Whether you’re writing an article, an email, or a social media post, a great headline is the most important part of that piece of content. You have to start with a great headline. When you get the headline right, then the rest of the piece is stronger.
If you want to be marketing your business effectively, you need to be creating great content. Content marketing is the key to getting people to know, like, and trust you. So you should be creating useful, helpful, valuable information for your audience.
But the truth is, it won’t matter how amazing your blog post or video is if no one clicks on the headline to read or watch it.
Why a great headline matters
Great content is important, there’s no doubt about that. But I’d argue that a great headline is the most important part of any type of content you create.
On average, 80% of people will read your headline while only 20% will read, watch, or listen to the rest.
Let’s say you write an awesome blog post or record an epic podcast episode and then share that on social media. 8 out of 10 people who see your post will read the headline. That’s great! But only 2 out of 10 will actually read that post or listen to that episode. That’s a problem!
If your headline isn’t that interesting or compelling they’ll just keep on scrolling.
A great headline is a promise
Think about the articles or emails you’ve read lately. What is it about those headlines that made you stop scrolling and read the article or open the email? And I’m not talking about clickbait headlines like “When You Read These 19 Shocking Food Facts You’ll Never Want to Eat Again!”
Those headlines probably grabbed your attention because they made a promise to you. You clicked the headline because you wanted them to make good on that promise.
A great headline should make a compelling promise to your audience. Your content simply needs to deliver on that promise.A great headline makes a compelling promise to your audience. Your content simply delivers that promise. Click To Tweet
Always write your headline first
If your content is delivering on the promise of the headline, then it makes sense to always write your headline first.
Before you write your blog post outline or write your video script or podcast notes, spend the time to write a great headline.
Make a strong and compelling promise first, then write the rest of the piece.
Every time I sit down to write a blog post or record a podcast, I get the headline right first. Sure I already have an idea of what I’m going to talk about. I might even jot down some notes or talking points. But I always work to get a great headline before I actually write the article.
A great headline makes your content better
When you start with a great headline that acts as a promise to your readers, writing your content becomes easier because you simply have to deliver on that one promise.
Starting with a great headline also makes your content stronger because you get laser-focused on one thing – fulfilling the promise of the headline. Your writing is simpler, clearer, and more compelling.
What makes a great headline?
A great headline is one that gets people intrigued enough to learn more. Clickbait headlines do this really well so does that make them great headlines? Some would say yes, but I don’t agree.
I believe the blueprint for a great headline is emotion, search engine friendliness, and authenticity.
A great headline is emotional
Emotional headlines draw people in. They speak directly to your audience’s feelings like competence, respect, or sense of belonging. Emotional headlines help show your audience there’s a real human being behind those words. It’s for these reasons that emotional headlines tend to get shared more often.
Here are some examples of emotional headlines and the emotions they invoke:
A Limited Number of Spots Still Available for Mastermind Group Coaching
Emotions invoked: Sense of belonging, exclusivity
How to Take Control of Any Business Meeting
Emotions invoked: Feeling respected, confidence
This 20-Minute Read Will Turn You into You a Marketing Genius
Emotions invoked: Feeling competent, intelligence
A great headline is search engine friendly
I’m not a big proponent of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tactics. Mainly because Google has made it pretty clear how you can rank higher in search results – create useful content and do it consistently. I do however believe that you should do a little bit of SEO on everything you create to help you get found.
How to make your headline more search engine friendly:
- Your headline should be the right length. Headlines that are around 55 characters or 6 words long tend to get the most click-throughs. This does not mean that every one of your headlines has to be exactly 6 words or 55 characters. Just try to keep it in that ballpark.
- Your headline should contain keywords. Your headline should contain a few searchable keywords or key phrases to help you get found. For this post, I’ve included the key phrase “great headline” and the keyword “content” because those are words people tend to use when searching for advice on writing better headlines.
- Your headline should be skimmable. When skimming through content, readers tend to pick up on the first three words or the last three words of your headline. Try creating meaningful groupings at the beginning and end of your headline.
A great headline is authentic
The biggest issue I have with all those clickbait headlines is that they almost never deliver on their promise. “Man Taunts Alligator and You Won’t Believe What Happened Next!” Actually, I will believe it. The man gets eaten by the alligator. Or he doesn’t. Either way, it’s completely believable!
A great headline should not trick people into clicking a link just to get ad traffic. This is almost never acceptable, but it’s the primary goal of every clickbait headline.
A truly great headline is truthful and authentic. It makes a promise and then the rest of the piece delivers on that promise. This is how you build trust with your audience.
The headline tool you should be using
Since coming up with a great headline is the most important part of your content, I’d suggest using the CoSchedule Headline Analyzer for everything you create. It’s a free tool that’s used by countless professional copywriters and content creators every day.
Just enter a headline and keep tweaking it until you get an acceptable score. It keeps you from having to think about everything that goes into writing a great headline; the tool does all the heavy lifting for you.
Keep creating great content, but start spending a little more time creating great headlines. You should start to see better engagement, more opens, and more social shares. And you won’t believe what happens next! 😉
When you’re creating content, do you always start with the headline? Try it out and then share your experience in a comment or in our Facebook group.