It’s What You Say…AND How You Say It

The Importance of Headlines and Subheads in Content

A guide to crafting the right language for your posts and blogs

When you’re writing your next post or blog, consider this: 80% of people will read your headline, but only 20% will venture past there. So, if you’ve read this far, congratulations! you’re among the 20% who stuck it out past the headline.

In today’s busy virtual world, you need to be more concise than ever to get attention. If you want to keep your followers’ attention while conveying the gist of your story, keep headlines to around seven words or about 50 characters.

Why is it important to keep your content short and concise? Here are 5 reasons to spend a little time and show a little love to your next blog or post headline.

  1. People are inherently lazy online. They may only read your headline (gasp) and not your story. Heard of “click bait?” It’s where writers use the most inflammatory headlines they can to attract attention and entice people to click on their links. Problem is, many of those click bait links with the catchiest headline draw the reader into nowhere land or toward content they really aren’t interested in. Your title should tell readers exactly what the article or blog is about so the reader knows exactly what content he or she is about to consume.
  2. The longer your content headers, the more you risk getting it cut off in the initial view readers will have when they search their web browsers. You may have noticed in your search results that not all the words show in the first view? That’s because most search engines will display 2-3 lines and that’s it. So your superbly crafted headline of “Why you should play with your own balls………on the golf course” may only show the first 7 words and then where would you be?
  3. Another reason to pay attention to the length of your content (whether for blogs or news content) is because you don’t want to give away your secret sauce up front. If you’ve written a great story on How to _____________(fill in the blank), you don’t want people reading just the title and getting the answer to their question without looking at your content, right? You want them to spend time on your page reading your content and hopefully interacting with other pages on your site.
  4. Don’t get carried away with brevity issue and leave out important clues to your content! Google appreciates brevity and conciseness, however, if your headline reads, “Cost Rica’s Best Coffee” but the story is about the time you went to Canada and drank coffee grown in Costa Rica, you’re not going to make them very happy. And the readers who landed on your content with a search for “Costa Rica coffee” aren’t going to get what they came for. Be concise, but be sure the headline accurately reflects the content.
  5. Finally, a well-crated headline can be used across multiple marketing channels. Whether it’s an online newsletter, a blog story, or an Instagram or Facebook post, we, as consumers, now appreciate consistency and relevancy when we search. When your headline reads “Six Tips for Enhancing Your SEO,” I know (well, assuming anyway) that I’m going to see 6 tips for enhancing my SEO. This short, concise headline will tell me in an instant, whether or not I want to read on.

Here’s a couple extra no-no’s for your writing pleasure:

  1. Don’t try to be too cutesy. Words like BEST, ONLY, GREATEST, imply your content is better than any other content out there on the web and, well, sometimes that’s just not true.
  2. Don’t use slang, acronyms, or chat speak in your content. People who are looking for legitimate, helpful information, will probably discount your credibility if they don’t understand your headline…and guess what? They’re not too likely to keep reading after that.
  3. Don’t lie. Sounds like a no-brainer right? But click bait headlines have shown us that lying gets views. Or at least views of the first page. After that, any knowledgeable consumer will bail.
  4. Don’t spell words wrong. I know that sounds ridiculous, but trust me. The Michigan Pubic Schools didn’t appreciate my lack of an “L” in their blog headline. Hey, it’s a word? Spell check said so!

Writing post or blog content isn’t really all that difficult if you remember to think like your reader. What are people most likely to type into the search bar to find your story or product? Think like the customer and make that headline say exactly what your reader has to look forward to and your relevancy (very important in google-land) will soar and readers will be happy they’ve found your content.

If you need more help with blogs, posts, or other social media marketing questions, reach out to me on the Contact Us page. I’m happy to talk marketing with you any time!