What makes people decide which articles to read and which to ignore?
How can you improve the CTR of your article?
Most writers will tell you that headlines make or break your article. It doesn’t matter if your article contains the secret to eternal happiness, no one will read your article if you don’t have a great headline.
To convince readers to click-through your article, your headline needs to induce curiosity while being honest and simple. This article will guide you through some tricks that can be used to create good headlines that will improve the organic click-through rates for your website or blog.
1. Make Sure Your Headline is Optimized
According to search engine people, 75% of Internet users don’t scroll beyond the first page of Google results. This is not surprising, given that Google’s algorithm gives you relevant results to your query in the first page. However, this means that you need to fight harder to put your article out there in the first page.
For this, your headline needs to be search engine optimized. Of course, this applies to the article in general and not just the headlines, but why forego a chance to optimize your article wherever possible?
(You can learn more about SEO and other marketing tips by taking this course.)
Use tools like Answer the Public and check what questions are being asked about the topic you are writing about. Try and structure your headline to answer a commonly asked question. This could help put your article right on top of the Google search results.
Additionally, keep headlines short – preferably below 60 characters. Search engines won’t show the full headline if it is above 65 characters and this may reduce the effectiveness of your headlines.
Take these headlines for example
Headline 1 – Pesky Insects Eating Your Plants? Try These Products to Get Rid of Bugs in Your Backyard
Headline 2 – 10 Tips To Eliminate Bugs in Your Backyard
2. Use Numbers Within Your Headlines Whenever Possible
Headlines with numbers really do work! Additionally, smaller numbers work better than bigger ones. And for reasons unknown, odd numbers read better than even numbers.
It is possible that people who see numbers in your headlines intrinsically feel like they gain quantifiable value when they read your article. Or maybe they feel like they know what they are getting into when they see a specific number in your headline. Take the headline of this article for example – When you read “10 hacks”, you get a sense of the countable benefits you gain from reading this article. Whatever the reason, use numbers whenever possible in your headline without forcing it.
According to a survey by Conductor, 36% of all potential readers preferred articles with numbers in them.
What’s more, 39% of women prefer enumerated numbers in them as compared to the 32% of men who took the survey.
The study also shared some interesting headlines about the casing-preferences of headlines.
- 64% of the population preferred headlines with title casing
- 21% preferred headlines with capital letters
- Only 7% of the participants preferred headlines in lower-case
Researchers saw an unexpected trend in this study. They found that a lot more people than they had anticipated liked headlines in upper casing. This means that headlines like “10 WAYS TO MAKE ART OUT OF SCRAP” appealed to an average of 1 out of 5 participants.
3. Speak the Language of Your Audience
Most articles are written for a specific audience. If you are writing about troubleshooting code errors, then your article should target people who deal with code. However, if your article is focused on helping beginners learn easy fixes to code errors, then your target audience would be say, content writers who dabble in basic codes. Your headlines in this case cannot be filled with industry-specific jargon.
So, how do you do this?
Think like your audience -
Ask yourself what you would look for if you were in the place of your reader. If you are a beginner looking to make a simple html code fix, then you are likely to type “HTML code fixes for beginners.
Construct headlines using keywords that target your audience –
If your article is intended to help beginners fix code errors, your headline could read:
- A Beginner’s Guide to Fix HTML Code Errors
- 10 Easy HTML Code Fixes Every Content Writer Should Know
- Learn How to Fix HTML Code Errors Without Any Coding Experience
4. Concise and Crisp Headlines are Sometimes the Better Headlines
When constructing your headline, make sure that is clear and concise. If your headline is rambling and long without a concise objective, then it irks everyone who reads it. Think about how your article will be shared in social media websites – in sites like Twitter and Facebook, your headline is often the only thing seen.
Follow these Tips for a Well-Constructed Headline
– Write to the point; don’t complicate it
– Identify the crux of your article and find a way to phrase that in one sentence
– Use words that convey urgency and purpose like “Stop” or “Eye-Opening”
– If you are writing about hacks or tips, then include the problem and the solution in your headline
10 Hacks to Get Rid of that Pesky Garden Insects – Identifies the problem of pesky garden insects and the provides the solutions to these problems.
5. Let Your Headline Answer the Questions Your Readers Ask
Trust is an important factor to consider when creating content. One major function of writing articles is to keep readers coming back for more. This cannot happen if your readers don’t trust you. Avoid creating headlines that create hype without substance to back it. A headline that reads “We didn’t believe it and you won’t either” is vague and most readers know better than to read your content. Readers don’t want to be tricked into reading anything. Remember the instinctive beliefs readers hold – If the headlines are vague, it’s because the content has nothing worthwhile to say.
