12 Most Effective Ways To Craft A Headline For Social Media and Blogging
The more your articles are shared, the better chance they’ll be read by more people. This usually translates to increased traffic and your articles ranking higher on search engines. Descriptive, actionable headlines encourage people to click and read further.
Let me share with you the 12 most effective ways I’ve found to craft your headlines for social media and your blog.
1. Write headlines with your audience in mind
Knowing who your target audience is will greatly impact the way you craft your headlines. Avoid using broad, generic terms. Instead, use keywords related to topics your audience is searching for to attract their attention and increase the chance they’ll check out your content. As an example, many of my readers are mostly new WordPress users, so instead of “How To Monetize A Blog,” I’ll use this as a headline: “10 Easy Steps To Monetize Your WordPress Blog.” Not only does it speak to my audience directly, it also offers a direct benefit.
2. Create headlines that communicate benefits
Your goal is to pique your reader’s interest. People are much more likely to click and read your article if the headline addresses a specific need or offers a specific benefit. Be direct. Identify a need and offer a solution. For example, instead of just saying “10 Ways To Save On Your Grocery Bill” use “10 Ways To Save Money on Your Grocery Bill.” You can easily see the benefit just by the headline. It tells readers that they will save money if they click on your link.
3. Ask a question
People are naturally curious. By asking a question, you appeal to their natural curiosity and encourage engagement with your content. Speak in the first person to make it more personal. Don’t forget to use the word “you.” Your audience will feel you are speaking directly with them which will make your message more meaningful on a personal level. For example, use headlines like “Is Corn Bad For You?” or “What Is Your Favorite Social Media Tool For Engagement, Facebook or Twitter?” Both titles asks readers a question and to give their opinion.
4. Add keywords to your headline
Before I buy anything, I search for related information and product reviews on the web. Adding keywords to your headlines will help your post rank higher in search results and more likely grab the attention of people scanning the results. Here are some keyword search tools that can help you detect trends and see what people are searching for:
● Google Trends
● Google Keywords
● Twitter Search
● Social Mention
For example, if you are writing about healthy eating, instead of just using the headline “Different Snack Ideas” use “10 Mouthwatering Healthy Snack Ideas.” Since the second headline is much more descriptive, it will be more likely to catch the attention of those people searching for information on healthy eating.
5. Use action words
Choose words that will grab your reader’s attention and encourage action. Here are some examples of action words I’ve found effective in terms of click through and shares: simple, useful, effective, secret, easy, best and free.
When writing headlines, make sure the copy is an accurate representation of the benefits you promise in your article. This is especially important if you are new and still building thought leadership. Being less than honest can significantly damage your personal brand. Your integrity and reputation is everything.
For example, use headlines like “10 Easy To Install WordPress Plugins For 2013” or “5 Secrets Of Gaining Lean Mass.” Both examples offer clear and actionable benefits to your readers. They’ll be more likely to click and read your articles knowing they can gain a tangible benefit.
6. Your headline should be a summary of your post
While persuading people to actually read your article is your main goal in crafting great headlines, it should also serve as a brief summary of your post. Your content should match the topic of your headline. Be specific and describe exactly what’s to follow in your article.
For example: when a reader sees the headline “25 Awesome and Clever Ways To Use Duct Tape,” they know immediately that your article is a list of different ways to use duct tape. The headline is clear, simple and states exactly what the article is all about.
7. Use numbers
Including numbers in your headlines is compelling. It creates curiosity. This can be done in a number of ways. One is through lists, similar to here at 12 Most. Readers know that they can skim through your post easily and zero in on parts most interesting to them.
Use numbers as supporting documentation for your content. For example, “How We Increased Our Email Subscribers by 600% with OptinMonster” was a headline I wrote for a recent article. By adding the percentage increase in the number of subscribers right in the headline, my readers were more compelled to click and read about how they could achieve the same results.
8. Keep your headlines short and concise
The average length of your headlines should be 8 to 10 words. Keep your headlines as concise and brief as possible. Remove anything that doesn’t clearly communicate what your article is about. When including numbers, use numerals instead of words to keep your headlines compact.
A good example is one of my recent headlines: “How I Discover and Share Engaging Content On Twitter.” This explicitly tells the reader the article will be about how I personally share and discover content on Twitter. I used nine words with no fluff or unnecessary phases. Direct, concise and to the point.
9. Mix it up when resharing older or updated articles on social media
Don’t be afraid to share evergreen articles or posts you recently updated. If you don’t, who will? Vary the copy in your headlines when resharing to reach potential new readers.
For example, the original headline of an article I wrote was: “10 Inadvertent Blogging Mistakes and What You Can Do To Make It Right.” When I reshared it again on Twitter, I rewrote the headline to read: “10 Of The Most Common Blogging Mistakes.” Even though I changed the words, it still carried the same essence of the original headline. This simple change will tend to attract new people to check out your article.
10. Never use all capital letters in your headlines
It’s common practice to capitalize just the first letter of words in headlines. Never use ALL CAPITAL LETTERS. Not only is this not allowed when writing press releases, it can be very annoying to your reader. If you want to attract attention and emphasize your message, choose related action words instead.
For example, instead of using “5 HEALTH BENEFITS OF SPICES” use “The 5 Incredible Benefits Of Spices.” Using the word incredible emphasizes the key benefit without annoying your reader with ALL CAPS.
11. Optimize your headline for sharing on Twitter
When you share your content on Twitter, you not only want people to read it, you also want them to share it. Keep your headlines to less than 120 characters so your article can be retweeted easily. Hashtag keywords to make it easy for people to find your post through Twitter search.
For example, the tweet “Beginners Guide: 25 Most Common WordPress Mistakes to Avoid http://buff.ly/1hdPVrZ via @wpbeginner ” is a total of 98 characters including the link and name of the originating site. This leaves room for 42 characters for people to share, comment and retweet.
12. Optimize your headlines for sharing on Facebook
When sharing content on Facebook, adding a descriptive headline is crucial to encourage engagement. According to PostRocket, posts with less than 250 characters get 60% more engagement on average.
For example, I recently shared a photo on Facebook with the headline “Want to save time? Then start using these useful keyboard shortcuts for WordPress. http://buff.ly/1afCW3Z #WordPress #blogging.” The post generated seven shares and 19 likes with comments. My post included a photo with a title that had 129 characters and hashtags, a question and offered a direct benefit to the people who liked the page on Facebook.
Descriptive, well written headlines have a huge impact on the shareability of your articles as well as encouraging people to subscribe to your blog. Experiment and test different headlines to see what works best.
Do you find it a challenge to write headlines? What steps have you taken to improve? Share your experience by leaving a comment.
Photo credit: Big Stock Photos