Your content marketing efforts won’t get far without engaging your readers. And finding the balance between getting the point across and intriguing your audience can be a challenge. While you’re ramping up your content creation, keep these tips in mind to ensure you’re creating headlines that capture your audience’s attention without sounding cheesy.
If you’re providing a list of steps or tips to your readers, adding numbers to your headline can really grab their attention. The benefit is that your readers see exactly what they’re getting themselves into from the get-go. People like to know where they’re ending up and how long it’s going to take to get there. Numbers give them this assurance when browsing search engines or scanning social media posts. And not only do numbers give them clarity, low numbers bring simplicity. When searchers see that they can do what they need to do in just a small amount of defined steps, it makes what they’re trying to do less daunting.
Using adjectives in your headlines is a great way to grab the attention of your audience. Words such as “simple,” “helpful,” “engaging,” “better,” or “quickly” give readers a reason to continue reading. If they feel that the information you’re giving them will empower them in some way and—at the same time—make their lives easier, they’re more likely to engage. These adjectives provide expectations. Your audience knows that when they click through to that piece of content, they’re going to receive the type of experience clearly displayed in the headline—making it easier for them to commit.
Similar to numbers, how-to statements set your reader’s expectations. When they see that little phrase at the beginning of a headline, they know they can expect step-by-step information that provides the solution to their problem. Combining a how-to with a number is a great tactic as well. By bringing the two techniques together, you’re able to set audience expectation by not only saying exactly what kind of content this is (a how-to), but also how much work they can expect to put in to what they’re trying to do. For example: How to Make Your Home Feel Like Home with These Four Items.
Negatives might seem like backward thinking, but they can actually be quite positive when it comes to headline structure. By making your audience feel that they will suffer by not taking in the content you’re providing, it gives them a sense of need. Phrases such as “Don’t Be The Only One Doing This Wrong” or “Stop Making These Seven Mistakes Right Now” give the reader a sense of urgency. No one wants to be the one who messes up; and adding a negative to your headline singles them out and gets them engaged with the content on an emotional level by alerting them to something they didn’t know they were doing wrong.
Like negatives, positives can be used to grab the attention of a user who stumbles upon your content. With positives, however, you’re striking a different chord. Positive words, such as “best,” “greatest,” or “most,” give your audience something to look forward to. By taking in this piece of content, they’re going to learn something really great that will improve their life in one way or another.
Adding actionable words to your headlines such as “try,” “discover,” or “visit” tells the user what to do. Usually when someone is searching the internet, they are looking to solve some sort of challenge or fill a need. By providing words of action, you give them something to look forward to. They know from the headline that by engaging with the piece of content, they’re likely to come out of it with more knowledge than they had before. These action words tell them what to do with the piece of content. It’s not just there to be there; it’s there for a purpose—to give them insight.
Bringing It All Together
As you’ve probably already noticed, there are many different combinations of these tips to create the best headlines for your business. Experiment with mixing things up by trying different orders and testing to see which ones perform the best to give you an idea of how to shape your strategy.
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