As a blogger, we strive to write the perfect post every time we sit down to type.
We can agonize for days just to get that one post ready to drive traffic to our site.
If you’re anything like me, you can spend hours generating blog post ideas, or days pouring over resources, making sure it’s relevant and useful for your readers.
As a freelance writer, I don’t only want to provide awesome and engaging content for my readers and clients, but I want to make sure that my content is being read, shared and talked about.
With so many parts to crafting the perfect content, new bloggers can fall victim to making the worst mistake in their blog post.
Writing a blog post is like baking a cake – when you miss an ingredient in your recipe, you risk the chance of your cake sitting alone at the table with no one wanting to take a slice.
Similarly, when you miss key elements in your blog post, it doesn’t matter if you produced the most share worthy content because if you lack the one thing that could skyrocket your blog, you might as well be writing to yourself.
So what is the worst thing you can do on a blog post that will wipe out any chances of your readers sharing your content?
Any one of these can be the worst thing:
- Not creating visually enticing images to connect with your message in your post
- Not structuring your blog post for an online reader
- Not tailoring your writing style to create maximum engagement
But these components pale in comparison to the worst thing you can do on a blog post.
No, the worst thing you can do on a blog will make up to 80% of people not want to read your post ever again.
And what’s even more nail-biting is that many bloggers don’t even know they’re making this monumental mistake.
So it all comes down to the worst mistake. You’re probably itching to find out what it is, right? What could possibly be so bad that 80% of people wouldn’t even read your blog?
It’s Not Crafting an Attention Getting, Eye-Catching, Interest Grabbing Headline
Ah, the headline, you say. Well of course it’s your headline.
If you don’t already know, coming up with a powerful and alluring headline is one of the best ways to get readers coming to your blog.
Headlines also help with your search engine optimization (SEO) when you include relevant keywords in your title. This will make it easier for people to find your blog posts, thereby increasing traffic to your site.
And the best thing about having a magnetic headline is that it greatly improves social shares. Just think about it – you have to compete with everyone else’s tweets so you better make your blog titles eye-catching.
Many writing websites have covered the art of making seductive headlines. Copyblogger has an entire ebook on How to Write Magnetic Headlines. So does Freelance Writing. And so does Jon Morrow of Boost Blog Traffic.
What’s important to note is that there are many websites that have information on writing blog titles, but why are there still bloggers and even freelance writers failing to write irresistible headlines?
I’ll tell you why:
- Because many believe if you’re not a copywriter, then you can’t possibly write headlines that hook your readers
- Because many don’t know how to write persuasive copy
- Because many treat their headline as an afterthought
- Because even the best bloggers and freelance writers still struggle coming up with alluring blog titles to draw high volume traffic
So let’s figure out how to make an interest grabbing headline that will propel your blog onto the high traffic Hwy that is the internet.
Write Your Headlines With This Key Element
The one thing I learned over the course of writing multiple blog post titles and reading hundreds of blog posts, is in order to get readers to my blog, I needed to pique their curiosity.
People are intrigued by how to make their lives better, easier and more efficient. People are also interested in learning about a particular niche, career, item or hobby.
When a you can tap into your readers’ desires, you can create headlines that will pique their curiosity.
And when readers learn something new, they want to know more about it and will seek information to fulfill their curiosity.
So how do we create curiosity in your headlines? Try these 4 proven ways to writing effective headlines.
1. Use Numbers in Your Blog Title
According to CoSchedule, out of 1 million blog posts they analyzed, list posts were by far the most shared on social media.
What’s interesting to note is that list posts only made up 5% of their sample. This means, not many bloggers or freelance writers are utilizing list posts to drive traffic and shares. So it seems readers enjoy lists and they can’t get enough of them.
So why do numbers increase readers’ click rate?
- List posts promise the reader something specific. People don’t like the unknown, so when you give them a concrete numbered list, they know when it will finish.
- List posts allow your readers to quickly scan the information. Most online readers don’t have time to read a lengthy blog post, so make it easier for them by tying in your list headline with numbered sub headings.
