How To Write Headlines for Blogs: 5 Key Tips To Boost Your Clickthrough Rate
by Michael O'Mara, on Nov 29, 2021 8:26:24 AM
Blogging is not as simple as it once was. Strategy, data, SEO optimization—there’s a lot of pieces of the blogging puzzle you need to be mindful of before writing a headline or drafting content. But we’ll get to that later in this blog.
You’re here to learn how to write headlines! Keep in mind, this isn’t a comprehensive guide, but these five key tips will give you a high-level overview and provide a clear explanation of the strategy behind creating winning blog headlines. No matter your writing level or industry, you will learn more about building better headlines just by reading this blog. Let’s get started!
1. Craft simple and clean headlines
Your headline needs to pass the grunt test. A grunt test consists of three questions:
1) What is the content about?
2) How does this content benefit me?
3) What do I need to do to get started?
To pass the grunt test, readers should be able to answer those questions within just a few seconds. When you’re clever but confusing, you lose the reader and potential business. That’s because you didn’t clearly communicate what your content is about and why it matters to your readers.
Key tip: try to write headlines that are lengthy! The closer a blog headline is to a sentence, the more inclined a reader is to understand the headline and retain interest. According to HubSpot, titles between 8 and 14 words receive the most likes and shares on social.
2. Numbers, numbers, and more numbers
And I don’t mean just a numbered list. Well, sometimes that helps clearly communicate and set expectations. Just like this blog! Numbers in headlines can communicate financial value, introduce structure, and set a frame of reference for the reader. I’m using numbers in the headline and in the blog itself solely to set the tone and structure the content. And so can you.
3. Frame headlines with keywords
Failure to incorporate keywords is a common mistake even the best bloggers can make. Or, if they do include them, many fail to properly frame the keywords within the headline. Where you place your keywords in headlines is crucial for optimal clickthrough and SEO best practices.
Your headline needs to be the first place you highlight your keyword or keyword phrase. If you don’t do this, you're already publishing with both hands tied behind your back.
Here are 5 solid tips for embedding keywords in your headlines:
- Place the keyword at or near the beginning of your headline. For example, this blog’s keyword phrase, how to write headlines for blogs, is smack dab in the front of the headline.
- Flip the last tip on its head: you can even use the keyword or keyword phrase at the end of your headline. Just make sure you aren’t breaking up your keyword phrase to fit in your desired headline. The keyword phrase is what matters most here.
- Don’t spam keywords. Use them meaningfully. This is all part of being clear and direct. If you fill your headlines with keywords, the headlines will become messy, confusing, and result in lost clicks.
- Not everyone is searching for the exact keyword phrase. But they might be looking for the subject. So, test keyword phrase variations! Try a few different headlines and measure meaningful changes in clickthrough rate.
- Include your keyword or keyword phrase throughout your blog. This keeps the reader focused on the primary idea. Just don’t force it.
4. Be active, not passive
When a headline is written in passive voice, the subject is being acted upon rather than doing the acting. So, be active and use an active voice in your headlines! Active headlines read better and cut down on added, distracting words. As we said before, don’t keyword stuff. Don’t stuff words, either. It's a quick path to confusing and losing your readers.
As a general rule of thumb, try to remove the words “can”, “will”, “that” or any past-tense phrases from your blog headlines. It’s not the silver bullet that overhauls your blog performance (that’s the next tip) but it does clearly communicate your blog topic. And with so many blogs and competitors out there, direct and clear wins the day.
Click here to learn more about the difference between active voice and passive voice and how you can improve your writing by understanding and applying the difference.
5. Don’t guess; conduct research
Headlines are not a guessing game. A good headline includes a primary keyword or subject. A great headline includes questions, statements, and your primary keyword. But you don’t just guess your keywords, either.
That’s where research comes in.
At Sauce, we use software and AI to aid our research to determine key blog topics in our industry. It’s all part of a broader strategic effort we refer to as the “Recipe for Success”. It’s a multi-step process where our production and strategy teams conduct extensive research to determine your company’s strengths, areas of improvement, and powerful organic keywords that generate clicks. These are the keywords that speak to your audience’s biggest pain points and questions. And since the due diligence is already done, you don’t need to worry about what to write about. Your content plan, and the data-backed strategy behind it, are ready to go. All that’s left to do is write.
Develop a dedicated strategy with a dedicated marketing agency
Now you’re equipped to get started writing better headlines for your blogs! Think of great headlines like a nice hat. They capture attention and usually serve as a great conversation starter. The strategy behind blogs, as well as the keywords behind them, are the outfit that brings everything together.
You need a strategy. Well, we have strategists here to work with you and build an effective game plan backed by data. No guesswork, no-nonsense. Just a team backed by years of experience using industry-leading best practices and software that asks the hard questions and uncovers the right solutions. No matter what, we’re here to guide you and help you Grow Smarter.