5 tips for writing compelling headlines to drive your SEO

April 14, 2015 - 4  min reading time - by Emma Labrador
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Powerful headlines matter as much as your article content and even more! As copyblogger says “eight out of 10 people will read your headline copy, but only two out of 10 will read the rest.” As the first catching sentence of your article, be sure to choose the right words and structure if you want your audience to read your post.

Web writing is meant to be read and shared. And compelling headlines respecting some basic rules have a higher chance to be shared and to increase your social signal value.
This value refers to any link from a user’s social media account to your blog or a share, like or comment. As a matter of fact, Google seems to reward content with a high social signal.
As we already said in our SEO trends article – content is one of the main keys to rule in SEO.

Thus, you need to think in terms of search engine features and people queries. Because you are first talking to real people but also to the ranking criterias.

In this article, you will find several tricks to get catchy and appealing headlines.

1. Use numbers

Numbers have the advantage to organize your article. The visitor knows he will get an easy read point by point. It has the benefit to create a list, and list are very popular.
At the same time, prefer digit numbers instead of writing them, it will be easier to read. Also, avoid to present more than 9 points in your article, researches have shown that a reader get trouble digest more than 9 ideas at a time.

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Finally, if you are choosing the list option, be original in your naming like:

  • Reasons
  • Principles
  • Facts
  • Tips
  • Advices
  • Lessons
  • Ideas
  • Ways
  • Secrets
  • Tricks

Example : 5 tools you should use to master Twitter.

2. Use formulas that have proven their efficiency

Some formulas have proven their efficiency over the time and offers a better ROI. Here are some of the best ones. Be careful to not always use the same schema, you could annoyed your readers and totally missed your effect.

  • The secret to …

This one works a lot since it gives to the reader the feeling that he is going to get the privileged to learn something important.
Example: The secret to getting more followers.

  • How to [specific task] that [rewarding benefit]

The “How to” recipe offers a guidelines step by step and is a useful tool to learn something new more easily. Adding the benefice at the end enhance your headline perception.
Example: How to write an article that appeal readers.

  • How to [desired result] without [painful objection]

This one works as the previous one but highlights the contradiction between getting the result you desire even if there is an obstacle in front of you.
Example: How to perform on SEO without any technical knowledge?

  • [Do something] like [world-class example] example:

Comparing something to someone well-known good results will bring credibility to your article. You suggest to the reader that he can be as good as this successful person.
Example: Get social engagement like Matt Cutts.

  • What you need to know about

This headline is really engaging since it pushes the reader to click on the headline to find out what he has missed about a specific subject.
Example: What you need to know about the “mobile-friendly” Google update.

3. Use keywords to please your SEO

Keywords are essential to optimize your search engine performances. Include them in the headline as well as in your body content. For a more efficient search, your keywords should be at the beginning of your headline.

4. Think of Twitter

Your content is meant to be shared. So you need to optimize your title lengh to fit the Twitter 140 characters. But it will be better if you write only 69 characters. First it is easier for your post retweet because it lets enough space for a link, a mention, a picture or hashtags and shorter headlines are more shared!
Then, search engine display 69 characters before cutting it in the search results, so keep that in mind!

5. Use appealing adjectives

Using compelling adjectives will bring you more engagement. Prefer positive or powerful ones since it will catch your audience attention in a good way and increase your click-through rate.
Here are some of the best adjectives to use:

  • Surprising
  • Awesome
  • Effortless
  • Free
  • Proven
  • Powerful
  • Smart
  • Essential
  • Appealing
  • Critical
  • Huge/big
  • Searing

To sum up, you really need to concentrate your effort on your headline.
You should write it at the end after you have finished your post or go back to it. You may find that your first headline doesn’t fit anymore to the angle you have given to your article first. So don’t be afraid to tweak it, you will have the necessary hindsight to make the right changes.

Emma Labrador See all their articles
Emma was the Head of Communication & Marketing at Oncrawl for over seven years. She contributed articles about SEO and search engine updates.
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