Editor’s note: This post was written by Cari Bennette, a passionate blogger and writing consultant at jetwriters.com. Cari loves surfing websites for writers and sharing her advice on various forums and blogs.
Can you guess what’s the most important part of your blog post? I know, you probably think it’s quality content, right? Quality content builds your site’s credibility and keeps your readers coming back for more. What about visuals? A pretty picture draws the reader in, right? While both are important, neither of them are as important as a good headline.
Want some stats that quantify just how important the headline is? There’s the 50/50 rule which states that half of the time you spend writing a blog post should be spent composing the headline. And those who practice the 50/50 rule do so because of the 80/20 rule – 8 out of 10 people read a headline, but only 2 out of 10 read the post.
Seriously, all that research and writing you’re doing is great, but if your headline is off mark, you’ve lost traffic before you’ve even hit the “publish” button. The better the headline, the more likely the visitor will read the post either partially or in its entirety. If the headline provides a good hook, then you’ll get a curious reader. And what do curious readers do? They read!
Here are some successful headline types you may be overlooking:
- Use negatives. While staying positive is practically a requirement of our age, it’s interesting to note that when it comes to headlines, people are actually more drawn to read about “the worst” than “the best”. Nobody likes to feel like they’re being sold something and claiming that something is “the best” can activate suspicions that a product or idea’s worth is being exaggerated. It’s also far too common to encounter a “best” type of title, meaning it lacks the novelty to trigger a response, making it easy to ignore. Also, negatives are a way to tell people how to avoid making a mistake and nobody wants to make mistakes. “The worst”, “avoid”, “don’t” and “stop” are great negatives to become friendly with in your headlines. Ex: “Avoid These Headline Types in 2015”.
- Speak to your audience. Specifically addressing your audience in the headline breaks the neutrality barrier and makes the reader feel like you’re talking to them. For example, if you’re writing a blog about running, you could say, “How to Get You to Your Fastest Mile” or “This Season’s Shoes for Runners”. Using “you” or “runners” talks to a specific audience and makes them feel that by clicking, they’re not only gaining information that matters to them, but entering a conversation that’s about them.
- Pose a question. Questions are another way of engaging the reader in a dialogue. When they read the question, they immediately want to answer it. Then they want to know what your answer is, so they read on. Asking a question that the reader can answer for themselves is even more effective than asking a question only you know the answer to. They want to see if you agree or disagree with them. Questions like “Is it Okay to Swim After Eating?” or “Is Cheating a Deal-Breaker?” beg for debate. Start a debate on your post and watch the traffic swirl as the comments pile up.
- Talk specifics. Citing statistics, figures and facts in your headline is a very straightforward way of drawing your reader in. Numbers, names and titles tell the reader exactly what to expect from the article. No gimmicks or bait-and-switch. It gives the impression that you’re an authority on this subject, someone who’s done their research and can provides facts. Readers love an expert. Ex:“Senator Johnson Donates $15,000 to Marin County Pediatrics Hospital”.
- Offer benefits. Everyone likes advice on how to solve their problems. If you’ve spent some time figuring out how to solve a problem and wrote a post about it, by all means, let your readers know. They’re got a problem, and you’ve got the solution. All they have to do is click. Ex: “How to Get the Traffic You Want” or “Six Steps to Increasing Your Conversions”.
Giving attention to your headlines is the best thing you can do for your blog. Use headlines that work and watch the traffic begin to flow.
More tips on headlines: