As content creators, we spend hours writing, editing and re-editing our content before it goes live. We maintain extremely high standards for our work, making sure that the content we feature on our sites and social media profiles is high-quality, relevant and formatted perfectly for our audience.
Unfortunately, many of us mistakenly overlook the most important part of content creation: the title.
In today’s online world of shock-driven click-bait, it’s hard to walk the thin line between tacky and click-worthy content marketing titles. But, believe it or not, you don’t have to plaster a picture of a kitten on your posts or claim you have found the next “fat-fighting super-food” to earn an engaged audience. These five tips will set you on your way to creating powerful headlines that attract the traffic your content deserves.
Pose or Answer A Relevant Question
Your audience is constantly bombarded by content, and research has shown that some of the most effective titles pose an interesting and relevant question. These titles give just the right amount of information so the readers’ curiosity is piqued, but little enough that they feel they must click to resolve this curiosity.
You don’t always have to ask an outright question to get the benefits, either. Your title can also answer a valuable question. Here are 3 great examples of how you can use questions and answers to snag clicks:
- Is Your Landlord Trespassing? Learn Your Rights as a Renter
- Why You Should Ignore Some Time-Saving Tips
- SEO Teaching: Should SEO Be Taught At Universities?
Make Them Laugh and Make Them Cry
Emotion is an extremely powerful motivator. We know that pictures of adorable babies and goofy puppies attract clicks, but how can our words duplicate this effect, and how can we use emotion in our titles without compromising the integrity of our subject matter? If you apply emotion to your titles subtly, you can avoid seeming gimmicky while still capitalizing on your audiences’ core emotional needs and desires.
These titles, for instance, summon feelings of concern for our family, relief of our stress and a shot at understanding what we all want most: happiness.
- How to Keep Your Family Safe from Lead Poisoning
- This is What Nearly Half of Americans Are Stressed About
- How Happiness is Related to Internet Connectivity
Keep SEO in Mind
It doesn’t matter how amazing your content is or how powerful your title if your audience can’t easily find it through search. If you want to make sure that the most people possible see your content, you have to strategize your titles around the phrasing that will get the most qualified search volume.
Google Keyword Planner is the most popular tool for optimizing content titles, but there are plenty of other simple tools available out there. This guide, from BruceClay.com, is one of my favorite resources for learning how to use the keyword planner. It’s helpful in understanding how you can use Keyword Planner to brainstorm titles, find popular phrases and even perform valuable competitive analysis. While it may seem intimidating at first, once you start to see the benefits of optimizing your titles, you will wonder how you ever survived before discovering the Keyword Planner.
Incorporate Trending Current Events
Capitalizing on current events is one of the ways to attract viewers to your content. If an event is popular in the media, you automatically know that it will have high search volume. By including a trending current event in your title, you can capture some of this search volume for your content piece while also providing valuable input that establishes long-term credibility. These two small businesses tapped into search volume surrounding the Ebola Outbreak and Midterm Elections:
- Follow The Money: How An Ebola Outbreak Would Make A Lot Of People Filthy Rich
- Are Republicans Worse Drivers Than Democrats?
You obviously do not want to try to weigh in on current events that do not have a direct link to your business. But, if you get creative, you will be surprised at some of the interesting and unusual connections you can make to your product or service.
Use Those Cliché Click-Bait Tactics…Selectively!
Despite the obnoxious nature of curiosity-gap headlines, they are unarguably effective. No matter how steeled you are against them, you still click. While it’s hard to be taken seriously if you employ these tactics too often, sometimes a small dose of click-bait is just what your content headline needs.
You can use the principles of click-bait to optimize your headlines by using the most popular, attention-grabbing words, utilizing the power of numbers and making your titles an easy-to-read length. Using words like “science,” “awesome,” “amaze,” and “why” are proven to attract readers.
Numbered list posts, while also cliché, are an extremely effective way of informing your audience exactly what they will get when they click on your post, and also allow you to use the list format, which makes your content easy to digest. Shorter titles are often preferred by readers but play around with various lengths until you find your sweet spot.
Getting clicks is a high priority for any content creator, and to do this we need to be able to generate optimized headlines that bring readers to our site and improve the authority of our brand. These five tips will help you on your way to an amazing headline, but you should view your headline as a teaser, not the main attraction. Remember that quality content is still the main building block for an engaged audience.