02 Oct The 500% Difference—How to Write Magnetic Headlines
Blog post headlines are the king of the castle these days when it comes to what is actually read and shared online. They are what people see when scanning Google search results, and they set the tone for the blog post content. The whole purpose of the headline, or title, is to turn someone who’s browsing for content like yours into someone who’s actually reading your content.
On average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the blog post. You want to flip that ratio, because it’s the folks who read your content that are most likely to become new customers if you own a business or new patients if you’re in the medical field.
An article in Wired quoted Peter Koechley, co-founder of Upworthy, who said, “The headline is our one chance to reach people who have a million other things that they’re thinking about . . . The difference between a good headline and a bad headline can be just massive. It’s not a rounding error. When we test headlines we see 20% difference, 50% difference, 500% difference. A really excellent headline can make something go viral.”
So, how do you write great headlines?
Yes, your blog post title or headline needs to be catchy, but take caution. Readers are growing wary of tabloid-like click-bait titles that are written to generate traffic rather than for sharing accurate information. Your headline needs to be balanced—it should grab the attention of your target audience, but it also must be clear about what will be delivered in the blog post.
If you do a Google search for a subject you’re interested in and then look carefully at headlines, you’ll most likely begin to see a pattern. The reason headlines fall into patterns is because there are certain types of titles that consistently work better than others. If you know the basic formula, you can fill in the blanks and create compelling headlines over and over. Consider these three top-performing types of blog post headlines:
The How To
This tried-and-true category addresses a common need your target audience has to solve a problem. It’s a broad category that expands beyond starting with ‘How to …” by playing with different variations. Let’s use a common search term, “how to lose weight”, as an example.
How To Lose Weight
This may be clear but it’s not very compelling, and the competition for this headline would be stiff.
How To Be More Buff In 40 Days
Adding a desire with a time frame increases impact and narrows focus.
How To Lose Weight Without Playing the Juicing Game
Matching a desire (losing weight) with an objection (people who hate to juice) adds impact and attracts a more targeted audience.
How To Lose Weight And Still Enjoy Your Vacation
Coupling two desires in a how-to headline can be very powerful—think of Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People.
List or number based headlines are an efficient way to organize information that’s appealing and digestible for your audience. Titles that include lists typically work best when your readers are looking for a concise range of ideas or tips within a specific subject. They want to know what they’re going to get, and that they won’t be dragged down a rabbit-hole of endless—and often useless—information.
Using words like “best,” “top,” “key,” “easiest” or “quickest” along with a list or number lets readers know that you’ve done your research and are offering specific information that’s of value. And of course, like with the how-to examples above, you can play with inserting desires and objections. For example:
3 Best Ways To Lose Inches With Weight Watchers
This is the basic desire with a narrowed target audience—people interested in Weight Watchers.
7 Quickest Ways To Lose Inches Without Joining Weight Watchers
This combines a desire with an objection
4 Easiest Weight Watcher Recipes That Will Wow Your Dinner Guests
Pairing two desires is more powerful than each standing on their own.
While we often balk if someone tells us we should do something, we’re much more receptive to hearing about why—especially if we’re searching out that information on a topic we care about. “Why” headlines promise a point of view or an explanation.
The beauty of the “why” title is that readers who agree with the headline’s assertion will click to validate their ideas, and skeptical readers will click to see if there’s any value compared to their beliefs. As with the other types of headlines, use desires or goals and objections to speak to your target audience. “Why” headlines are also great to combine with how to or lists.
Why Sugar Is the Biggest Threat to Your Weight-loss Goals
The why is focused on the basic goal—weight loss.
Why Sugar Sabotages Your Weight Loss And How To Avoid It
The why combines the goal with how to information for more appeal.
Why Sugar Should Be Banned And 7 Easy Ways To Replace It
The why is a strong statement, followed by a list of how to implement it.
These are just some of the formulas that you can experiment with to produce headlines that inspire people to click and read the blog post you’ve worked so hard on. When choosing which type of headline to use, ask yourself, “What is the most important point I’m offering readers with this article?” Is it advice (how to), a set of tips (a list), or an opinion (why)? Then, use that single point to craft a handful of headlines based on one or a combination of how to, why, or a list.
As you experiment with different types of headlines, you’ll notice which ones attract more of your target audience, which is the goal. The point is that new readers are the base for your new customers or patients, and they’re out there looking for what you have to offer. Remember that headlines are the king of the castle when it comes to online content—make sure your headlines hand readers the key to come on in.
If you need a boost getting started on blog post titles, download our two free months of medical blog post titles here. Even if you’re not in the medical field, the examples are adaptable to any subject.
At Baker Labs, we believe in the power of content marketing and use a variety of digital strategies, including compelling titles and blog posts, to help businesses and medical practices grow by attracting new and loyal customers or patients. Contact us for a free marketing assessment of your medical practice, or for a free SEO audit of your website.