The heading of your content, campaign or landing page is not only the showcase that will make users click or not to access your message, but also an essential element for your SEO positioning. Therefore, we indicate some keys to create headlines that help increasing incoming traffic and appearing among the first results of Google.
Step 1: Choose the main keyword and place it in the left of the headline
The first thing we have to do, before writing or optimizing the text, is to choose the main keyword of your content. Even if you are going to include different keywords, only one must always be the most important of each page of your site. Decide what your main keyword is in accordance with your SEO strategy and the list of words chosen in your keyword research.
Once you have it clear, think: would my buyer / reader persona find my content by using that keyword? If the user would, would she or he look it up in the same way that I am writing it? Shape your keyword to match the search term your target audience would use when searching for content like yours on Google. The main keyword should have a high presence in your text, with a density close to 1 – 3% with exact match, that is, written in the same way that you think it will be searched. This, as long as we include it naturally.
Within the headline, the main keyword must appear as the first element or, if not possible, as much to the left as possible. Google reads from top to bottom and from left to right. The keywords that appear before are considered by the search engines as more relevant or descriptive of your content.
Step 2: A single H1 heading
Make sure that the headline of your content is included with a H1 tag, which is the most important heading tag in terms of hierarchy. Only one H1 heading can exist per page. If you include more, all the keywords would be competing to be considered by Google as the main one, so the effect would be the opposite to what you are looking for.
Remember: your headline will be a H1 and the rest of headings such as subtitles will be organized in H2, H3, H4, H5 and H6, according to their hierarchy within the information architecture of your post (structure of the content). Take advantage of these other titles in order to include secondary keywords!
Step 3: Show the benefit or USP of consuming the content
When a user consumes a content, it is because it covers some specific need, usually linked to getting informed, learning or entertaining. Our headlines have to say, implicitly but clear and directly, what benefit the user will get if they consume the content.
Think of your content as if it were a product: no one would buy it and spend their money or time if it does not solve a problem or cover a specific need. Therefore, think, from the perspective of your buyer persona, what you solve with your content, what is the value proposition that it offers. Once you have it, try to define its unique selling proposition (USP) express it in your headline in a simple, clear and direct way. Bet only for one value.
How do we transmit the benefit in a headline?
- The headlines that start with: “How to…” (How to do X, how to get X) get a great CTR and a good SEO positioning because it is a formula widely used by users on Google as a search term.
- The reward or benefit must always be credible and realistic.
- Humor and drama work well in creative headlines, but their use should not detract from the intrinsic benefit that headlines promise by reading the article.
Step 4: Start with a number
Headlines that start with a number, giving users the feeling that the content is a list or listicle, considerably increase CTR or click through rate. This is because this format suggests to users that they will be able to consume content quickly, with the most important keys and going straight to the point. Remember that current users scan texts, do not completely read them, so the clearer and direct, the better.
What are the numbers that get the most clicks in headlines?
- Small numbers, up to 10 or, at best, 15: show the reader conciseness, ease of reading, speed and usefulness. On the other hand, if large numbers are used, it is shown that the content will provide a complete understanding of the topic being discussed, so they can address specific niche audiences. Either way, never abuse overly large numbers.
- Odd numbers work better than even since, psychologically talking, even express an excessive convenience when creating “the round number”. There are studies that show that headlines with odd numbers generate +20% CTR than those with even numbers.
- 7 is the number that generates the largest CTR.
Step 5: Use powerful words and measure the Emotional Marketing Value (EMV) of your headline
Adjectives that enhance the main keyword considerably increase the CTR of our headlines. Likewise, ‘powerful words’ are those we all love to read because they connect with our need or drivers through which we consume the content.
What adjectives to use?
Useful, valuable, strange, terrifying, wonderful … Use emotional adjectives!
What words are ‘powerful’?
Free, new, instantly, you, why, because…
How is the optimal word distribution to increase the CTR?
Our formula is simple and it is based on the results obtained in the Coschedule tool of Headline Analyzer:
- Determinants, prepositions and stop words: 20 – 30%. It promotes readability, but do not provide semantic content. Remove them from your URL!
- Uncommon words: 10 – 20%. They allow you to differentiate.
- Emotional words: 10 – 20%. Significantly increase CTR and virality. Make your audience share your content! Did you know that there is what is called Emotional Marketing Value (EMV)? It is a ratio that measures the emotion expressed by a headline through the use of intellectual words (which appeal to rationality), empathic (which appeal to positive reactions) and spiritual (which appeal to deep emotion). We give you this free tool to measure the EMV of your headline.
- Powerful words: At least 1 per headline. They are the bait. Here is a list of powerful words offered by Coschedule.
Step 6: Use negative superlatives and analyze sentiment
Numerous studies suggest that the use of negative superlatives increases the CTR of headlines up to 63% with regard to the use of positive superlatives. This means that a headline that says “The worst mistakes of…” can get up to 63% more clicks than “The best practices of…”. In fact, these studies indicate that using positive superlatives decreases -29% CTR in comparison to not using any superlatives.
Why does this happen?
- First, because positive superlatives express excessive exaggeration and subtract credibility, so they can be ignored.
- Second, because negatives connect with insecurities of the readers and express something surprising or unexpected: could they be doing something wrong that they did not know?
- Third, because negatives are usually perceived as and more authentic and sincere.
In spite of this, headlines that show a positive sentiment are the ones that get the most clicks. This means that, despite using negative superlatives, you must show a positive emotionality.
Step 7: Create tension to pique curiosity
Piquing curiosity is very important in order to achieve that the user considers the content consumption as essential. The best way to do it is to make user belive that what she/he is going to get, thanks to my content, can change everything he knows so far about the subject we are dealing with. Imagine a headline of the type: “Are social networks really generating sales opportunities?”. With it, we expressed that a statement considered completely accepted will be put in question and, therefore, users will discover something completely new.
How do we generate tension?
- Do not ask something that users could answer ‘no’.
- Do not answer the question in the headline (readers will not have reasons why reading).
- Shake their beliefs: ask questions that seem to go against user’s beliefs or knowledge.
Step 8: Punctuation marks that increase CTR
Before starting this section, remember: a headline never ends with period! Said that, let’s talk about those cases in which punctuation marks included in headlines will increase CTR up to 9%.
What punctuation marks produce a greater increase?
- Hyphen: “-“
- Colon: “:”
- Brackets “”
If those marks accompany the main keyword, the increase in the proportion of clicks is much more significant.
Step 9: The optimal extension of a headline and its pro-scanning wording
Statistically talking, headlines close to 55 characters are those that obtain a higher CTR. But it’s not about just counting characters, but the number of words you include is also important. Headlines with 6-7 words are those which get the most clicks.
Also, remember that most users do not read, scan. Write your headline so that the words that encourage clicks and complete reading (curiosity, benefit you bring, etc.) are found in the first and last three words of it.
Although including these keys in the writing process seems to be tricky at the beginning, they are used in a natural way little by little. Despite this, do not forget that the most important thing is to generate a valuable content and your headline is the showcase of it. Forget about tactics like clickbait! Monitor your audience and never forget that they are the most important factor.
Here we give a free tool to measure the performance of headlines.