I heard a rumour that you write amazing content for your blog.
So, I was just reading your latest post, and frankly – it blew me away! Your clean writing style mixed with those amazing images really had me hooked from the minute I started reading…
Ok, I am lying. I never actually read your post!
Your headline put me to sleep when I saw it on Twitter, so I never clicked on the link.
So why do you spend so much of your time writing amazing content that people will never read? Forget that question. I know you don’t mean to do it. In fact neither do I. But it happens all the time.
We spend so much time writing, that when we get to the end of a post we are so excited, we forget to spend an extra 20 minutes coming up with a mind-blowing headline.
And the headline is what gets people’s attention after all, It’s what gets new, and maybe even existing readers to read our posts. Perhaps now you understand that headlines are important. If not, then the next quote from CopyBlogger will convince you:
On average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest.
So on average only 20% of the people read your posts after seeing the headline.
Now that I have your attention, you probably want to know how to create that mind-blowing headline? Well, you are in luck my friend. I have scoured the internet from top to bottom (yes it took a while, there are millions of pages) and found some great tips to help you out.
Twitter is a place that sees a lot of text flying around, so it’s a great place to find out what works in terms of blog headlines. After all, if a tweet gets someone’s attention it is probably a great headline!
One of the great tips I read while researching this post was from Buffer on the categories of words that get retweets on Twitter. From reviewing over 200,000 tweets it was found that action words (verbs) and adverbs get far more retweets than nouns and adjectives. To quote Buffer directly:
Use action words: more verbs, fewer nouns.
If you take a look at the Best Headlines section further down, you will see this effect in action (no pun intended). Some of the best types of blog headlines contain verbs.
When looking at what works best on Twitter the name Dan Zarella comes up a lot. He does extensive research on what works on Twitter and what does not. He has also done a pretty thorough analysis of the tops words used on Twitter. Again, this is quite useful because it helps us identify what gets people’s attention.
Although some of the words most commonly used on Twitter are pretty obvious, such as:
There are others that you might want to take note of and use in your headlines in the future:
Keep these in mind as we move on and look at some of the best blog headlines below.
Whether you are just starting out with blogging or even if you have a lot of experience, knowing how to write the best blog headlines can be tough. Thankfully a lot of headlines have been written in the past, and some very helpful people have analyzed them for us. The social media gurus at Social Media Today suggest that the following kinds of ideas and headlines get people clicking:
For the full list you can take a look at their post.
Then there are the wordsmiths at CopyBlogger. They have written a great article titled 10 Sure Fire Headline Formulas, which states that the following headlines types work like a charm:
Note: If you didn’t get it, you have to fill in the [blank] with your great idea and content.
Of course there are a lot more of these formulas and some even more awesome people like Jon Morrow have written a whole ebook on the subject called Headline Hacks. I recommend you head over to Jon’s blog and subscribe to get his great ebook. It is chock full of blog headline ideas and suggestions. In fact, enough to fill your blogging career.
Once you know the kinds of blog headlines that work, it becomes easier to choose from these formulas and write awesome headlines.
So now you have your free set of steak knives from Jon Morrow, it’s time to get to writing your blog headlines, right?
Well, don’t leave just yet, there’s one more amazing tip you need to read.
Once you have started to learn what works and what doesn’t, it is time to take it all to the next level.
“But Ashley, how do I do this?” I hear you asking me asking me. Well it is quite simple – by using some simple split testing on Twitter.
Unlike many other social media platforms, on Twitter you can tweet the same content again and again (sometimes without anyone even noticing – but that is our secret).
What that means in practice is that you can change your headlines and see what works best. I have been doing this over the last few months and found that it makes a huge difference to my Twitter click through rates.
Of course with Twitter alone, you have no real way of knowing how many clicks you got for a particular tweet. However, by using a tool like Buffer you can see the exact stats for each tweet. Buffer themselves have done exactly this kind of testing, and have found that the following rough plan works well:
There are a couple of great things you can do with the results of these tests to help improve your blogging and your social media performance.
Of course you can be creative and use this idea for much more, and I am more than happy to hear your ideas in the comments below.
The last thing you may want to do is actually test your headlines. There are certainly a lot of tools online and I wanted to give you a few that would help.
The first is one for creating the headlines themselves. It gives you a score based on testing and words that seem to get people’s attention It is from the great crew at CoSchedule and is called the CoSchedule Headline Analyzer. Give it a try and see what kinds of headlines you can come up with.
The second one is a new discovery (as of May 2016) and is a tool you can plug into your WordPress backend. It is a way of testing various headlines and letting the best one win (the one with the most reader engagement). It is really a play on the old A/B testing, but just for headlines. Now you can find out which variation you thought up is really the best! Check out the recent review we did on the Thrive Headline Optimzer.
With those two tools alone, you can come up with amazing headlines to get even more readers to your posts!
Creating great blog headlines can be challenging, but knowing what others have found to work can really help.
With some tips and guides from the pros along with a few tests on Twitter, you will be creating awesome headlines before you know it!
Header Photo credit: jasonEscapist via photopin cc
Billboard photo credit: arbyreed via photopin cc
Ashley is obsessed with SEO and WordPress. He is also the founder of Mad Lemmings. When he is not busy helping clients get higher on Google he can be found doing crazy sports in the Swiss Alps (or eating too much chocolate - a habit he is trying to break).