“On average, 8 out of 10 people will read your headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest.”
Writing seductive headlines is not just important, it’s fundamental. It is what compels someone browsing the web to click through and read your content and, believe it or not, many folks will share content on social media based purely on the headline. That’s the basic purpose of a headline in content marketing, and if it doesn’t do that, well, the battle is lost before you’ve even fired a shot.
Let’s face it, the statistics are not in your favour, when only 20% of people will read past the headline. We prefer to see it as an opportunity, though, to create the most compelling headlines we possibly can and set our content apart from the rest.
This article will show you a few top tips for writing seductive headlines, to help your content be part of the lucky 20%.
Writing Seductive Headlines
Seductive adj. capable of seducing; enticing; alluring
Are your headlines capable of enticing and alluring your readers?
A headline is a ‘promise,’ an agreement with the reader that if they click on it, they will be treated to a body of compelling copy on a topic that will be valuable and interesting to them. It is your chance to grab the attention of your target audience, and encourage them further into the sales funnel.
Headlines should be snappy, eye-catching and demonstrate the value of the article. The title of this article, for example, demonstrates clearly where it’s value lies, what the reader will learn from it, and grabs the reader’s attention with a stimulating adjective – ‘seductive.’ At least that’s what we hope it does. Let us know what you think in the comments space below.
‘Clickbait’ vs Search-Optimised Headlines
Are you trying to go viral, or rank well on search engines? Whichever it is, your individual marketing goals play a major role in the kinds of headlines that you write.
Classic, old-school SEO will match a headline to searcher intent based on user patterns, while more viral, social-friendly titles are designed as ‘clickbait’ to draw people in.
There is a sweet spot, a delicate balance between the intent of searchers, clickbait that will resonate on social and your personal marketing goals in one hard-hitting headline. It is quite a rare thing to hit that spot, and unless you are an experienced professional, it can be a fools errand to try and create content that hits all three.
Depending on the nature of your business and your marketing goals, it might be more prudent to choose one or the other. A more SEO, searcher intent focused headline might be more useful for the types of people you are trying to attract, or on the flip-side, a ‘click-baitey’ headline might be the most effective way of engaging your audience.
Check out this Whiteboard Friday by Rand Fishkin at MOZ on how to strike the right balance between clickbait and search-optimised titles.
Winning Headline Formulas
Believe it or not, most headlines are created using tried and tested formulas. Headlines don’t need to be new and ground-breaking in their format. There is a very good reason magazines, newspapers and online articles have been using the same headline formulas for years – they work.
Let’s have a look at some of these tried and tested, winning formulas for headline writing:
There is a good reason that we used a ‘How-To’ headline for this article. ‘How to’ articles are some of the most popular, shared and linked-to content online. People reading online articles are looking for useful information that will teach them something, quickly. The express benefits of a ‘How-to’ article in that respect are clear.
When you are trying to catch the attention of scanning eyes, a headline that focuses purely on the explicit benefits to the reader is always going to get more readers than one with implied value. It will likely generate more shares, likes and retweets, too.
This is a case of the ‘old ways are still the best’, because list articles have been around in marketing forever. They are renowned for their attention grabbing headlines – think of the popularity of listicle sites like BuzzFeed. The headline shows what the reader is going to get from the article, and demonstrates that it will be a quick, digestible read.
A headline that poses a question to the reader creates intrigue, and a desire to find out the answer. By asking this question, you establish yourself as the all-knowing person that has the answer. Headlines that pose a question are among the most seductive, and cement your place as an expert and authority in your field.
Should You Use Keywords?
As discussed above, search-optimised, keyword focused headlines are useful for targeting specific searchers, but keywords have uses beyond SEO. Niche phrases and keywords that appeal to the people in your target audience must feature in seductive blog article headlines. Keywords matter because they ensure that the headline is written in the language of the audience – the fact that they help with search ranking is a pleasant by-product.
Great headline writers understand that all headlines should make a seductive promise to its target audience. They can tweak their title content to fit into proven models, according to the context of the article. It’s part of a newsroom approach to content creation that we call ‘Brand Journalism.’
Our writers have mastered the critical skill of headline writing through years of practice. Would you like them to work for you?
Think you’ve nailed the headline? Well let’s move onto the next step, how to start a blog post!