When it comes to reading blogs, I'm pretty sure I have the attention span of a four year old. And sadly, so does most of the traffic that stumbles upon your blog. Luckily, there are a few things that can get me to put on the brakes and see what you have to say. Let me teach you how to optimize the one part of your post that makes all the difference – an effective headline.
What Draws Me In About Your Headline
Writing an effective headline is a key to getting your content to go viral. I need your blog's headline to draw me in. The best way to draw me in is to show me what I will gain from reading your post. If what you're offering coincides with what I'm looking for, you've got a win. Take this headline for example:
“Writing so Google Will Find You”
Not that impressive, but not a total loss. Compare it to this:
“How to Get on the First Page of Google”
Now that's more like it. I want to write so Google will find me, but even more than that, I want to be on the first page!
A Good vs. A Better Headline
In the example above, as well as in your own writing, deciding on an effective headline will often be a battle between what is good and what is better. As bloggers, we need to keep in mind our two deepest goals – having our voice heard and making money. Knowing that, the next step is to find the best way to reach those goals. Writing so Google can find us is a good way, but landing on the first page of Google is even better. Building Twitter followers is a good, but getting your Twitter followers to promote you or make purchases would be better. See the difference? Writing great headlines becomes even more important when it's on a landing page. Losing readers is bad, but losing sales hurts even more!
Speak to My Soul
There is only one reason why I read blogs – especially yours. I want to learn how to do something better. I don't just read because I'm bored. On occasion I will read to be entertained, but I normally head over to YouTube for that. I want to learn.
As a human, I have basic and often primal needs and fears. I have a need for sustenance, success and relationships. I fear failure and being alone. If you can give me solutions to these problems I will lap up your content like a thirsty puppy. Your headline needs to speak to my soul. It needs to address real concerns I have. It may sound a bit philosophical, but your post needs to address those innate questions we all have.
In a nutshell – solve a problem for me and I'm all yours.
Some Caveats to this Headline Lesson
Unfortunately, this isn't a fail proof system and let me explain why. First of all, you have no control over the specific problems your readers face or the solutions they're looking for. Being an authority in your niche, you probably have a good idea, but you'll rarely be able to write a headline that resonates with everyone, and that's normal. To maximize your successes you can vary your topics regularly to cover all your bases as thoroughly as possible. You can also ask for feedback and look for trends. Who better to let you know what your readers are looking for than your readers themselves!
Some good news is that experience plays a big part in what your readers are looking for. That's why knowing your market is so important. If you're writing for beginners, an article about being found by Google could be the perfect introduction to getting indexed. On the other hand, if you're targeting experts, they will want to know more advanced strategies to land on the first page in the SERPs. So what you deem to be a better headline will depend greatly on who your audience is.
Now there you have it! I know I'm a picky reader. I sincerely hope all your readers aren't as stubborn as I am! But even if they are, you're now properly armed to craft great headlines for all your blog posts. Use your skills wisely!