Hook ‘Em With Your Headline
The headline is your first and best chance to grab a prospective readers’ attention. Some people even suggest spending more time coming up with your headline than you do on the rest of your post! We’re not going to go quite that far, but this does underline the importance of having a good headline for your post. Below, we’ve put together some tips to keep in mind when crafting your headlines. Some are more specific than others, and obviously, you won’t be able to use each one in every headline you write, but all of them can probably be useful at some point.
- Brainstorm - Try to come up with a number of different possible headlines for your post to start. We suggest coming up with at least 3-5 possibilities before picking the best one.
- Start with a rough draft - While finalizing the headline is often the last thing bloggers do before they publish their post, starting with a rough draft of a headline before you start writing can help guide the rest of your post. Then, once it’s written, you can work on perfecting the headline.
- Be clear - You don’t want to give away the entirety of your post in the headline, but it is still important to give readers a clear idea of what your post is about.
- Use numbers - Using digits in your headline is a proven way to grab attention.
- Know your audience - Tailoring your headline to your audience’s interests and lingo can help get their attention.
- Write in the second person - Depending on the content of your blog, this may not make sense to do. But, if it can work with your topic, using “you” in a headline can get people’s attention.
- Be controversial - First, to be clear, controversial doesn’t mean offensive in this instance. We’re talking about thinking about popular opinion, product, movie, or anything else and then offering a perspective on it that goes against the grain. People often love to read things that they don’t necessarily agree with. This can also be a great way to get your audience to engage with you. Just be aware that not all comments will be the friendliest!
- Use keywords - Strategically placing internet search keywords in your headline can help drive traffic to your blog.
- Keep them short - If a headline is too long, some people won’t even bother reading it. Try to keep them under 70 characters long. If you need more space, you can use subtitles to clarify and expand your title.
- Be helpful - Many people are interested in learning how to do something or learning about the best [insert something relevant to your topic] out there. Let them know in the headline that you are going to teach them.
- Compare X and Y - Which one is better? Which one is faster? Which one is the better deal? Whatever it is, people love to read posts comparing two things.
- Deliver what you promise - Your headline should never be misleading. If people get to the end of your post and feel like it didn’t live up to the headline, they are less likely to read more of your posts in the future.
The First Few Sentences
Ok, so you’ve crafted a great headline and hooked a reader. That’s great! But your work isn’t done yet. Most people have amazingly short attention spans, so even if your headline got them to start reading, if the first few sentences don’t keep their attention, they are likely to move on to the next blog without finishing yours. Here are a few options to help keep them reading down the page:
- Be direct - If you don’t get to the point quickly, you risk losing your readers.
- Ask a question - Asking a question directly to your readers is a good way to hook them into reading the rest of your post.
- Be funny - Opening with a funny or quirky line can be a good way to start a blog post...as long as it is actually funny. Don’t force it!
- Make it personal - An interesting personal anecdote related to the topic can often be a good way to start.
- Use statistics - A short factoid or statistic can be a good attention-getter.
- Promise them something - Telling a reader “if you read this blog, by the end X will happen” is a good way to get them to finish it. Just make sure you deliver on that promise.
Break Up Your Text
Now that we’ve gone over the headline and opening sentences, it is time to focus on the body of the post. Formatting your text is important. Even if your content is great, readers are likely to be turned off if it is just in one big block. You can break up your text in several different ways.
- Subheadings - Subheading is a good way to break up text into sections when you will be writing a few sentences or more. Be liberal with H2s and H3s.
- Bullet points - Bullet points, like the ones being used here, are great for lists.
- Images - Even if you are writing with standard paragraphs, you can break them up with images.
- Pull quotes - Pull quotes serve a dual purpose of breaking up text visually and highlighting some of the more interesting lines of your post.
Basic SEO Optimization
Trying to reverse engineer a blog post around search keywords is probably not going to result in a very good, or popular, blog. However, it can still be useful to keep popular search trends in mind and fit in keywords where they are appropriate.
In addition to utilizing keywords, you should make sure to spend some time creating proper meta titles and descriptions as well as linking to other relevant blog posts you’ve written and external content.
Add a Call to Action
Now that you’ve gotten people to read your blog post, you want to get them to help spread the word. Asking them to do something specific, whether it is to share your post on social media, leave a comment on the post, sign up for a newsletter, or something else, a clear call to action is a good way to get more traffic to your blog. Just remember not to be pushy or overdo it.
Driving traffic to your blog is easier said than done. There are a lot of variables that can have an impact. And like we said earlier, quality content is key, but you have to present that content in a way that grabs and holds readers’ attention. We hope the tips listed above help you do just that!