Headlines are one of the most underrated elements of blogging. They’re often afterthoughts, or even just generically written and slapped on top before starting to write.
But let me ask you this:
When you’re scrolling through your Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn feeds or even the newspaper if you want to get old school—how do you decide what to actually click on and go read?
In terms of getting traffic to your site from blog posts, headlines are the most important element, because they’re the first impressions people see.
Before we dive in, it’s important to note that you should slightly alter your headlines depending on where you’re promoting the article. Consider the demographic and cultural differences of the platforms, and adjust accordingly.
1. Spark Emotion
There’s actually a fair amount of research done on this one. There’s a great article written on OkDork by the company CoSchedule that analyzed headline data. They further verified old findings that the more emotional a headline is, the more it gets shared.
Advanced Marketing Institute has a free headline analyzer tool that I use for my headlines that measures the emotional marketing value (EMV) of a headline. The analysis I mentioned earlier found that a score of at least 30% EMV will have significantly more clicks and social shares than lower percentages. So, most of the time, my goal with headlines is to have a score of 30% or higher to increase likelihood of clicks and shares.
For example, for this post, here is my brainstorm session with EMV scores:
How to write attractive headlines – 20%
How to write headlines that convert – 33%
How to write effective headlines – 40%
How to Increase Headline Clicks – 40%
How to Increase Your Headline Clicks – 33.3%
How to Write Better headlines – 20%
5 Ways You can increase headline clicks – 28.57%
5 Ways to increase headline clicks – 33%
5 Ways to increase your headline clicks – 28.57%
As you can see, even the slightest change can make a big difference.
To further test its effectiveness, I tested a few of my most popular posts in terms of traffic and shares.
What’s interesting here is that he first two have close to 30% or higher, but the third one is very low on the scale, so I dug further to see what other factors come into play with a clickable headline, looking for patterns. Here’s what I found:
2. Write “How to”s
Headlines that have “How to” in them have good traffic and good share counts. They indicate that if people click through to the article, they’ll learn something, and especially in the realm of online marketing and business, that’s generally what people are looking to do when scouring around social media.
3. Make a list
Posts that are list-based performed well also. Humans like structure and order, so when we see a headline with a number, such as, “11 Marketing Hacks to Rank Your Kindle Ebook #1 on Amazon“, it tells us exactly what we’re in for, and that we can most likely read quick bullet points to consume faster if we’re short on time.
4. Be “Other” Oriented
Headlines that used “You” and “Your” in them got above average page views and social shares. People are self-centered, and we want things that are focused on us, so it’s not surprising that we click more on things directed toward us.
I did notice though that headlines using “you” or “your” that were more passive like “The Benefits of Teaching Everything You Know”, didn’t perform as well as direct headlines like “How Facebook Decides Who Sees Your Posts”. The more people felt directly talked to, the more they clicked.
5. Make them wonder
This is a fun one I like to do when posting to social media, but not in the actual title of the post.
I’m sure you’ve seen posts on Facebook or Twitter that say something like, “Top 10 reasons your best friend likes donuts (#7 made me lol)”.
These clever little demons make me click every time because I have to know what #7 is to see if it’s actually the best one or not. Creating a sense of mystery feeds off people’s undying need to know everything.
Another example of creating mystery is writing a headline like, “The One Thing Every Successful Entrepreneur Knows”. It makes me think that I want to be successful, so I better make sure I know this.
1. You should spend time crafting headlines
2. Adapt your headline depending on the platform you’re posting to
3. Use the free Headline Analyzer Tool to test for emotional marketing value, and try for 30%+
4. How Tos rock
5. Lists rock
6. Use “You” and “Your” to directly speak to readers
7. Create a mystery
8. Use a combination of these tactics