How to Write Better Headlines
They say first impressions are everything and a headline is that first impression. Whether you are coming up with a headline for a blog post or a subject line for an email here are a few tips to sharpen your skills.
Step 1. Become a student of great headlines
It may sound like a beginner’s move, but learning to recognize a great headline is vital to writing headlines that excel in search. How can we execute this simple step? Easy. Observe your own actions.
If you are logged into your Google account, you can view your web history at https://www.google.com/dashboard/. Review your results to see the headlines that you ultimately clicked on. Your readers are probably similar to you in what they would choose, too.
Step 2. Know your audience
After viewing your own search habits and gleaning insight about headlines that mattered to you, put yourself into your reader’s shoes. What matters to them? Who are they, and what are they searching for? It is amazing how often we can go on blogging without even taking time to consider who our audience really is.
Step 3. Use Google’s related search to define key search terms
One my favorite tools for writing great headlines that rock is search itself—use Google! If you put a little strategy into your writing, you can write SEO-packed headlines using Google’s own related search terms.
The process is simple: when you search for keywords related to your blog topic, Google will automatically suggest alternative terms and phrases that other visitors have used. It is important to remember that these terms are based on crowd-sourced knowledge gained from millions of searches per day. These are the most popular keywords surrounding your topic.
Step 4. Rewrite your headline at least three times
I can’t stress this step enough. Too often, we put a lot of our time and effort into the blog post, and forget about the headline. While the blog post will always matter and we do have to deliver in its content, the headline has to be great. Repeated iteration is key to great headline success. Write at least three alternative headlines for each post, for three reasons:
-We explore new territory: Admit it. You tend to write the same things over and over. We all do, but when we write more than one headline we force ourselves to work beyond the boundaries of our habits.
-Practice makes perfect: The more we write headlines, the better we become. More practice is always a good thing.
–We find new ideas: I can’t tell you how many “new posts” have come out of this simple habit. By writing three, you will regularly find a new spin on an old topic.
Step 5. A/B Test your headlines using Twitter or email marketing
Every time you publish or release an idea into the world, you are opening up to the opportunity to learn something new. Publishing new headlines should be no different. Improve your headline writing skills by putting them to the test.
Schedule a few tweets that link to the same post using alternative headlines. You could use several of your “extras” from step four of this blog post. The trick is to use a custom bit.ly link or other short URL service that allows you to track clicks. At the end of each day, calculate the clicks, retweets, and comments that you received with each headline. Which headline methods worked better than others?