Finding Readers With Headlines
If you’re working your tail off writing high-quality relevant content and you’re still having trouble attracting readers, then maybe it’s time to look at your headlines. Your post and article titles are a lot more important that you might realize. So stop beating yourself up and follow these tips to help you find more readers with your headlines.
Why Your Headlines Are So Important
When your headline pops up on a search engine index it’s surrounded by other headlines that address the same keyword. And don’t forget about your headline appearing alongside others if someone is using an RSS reader.
The average person only scans what he reads on the Internet, which means you have only seconds to grab his attention.
Don’t Be A Tease
Trust me, I know how tempting it is to use whimsical titles or word-plays and in some cases they do attract attention. But the best way to use this type of title is to use at least a few words that let searchers know exactly what your article is about.
A lot of your new traffic comes through the search engines where people find your link mixed in with ten or twelve others. And organic traffic is typically looking for specific information – they want an answer to a question.
Prioritize Your Wording
Whether you’re using a single, general keyword or a more specific longtail keyword, put it as close to the beginning of your headline as possible. Not for the search engines’ benefit because they’ll scan your entire headline. But it makes more of a psychological impact with your reader if he sees your keyword at the very beginning of the title.
Remember, he’s scanning an entire page of titles. Make sure his eyes stop on yours.
Be Strong, But Brief
I know I keep coming back to this “scanning” thing, but it’s important. Searchers simply will not take time to think about the true meaning of your title when they have nine other perfectly clear titles to choose from.
When you think you have the perfect title, sit back and look at it. What would a searcher think it means? Does it tell him exactly what he’ll find if he follows your link?
Once you’ve settled on the perfect headline, take another look. Can you omit extraneous words such as “a” or “be” or “your?” Anything you can do to make your title shorter and still convey the message will help the reader decide to click your link.
Are you delivering on your promises?
I’ve seen many bloggers intentionally mislead readers with their post titles. They promise one thing because they want to rank for that keyword and then they deliver something else. It’s also an easy mistake to make, so even seasoned bloggers sometimes get a little off target.
Personally, I prefer to write my titles first so I always stay on message, but you may prefer to write your content first. Either way, always make sure the two agree. You headlines may help find readers but they’re not going to stick around if you’re not delivering on your promises.