Curiosity is key when it comes to content marketing. There are millions of pieces of content out there for readers to choose from, and whether certain pieces get chosen or not ends up looking a lot like survival of the fittest. The thing that can matter more than almost anything else in that survival process? Headlines.
If leads don’t click through to read your content, they definitely aren't going to click on your call to action. Having a headline that grabs readers’ attention amid all of the content noise, then, couldn’t be more important.
Most people retweet news stories without ever actually reading the articles. In fact, 59% of the links people share on Twitter have never been clicked. That means people are sharing based purely on a headline and possibly the first sentence of an article that appears in the preview.
What's more, when people do actually click through to a page, over half of them only stay on it for 10 to 20 seconds.
The moral of the story? You don’t have a lot of time to hook readers and keep them engaged. But before you stop reading this (See what we did there?) and give up on content creation altogether, there is good news: Your headline can make this possible.
So you might be asking, "What makes a good headline?" The first thing to know is that your headline should be a quick, easy read. As we’ve said, you don’t have long to make your mark. Readers typically catch the first and last three words of a headline, so keeping it short and sweet is best.
A concise headline can also spark readers’ interest because it doesn’t give everything away. Keeping it short means you can say just enough to pull readers in and prompt them to read more.
Finally, make sure your headline has purpose. Don’t make it too formal, but instead write it in a conversational way that entices readers to learn more and makes them click through to the piece and stick with it.
Headlines are more than just the catchy hook for readers. They serve real, strategic goals — specifically SEO.
For instance, crafting blog headlines that include relevant keywords is a crucial part of making sure your content is seen and ranks well in search results — and securing that high ranking makes you appear more trustworthy from a reader's perspective. If you then use the same keywords in any guest-contributed content you create, you can use them as anchor text to link back to your blog and increase its rank. Ultimately, SEO-optimized headlines can drive traffic to your site, improve your search rankings, and lead to more conversions for your business.
There are a few best practices when it comes to writing headlines for SEO:
Finally, use tools to help you see in what areas your headlines are strong and in what areas they could use some work. CoSchedule, for instance, analyzes and scores your headline and shows you how it will appear in search results. BuzzSumo lets you enter a topic or keyword and see a list of viral headlines based on the results. Resources like these offer up a great way to keep your headlines optimized for search and compelling for readers.
You’ve learned how to write headlines that work in the past few minutes, but there’s one last way to ensure your content has the best headline possible and is pulling readers in to read what you have to say: working with an expert content marketing partner.
We all need help to grow and learn in everything we do, including content creation. Working with a content partner that specializes in content creation, including headline writing, will allow you to attain content marketing results far beyond what you thought possible.
In a broad way, having a partner that specializes in content marketing and SEO will ensure that your headlines are great because they know it's an integral part of content creation. Your content partner should also be an expert in tone and voice, which means it can create headlines for your pieces that sound as if you wrote them yourself.
When it comes to your goals, a content partner can make it possible for you to align your content strategy with the right headlines for the right audience and the right success metrics. It’s the partner's job to focus on making your content shareable, SEO-ready, and primed to be amplified.
Find a content marketing agency to help you write attention-grabbing headlines so you can be confident that you'll have a partner ready to bring you the most unique, goal-oriented content possible — with headlines to match.
This blog post was co-written by my wonderful team: Bri Hickman, Jeremy Doherty, and Lauren Tellman.
I'm an editor at Influence & Co. I am equal parts love of books, politics, coffee, '90s sitcoms, NPR, and Christmas music. And the Oxford comma. And, apparently, incomplete sentences for the sake of emphasis.