- List posts makes our brains oh so happy! There’s something about numbers that our brain’s are attracted to. Maybe it’s because we crave structure and organization and numbers help us achieve that. Or maybe it’s because numbers act like a red beacon amongst a sea of words.
I like using numbered lists in my headlines as it’s a great structure to follow and I find it creates more shares and engagement with my readers. Here are a few examples of my blog titles that uses numbers in the headlines:
And if you want to get even more readers coming to your blog post, use odd numbers. Studies have shown it helps readers hold their attention longer.
2. Use Negative Superlatives
Superlatives are great descriptors for your headline that can draw in more readers.
Positive superlatives like best, greatest, quickest etc.. can draw in readers, but using negative superlatives like avoid, worst, don’t etc… can bring in up to 63% more readers, according to Huffington Post.
Using this fear tactic plays on reader’s insecurities and almost signals an urgency to know the information. I don’t want that happening to me so I need to read this blog so I know what to do.
This blog post title, The Worst Thing You Can Do on a Blog… Hint: You Are Probably Doing It, uses a fear factor and a surprise element (did you know you’re probably doing this worst thing?)
Another negative headline I have on my blog is:
3. Make a Promise to Your Readers
When you have headlines with intriguing promises and deliver on those promises with your content, you’ll have happy readers gladly sharing your blog post.
Every headline should make a promise to your readers, meaning after they finish reading your post they will:
- Gain some new insight
- Be better equipped with this new knowledge
- Easily adopt your tips to their lives or professions
Just make sure that what you promise in your headline is explained in your blog post. This is something I do every time I write a headline for my blog posts.
4. Be Unpredictable
In the world of blogging, one of the ways to stand out is to be unpredictable in your headlines.
Even though studies have shown list headlines are popular and only make up a small fraction of all the blog headlines out there, you need to use more attention grabbing ideas and words if you want to get retweets and shares.
So don’t always follow the recipe to headlines that grabs people’s attention; instead, be creative with your titles and have fun with them!
With my headlines, I often write super long headlines. I know from reading print copy, short descriptive headlines are the most effective. But, I like writing long headlines because it’s something readers don’t always expect to see.
Ambiguous headlines, while not SEO friendly, are definitely more SMO (Social Media Optimization) friendly.
Just take a look at a few of Upworthy’s articles (Upworthy is a news site that generates viral posts):
When He Says, “I’m a Human Being,” I Tear Up, Too (over 1,000 social shares)
You May Find These Things Gross, But Wait ‘Til You See What They Can Do (over 2,000 social shares)
At First You Think They’re Just Playing Around. Then The End Happens (over 3,000 social shares)
So besides being ambiguous, what is Upworthy relying on to gain social shares and engagement? The curiosity factor and shock value.
I know when I read these headlines, I want to know what exactly are they talking about? This is a good way to add a little unpredictability in your headlines.
One More Thing to Add
You might think writing persuasive headlines is difficult and is something you feel you can’t do, but I’m here to tell you that you can write magnetic headlines in a cinch.
If you ever have a difficult time coming up with a winning headline, do what other copywriters, bloggers and freelance writers do – use a headline template.
There are many types of headline templates available and all you have to do is plug in what you want to say. A great template is Tweleveskip’s blog post title template.
Get Your Copywriter Hat on
I don’t consider myself a copywriter and neither should you, if you aren’t an actual copywriter. But what you can do is use copy writing strategies when writing your blog post.
Also, learn from the best copywriters and practice, practice, practice.
When it’s time to write your next blog post, put your copywriter hat on and think of these key questions:
- How can I tell my story so that people can relate to it?
- What powerful words can I use to convey my message?
- How can my readers benefit from my blog post?
So, are you ready to start creating the best headlines you can?
These headline tips, to me, are the most important or the most popular in terms of getting social engagement. When you pique a reader’s curiosity you are guaranteed that they will click to your blog post and, if you have great and awesome content, will read it and share it.
Now it’s your turn: What tips do you use to make your headlines pop and create a buzz?