to better SEO rankings that experts won’t divulge”
When you rationalise your headline readers think that they are privy to exclusive information. This induces them to read your article.
Make your headline unique
A unique headline means one that no article writers have used the headline before you. The way to check whether your headline is unique is rather simple. Just type the headline in the Google search box complete with the quotation marks and you will get the search results.
If you check
”5 tips for marketing on Facebook: #3 increased my sales by 15%” and
“Improve your email marketing: 7 tips”,
for uniqueness on Google search, you will get: No results found.
In trying to make your headline unique you have to be careful not to leave the keyword out of the headline. Articles with unique headlines are shared more often than others. You can choose a unique headline from one of the many you have written.
Creating urgency in your headline is a great way of convincing the reader that he can’t put off reading your article until later. He has to be convinced that he has to read it now.
“Avoid 5 mistakes I made as a blogger over four years”
“How I improved my sales in my eCommerce business”
The above headlines hint at urgent action. Anyone interested in them will not postpone the reading of your post.
Use emotional words
Emotional words like courage, amazing, success, heart, happy and others allow you to fascinate readers. Readers like an emotional story and will venture to read it more often than not. They wonder if they can emulate the fact.
“My audacious success in online business: You can do it too”
“Write from your heart to resonate with your readers”
“My stunning rise as a blogger after initial setbacks”
The appealing emotional headline will get you more followers and shares. Such headlines tell the reader that they are on to something exceptional.
You can use negativity to get the attention of the reader. Point out what they are doing wrong or are likely to do so and guide them to the right path. They would like to know what the problems are with doing what they are doing. That leads them to read your article.
“Ten things you shouldn’t do during the COVID-19 pandemic”
“5 mistakes you mustn’t make as a blogger”
“Five email marketing secrets you don’t know”
Using negativity in an article headline is risky. But if used wisely it can be a powerful tool to get browsers to read your article and to increase your following and sharing.
Offer permanent solutions
If you are offering a permanent solution to a nagging problem, include that in your headline. Permanent solutions are much sought after and will immediately draw the readers’ attention.
“Get rid of acne for good”
“8 easy ways to get rid of belly fat”
Such headlines will not only get you more readers they will also earn you more than your share of sharing.
Finish writing the headline
There is forever a debate on whether you should write your headline before or after writing the article. I believe that the best approach is to write all possible headlines before starting the article. Also, note down any other brain waves you might get while writing the article.
Once you have finished writing the article, choose one or two of the most suitable headlines that you have written. Check if you can use one or more of the above tips to make the headline more enticing. Finalise the headline and publish your article.
Avoid misleading your audience in your headlines in your quest for a larger following and shares. That will only harm your prospects and you will lose your hard-earned following. Be forthright and tell the readers exactly what you want to convey to them in the article.
How to Write a Headline For an Article: The Conclusion
Article writers must learn how to write headlines for an article because their returns on investment of time and resources will solely depend on how much the headline influences surfers. Converting people who scan headlines into readers must be the goal an article headline should achieve. To what extent writers manage to do that will be the measure of their success. Practice will make the task simpler over time.