Reading online isn’t much different than in print. Some of us read every word on every line, but for the rest of us – we’re skimmers. If a headline captures our attention and piques our interest, we’ll make the decision to invest time and read the full article.
As it turns out, writing blog headlines is just as much a science as it is an art. Sure, you need to eloquently string a cohesive series of words together to tee up your article, but you also need to appease the search engine gods.
Here are four best practices for you to read (or skim) through before crafting your next headline.
Think about how people search the Internet
Put yourself in your persona’s shoes. If you have a problem, how would you search for an answer online? Craft your headlines to address these pain points and you may end up with an excellent headline that’s also a long-tail SEO keyword.
Incorporate keywords into headlines and style appropriately
Speaking of keywords, you should keep them in the first few words of your headline (see number four below). Also, if your blog post has subheads, you should make sure your keywords are styled within h tags, not just bolded with strong tags. Search engines may crawl headline tags, which could impact your search rankings.
You can’t use all the headline tricks at one time
Hubspot analyzed headlines and broke down its findings in this handy infographic – right down to which words increase (and decrease clickthrough rates). That said, not every headline can read, “Who Loves Amazing Photos of Baby Animals? [SLIDESHOW].” Play with different headlines over time and learn what works for your audience and your content goals.
Be brief to optimize headlines for search engines
In addition to the word choices in headlines, Hubspot also analyzed headline length and gave recommendations based on different situations – for example, headlines in search results are cut off after 65 characters (but headlines with 81-100 characters have the highest CTR).