Okay, okay, okay! We get it… you want our click! But, do you deserve it? If we didn’t have to actually deliver on what our headline promises, content marketing would be a doddle. Though, finding something on Google would be a nightmare – the black hat SEO brigade would be out in full force.
In reality, if your page doesn’t deliver the promise made in the headline (or SERPs for that matter), you’re not doing it right! You’ll also find yourself in the company of irrelevant results on page 3.
We all know about the importance of headlines but we’d be lying if we said it was easy. With content marketing becoming so intensely competitive, you need an edge. The demand for content isn’t growing, though the amount of content being produced is. So, we thought we’d share a little advice and guidance on this – while also attempting some hilarious headline themed banter in the process. Here’s how to write a headline and of course, how not to…
…in other words, the ultimate guide to the best tips for amazing stuff (obviously)!
Bad Headlines Can Make or Break Your Content
If you’re weighing up the pros and cons of taking your brand’s content strategy down the same route as clickbait YouTube conspiracy videos, we can offer some clarification… Don’t!
8 out of 10 people will read your headline, only 2 out of 10 will actually read the rest of your article.
Whether you use clickbait to lie to searchers or simply bore us to sleep with your unimaginative title, a headline can actually prevent people from clicking. Here’s some damage you could see as the result of poor headlines.
Lack of Traffic
If your headline is boring, too descriptive or not informative enough, it’ll damage your traffic. You need to give searchers a reason to actually click on your article. Even if you’ve got the best content on the internet, you need to entice clicks.
Let’s face it, unless you’re writing blogs for the likes of Buzzfeed or LadBible, you probably want your content to rank. This means you’re going to need to optimise your headline for a particular keyword or search term. If you don’t do this, you’ve got very little chance of ranking. More about this later…
Loss of Trust
If you use an unrelated or misleading clickbait headline, users will learn to distrust your content in future – it only takes one bad experience to ruin searcher trust.
Moreover, Google will notice your suspiciously high bounce rate. This will tell them your content isn’t delivering an answer to the search query. If you managed to rank, it won’t last long.
To the 1% who read a blog from start to finish (hello Mum), you’re probably wondering what’s happening. To the other 99% who skim through online articles, we’ve just caught your attention. Unfortunately, you’re going to be bitterly disappointed – there’s no free beer here!
It hurts, doesn’t it? That’s how your readers feel when they Google a search term, click on your article and don’t get the page they were hoping for.
Moreover, this illustrates another crucial point (we’re clever like that). Don’t just focus on your main headline. Your H2s and H3s are also important. People skim articles, top-notch headings will grab and keep their attention.
Headline Clichés to Avoid (You Won’t Believe Number 4)
A bad headline can make a great article seem underwhelming or even a little dodgy. Here are some clichés that could devalue your content.
‘The Ultimate Guide…’ or ‘The Definitive Guide…’
This has become a massively overused title. We’ve even used it ourselves a few times (but let’s pretend we didn’t tell you that).
You shouldn’t claim something to be an ‘ultimate guide’ unless it’s all-encompassing. For example, if you’re writing about social media image sizes (totally nailed that internal link), there’s a clear quantifiable amount of information to cover. If you know you’ve included everything, by all means call it an ‘ultimate guide’.
Having said that, even if you do include every piece of information on a topic, it might be worth trying something a little more original.
Best Tips for…
Are you actually offering us the best tips here or are you throwing the kitchen sink at this blog in an attempt to rank number 1? 10x content is great for ranking but don’t act like you’ve curated the best advice around when in reality you’re adding everything you can possibly find about a subject.
‘Amazing’, ‘Spectacular’, ‘Awesome’
Is it really though?
Adjectives like this are empty. You’re not communicating anything special. As a brand, you don’t get to choose whether something’s amazing or awesome – that’s up to your audience.
Above all, ‘amazing’ just isn’t amazing anymore.
Like with everything, adjectives aren’t all bad. If you reach deeper into your vocabulary for something original, adjectives can be an evocative and engaging addition to your title.
Keep reading on and you’ll find an amazing, spectacular and awesome section about adjectives!
The Holy Grail of bad headlines.
This really is a fine balance. We need to work with a bit of clickbait to actually entice readers. Having said this, using it excessively can be seriously off-putting.
All content creators should give Reddit’s /r/SavedYouAClick a look. Here users take enjoyment from spoiling clickbait headlines. This is a place you don’t want to see your article shared.
Here are a few examples:
- The one McDonald’s dish you should NEVER order according to ex-employees | Filet-O-Fish
- You will never guess which Netflix show is most binge-watched in Canada | Trailer Park Boys
- Reality check: Was Hilary Clinton photographed with Osama Bin-Laden? | No
- What happened when Luis Suarez asked Lionel Messi to take a free kick | He let him take it
- Has Wetherspoons really banned staff from wearing poppies? | No
- What would happen if you never stopped eating? | You would die
- Robin Williams’ final net worth will bring you to tears | $150 million
By all means make your headlines irresistible, but does the world really need another Buzzfeed?