If you don’t know how to write headlines, you might as well quit blogging.
Your business probably needs a blog.
According to a report by digital marketing software developers Hubspot, businesses that commit to blogging receive 55% more web traffic and 70% more leads than those that do not.
But it’s one thing to have a blog. It’s quite another to ensure that your blog is read.
Your blog could be beautifully written, updated every single day, and it could consistently provide the sort of valuable content that transforms visitors into customers. But if nobody is reading your blog, you might as well not have bothered.
So how do you ensure that people read your blog?
You write the sort of headline that’s impossible to ignore.
The Secret to a Good Headline
At the time of writing, it’s only 10:57am on a quiet Tuesday morning. And yet, it seems that 1,746,896 blogs have already been published today.
Even if we treat those numbers as a rough estimate, that’s still a copious amount of content.
Every single day, people are exposed to an almost unlimited choice of things to read online. Nobody has time to read it all – so why should they bother reading your blog?
Whether they realise it or not, people tend to only read things online that they feel will benefit them – even if the “benefit” in question is simply 10 minutes or so of amusement.
So the trick to writing a good headline is to make it clear just how your blog post will benefit the reader.
How to Outline the Benefits of Your Blog
Let’s take a look at the title I used for this post:
How To Write Headlines That Attract More Readers To Your Blog
Those first two words – how to – are the key to outlining the inherent value of your blog. With those words alone, you’ve instantly told any prospective readers that, through reading your blog, they might learn something new.
What follows is the transition word – that – followed by the benefit I’m offering – attracts more readers to your blog.
Did my headline work? If you’re reading this, then yes. It did. After all, what sort of blogger doesn’t want to attract more readers?
As people are faced with a seemingly endless choice of things to read online every single day, people have learned to be ruthless when it comes to choosing what to read. They tend to scan headlines, and if they don’t like what they see, that’s it. They move on, and your blog goes unread.
But the more effectively you can use your headline to sell the benefits of your blog, the more readers you can attract to your blog.
Content marketing experts Copyblogger have an invaluable white paper on writing “magnetic headlines”. They suggest that, when writing “how to” headlines, you abide by the following formula:
This stuff works. They’ve tested it!
Headlines – What Else Works?
As effective as they are, you should not make your every blog post a “how to” post. No matter what sector you’re operating in, your readers are savvy. If you use the same tactic time and time again, they’ll see right through your game.
Luckily, when it comes to writing the sort of headlines that attract readers, there are many things you can try:
Ask A Question
Just like I did above – what else works?
Questions are hugely effective at piquing the interest of potential readers, and if the question is intriguing enough, they may feel that they have no choice but to read your blog, in search of answers.
However, if you’re going to ask a question in your headline, it is vital that your blog then proceeds to answer this question. If you don’t, your readers may feel deceived and disappointed. They may cease to trust your blog, and by extension, your business.
Write a list
You know the score – 7 Reasons Why…, The 6 Secrets…., The Top 12…
Here’s three reasons why list posts are almost always effective:
1. They provide an immediate idea of how long your blog will take to read, which is perfect for your time-starved audience.
2. They give a clear idea of just what, exactly, your blog is promising. They can even be combined with “how to” headlines to create the sort of invitation that’s almost impossible to resist – How To Grow Your Business – 7 Hugely Effective Things to Try
3. This one is key for business bloggers: List posts demonstrate that you are a master within your sector. They can be used to build the trust and authority of your brand. And if your readers associate your business with authority and trust, they’ll be much more likely to convert.
The internet is full of top five lists, top 10 lists, and top 20 lists. If you want your blog to stand out, try to stick to a number that’s not a multiple of five.
How to Write Good Headlines Time & Time Again
Bad news: you probably can’t. Nobody can.
Good headlines are the backbone to successful business blogging. However, it’s only through extensive trial and error that we understand as to what exactly makes for a “good” headline.
It’s for this reason that even the most skilful, experienced, and successful bloggers occasionally write the odd duff headline. They’re always learning, and always experimenting – which is what makes them so good!
If you want to hone your headline writing skills, there are a few things you can do:
1. Pay Attention
Every time you read a blog, ask yourself – what exactly was it in the headline that encouraged you to start reading?
The most successful business bloggers are always striving to keep abreast of what works, and why. Look beyond the blogs. Look at newspaper headlines, magazine articles, advertising billboards. Everything you see will have been painstakingly written so as to attract and retain your attention. What, precisely, are they doing to achieve this?
2. Don’t Copy, but Adapt
Rather than simply copying the most successful headlines you encounter, instead take some time to understand why they work, before adapting them to suit your own purposes.
Different approaches will work for different businesses and different sectors. Appreciate that it will take time before you discover the approach that works for your business, and your content.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Falter
So you spent a full hour crafting what you thought would be the perfect blog title, only to see your post sink without a trace. Don’t be disheartened. In the long run, your unsuccessful blogs can prove just as valuable as your successful blogs, because they give you an idea of what doesn’t work.
Take some time to consider just why this post failed. Was your title too vague, or too hyperbolic? Were the benefits you promised not appealing enough? Did your post fail to deliver on the promise of your headline? In any case, you can use this information to craft a better headline next time.
The advice featured in this blog is by no means exhaustive. There are thousands of ways to write good blog headlines, but only through extensive experimentation will the secret become clear to you.
The more you read, the more you write, and the more you experiment, the better you will understand what makes for a successful headline. And the better you understand successful headlines, the more readers you’ll attract to your blog.