An interesting statistics we stumbled on in Hubspot is that 50% of search queries are four words or longer. Which means that when people type in a query, if your headline is a response to the query, then your article might just get ranked higher on the Google search page.
For Example –
Your headline that reads “ 12 Amazing DIY Supply Stores in Seattle” would be chosen by Google as a relevant answer if a user types the query “DIY Supplies in Seattle”.
Additionally, sensationalism and headlines that exaggerate may work once, but would keep people from visiting your site again.
6. Add a Dash of Mystery to Your Headline
This tip seems contradictory to the previous one, but this method does have its (sparing) use. This is a thin line to follow – the headline must pique the curiosity of readers without making exaggerating claims. While this form of headline structure is used everywhere, it is particularly useful in technology-based articles. Headlines that read “This technology has changed the way NASA looks at space exploration” would be an example of such a headline. This form of headline is borderline overused, so you should take care when using it.
7. Use Punctuation to Add Character to Your Headlines
According to the Content Marketing Institute, headlines with a colon or a hyphen indicate the presence of a subtitle and works 9% better than regular headlines. Headlines with hyphens indicate an extra layer of information present in the article. This serves to increase the curiosity quotient of your readers.
Other punctuation points are also useful. While copy editors cringe at the thought of ending a statement with more than one exclamation point, researchers show that headlines with 3 exclamation points doubled their chances at being clicked when compared to all other punctuations.
8. DO NOT be afraid to Tap into Your Reader’s Emotions
The structure of headlines has changed over the years. While emotionally neutral headlines were preferred earlier, headlines today are structured to appeal to people’s emotions.
This headline is an example of the use of emotional appeal -
These 10 mistakes are damaging children’s self-confidence, Are you making these mistakes?
Parents who read this headline are instantly worried and are bound to click the link to check if they are part of the demographic mentioned in the article.
When Negativity Works its Magic
A study by Outbrain tell us that the click-through rate for negatively headlined articles (The 10 Worst Foods to Give Your Dog) is better than the CTR for positive headlines (10 Foods that All Dogs Love).
According to this study, articles headlined with negative superlatives performed 30% better than those headlines with no superlatives. Headlines with negative superlatives fared 63% better than those articles with positive superlatives.
Psychology has an explanation for this – people are drawn to negativity because it serves to protect them from danger, while positive emotions make them disconnected.
This does not mean that all headlines should ooze negativity. Marketers believe that while the CTR for negative headlines are higher; people are more likely to share headlines with positive words.
9. Construct Formulas that Work for You
No two writers have the same writing process. Play with different headline formulas that could help you create sure-fire ways of making good headlines.
One successful formula used by writers is using call-to-action words like “Learn” or “Try”. Headlines with these words invoke a sense of urgency in readers that make them more likely to want to read your article.
For example; People pay attention to headlines like “Stop What You’re Doing and Look at These Mind-Blowing Pictures of Solar Flares”.
Simplify Your Job
It is often difficult for writers to think of the best-possible adjectives to use in headlines. It is more likely that they think of good adjectives when they are working on something else. For this reason, it is suitable to make a list of adjectives and add to them whenever you think of new ones.
10. Use Terms in Your Headlines that are Commonly Used while Speaking
It is best to make content that is adapted to new trends like voice searches.
Let’s look at the statistics given below (Courtesy, Hubspot)
– 19% of people use Siri at least daily
– 37% use Siri, 23% use Microsoft’s Cortana AI, and 19% use Amazon’s Alexa AI at least monthly.
– 20% of search queries on Google’s mobile app and on Android devices are voice searches.
– 43% of mobile voice search users do so because they say it is quicker than going on a website or using an app.
People using voice searches are more likely to search for “Best restaurants in London” than they are to search for “Spectacular Restaurants in London”. When writing headlines, use words that are commonly used. These words may bore you as a writer, but for readers, they act as a link to familiar emotions and meanings. With several headlines vying to get their attention, readers aren’t going to spend more than a moment’s time in trying to decipher the intent behind your headline.
In a nutshell –
There are 10 tips to remember when making great headlines
- Optimize Your Headlines for Search Engines
- Include Numbers When Possible
- Make Headlines Relatable
- Don’t be Afraid of Keep it Simple
- Construct Your Headlines to Answer Potential Questions
- Use Terms that will Pique Your Reader’s’ Curiosity
- Don’t Shy Away From Punctuation
- Tap into the Emotions of Your Readers
- Find the Perfect Headline Formula That Works for You
- Use Words That are Commonly Spoken
A lot of factors go into making a headline work for you. Don’t shy away from experimentation. Sometimes the outrageous ideas are ones that work best.
If you have any other points to add, hit us up in the comments section. We’d love to hear from you!