Hey, what’re you doing here?
Sorry if that sounded rude. But… really, why’re you on this page?
We’ll go out on a limb and guess your interest in this blog on headline writing was piqued by this blog’s headline. Or, you horribly missed the back button in your browser.
If you’re still reading this, congratulations! You’ve gotten further than 80% of internet readers would have, joining the 20% that do get past the content’s headline.
For content creators – like us – this can be a bit disheartening, but at the same time highlights the importance of a well-crafted header. Make no mistake – even if an internet user isn’t reading the content, a powerful headline can still be very influential.
To complicate headline writing however, the introduction of social media and search niches have forced us to alter our approach to headlines. Rather than solely focusing on driving traffic and clicks from a single channel, usually your website, social and search must be considered, too.
We’ll share our tried-and-true tips on writing must-click headlines, and what makes a headline pop in Facebook and search channels.
The Effects of Social Media and Search on Headlines
Let’s get this out of the way first: the perfect headline doesn’t exist. The title of this blog is really the closest you can get (Right? Right?), and even then it’ll need to be revised for social media and search platforms.
Each title must be an eye-grabbing, clickable title, appropriate for that channel. Remember that all sorts of people visit different channels for various reasons, meaning the headings must reflect a dynamic audience. What’s a hit on Facebook may have zero engagement on a Google search page.
Take this book title for example: “How to Win Friends and Influence People”. An accessible title to a popular book that sold very well. If it were to be published in a different medium however, the title should change. See how they might vary in these examples:
- Facebook – 12 Life Lessons to Help You Win Friends and Influence People
- Google – Life Lessons: How to Win Friends and Influence People
These variations are not written arbitrarily; each phrase is carefully constructed, each word holding a purpose. Follow our methods of madness in the proceeding sections for killer headlines that’ll encourage engagement from readers.
Writing Headlines for Facebook
Writing outstanding headlines for Facebook is important in this generation – it’s a potent traffic driver for a large number of websites. With recent algorithm updates to the social media platform, there’ll be less clickbait story typhoons, and more quality content. That makes it imperative to improve your headlines, as these stories won’t be passed by readers as the quality gradually increases.
What works best for Facebook? To quickly surmise, keep these three points in mind:
- Conversational and Descriptive Headlines
- Headlines Focused on Personal Experience
- Headlines That Aren’t Misleading
According to a Newswhip study on the effectiveness of Facebook headlines, they found the posts that received the most engagement had either very detailed and descriptive headlines, or incorporated language with a conversational vibe.
This is an effective tactic when you’re first playing around with Facebook headlines: people simply want to know exactly what they’re getting from your content. Even better still, Facebook allows you to add a little description for any content you post or promote, allowing for an even more accurate description on the piece. When coming up with a conversational headline, try to imagine describing your content to a good friend – what language would you use? Bam, there’s your headline.
Headlines focused on personal experience is another click-worthy approach in Facebook. At its foundation, Facebook is built on people sharing stories with people, so content that’s relatable, or from a first-person perspective, will always perform well.
Finally, no one likes being misled, so avoid headlines that are misleading, or ‘baiting’ for clicks. That ‘You’ll Never Guess What Happened Next!’ formula doesn’t fly on Facebook – internet users are above that now. Deceptive titles can include ones that withhold information (eg. ‘This Celebrity Just Saved a Ton of Money on Car Insurance’), or ones that are exaggerated (eg. ‘Soy Milk is Actually Unhealthy for You!’). Then your article clarifies the title, saying drinking three gallons of soy milk a day is unhealthy – though most internet users won’t get past the title anyway.
Headlines for Search
Alright, forgot everything you just read about Facebook titles – search titles is a new ball game. Social media headlines are predicated on trying to be as eye-grabbing as possible, pushing to catch the attention of a user’s eye scrolling their news feed casually. Search headlines differ in that you need to appeal to users searching for that specific phrase or topic in their content focus.
Here’s what typically works for us:
Front-Loaded Titles: Google puts more weight into the words at the start of your title tag. As a side note, if you’re ranking for keywords in your title, make sure you’re starting off with those terms. So if you wanted to rank for ‘social media tips’, for example, your headline could look something like this – Social Media Tips: Ten Ways to Grow Your Following.
And keep your titles short! As the SEO experts at Moz explain:
“Google typically displays the first 50-60 characters of a title tag, or as many chacters as will fit into a 512-pixel display. If you keep your titles under 55 characters, you can expect at least 95% of your titles to display properly. Keep in mind that search engines may choose to display a different title than what you provide in your HTML. Titles in search results may be written to match your brand, the user query, or other considerations.”
Use Your Brand Name: You can attach your brand to the end of your title, which will hopefully generate trust, familiarity, and clicks. Studies have shown that people not only react to the content of an article, but it’s source too.
Now that you’re a master of must-click headlines…you need to content to back it up.
If your website is in need of SEO-rich web content, Eden’s SEO team can draft blogs, P.R., or other web copy that’ll have your site ranking on the first page of Google searches. To learn more about our SEO strategies and other web services, contact us today!