Wondering what makes a good headline? Most content writers do too. Now that the SERP is becoming less visually oriented, it’s time to think about what seems important to readers. Fortunately, Search Engine Watch and Conductor teamed up to survey web users about what sorts of article titles resonate with them the most.
The top answer is something the editors of BuzzFeed learned a long time ago: People like lists, or any kind of content that can be broken into discrete units. Headlines like “Five ways to determine if you qualify for a reverse mortgage” or “The top seven IT upgrades your office should make this year” are irresistibly clickable, and users can highlight the individual portions that resonated with them if the whole thing doesn’t.
2. Addressing the reader
It turns out people actually like seeing content tailored to their needs. Readers don’t simply want the word “you” in any headline they see. The main idea of a headline should make actually using “you” pertinent. So brands should consider headlines like “The essential infant care product you’ve never heard of,” when they’re targeting new parents.
3. How-to guides
As Brafton reported, how-to searches have been exponentially rising in the past few years, apparently because users trust that Google can give them the in-depth responses they’re looking for. However, it’s important not to simply preface headlines with “how to.” Content should be actionable and actually explain the process it claims to possess – and do it in a new or better way than existing publications. So “How to understand tort reform” might not be a relevant result for frequent searches, but “How to file a medical malpractice suit” will probably yield many more relevant hits.
Slapping a good headline on bad content won’t help you reach your business goals, but a bad headline can absolutely harm relevant, well-written articles. So while it’s a good idea to engineer titles as thoroughly as possible, the headlines shouldn’t be the primary area of focus for content marketing. Instead, focus on finding the best way to position the excellent blog posts and marketing videos you’ve already produced to flatter good content.