“Why did you click this headline?”
At first glance, the answer to the above question seems like it falls firmly into the “duh” category of answers. You wanted to learn a little more about the art of developing eye-catching headlines, so you gave the link a click; pretty simple stuff. However, if you’re willing to look beyond the obvious motivations for your actions, you’ll see that truly great headlines go a step farther and put to use some insightful and creative methods for capturing the attention of the audience. For those of you out there that are trying to elevate your headlines – or work with content writers who know a thing or two about succeeding on this front – here’s a look into everything it takes to build and implement clickable headlines.
What Makes a Clickable Headline?
When it comes to clickable headlines, Jeff Bercovici of Forbes magazine provides a few attributes that help explain why these offerings capture traffic that boring or otherwise bland headlines would let slip through the cracks. First off, strong headlines either evoke emotion, seek to answer a question, or entice the reader into further reading by leaving out information in the headline – this last feature is known as a “curiosity gap.”
Additionally, Bercovici suggests that some of the strongest headlines don’t even bother trying to connect with the members of the targeted audience. Instead, these headlines generate clicks by focusing on the friends of these viewers and going viral via social media. This concept might seem a little confusing at first, but think of it this way: how often do you check out an article or blog post because your friends shared it on Facebook or Twitter? From that perspective, it’s easier to see why some of the best clickable headlines embody a bit of an indirect approach.
The Keys to Winning on This Front
So now that you understand why digital passersby take a moment to check out a piece of content based on the headline alone, it’s time to talk about what actually goes into creating clickable headlines. For this endeavor, there’s no better authority to turn to than the late John Caples.
As one of the most prolific content writers of the 20th century, Caples helmed countless successful content and advertising campaigns that succeeded with a wide variety of audiences primarily on the shoulders of strong headline writing. As online marketing expert Lars Lofgren points out, Caples utilized a simple, yet straightforward approach to this practice.
If you want to keep up with the precedent set by Caples, using targeted keywords in the headline is never a bad idea. As the workhorse of a good headline, a strong keyword not only helps capture the attention of the reader and search engine crawlers alike, it also helps guide your content generation if you’re unsure of which direction to take your post.
From here, focusing on offering benefits to the viewer helps streamline a headline. Whether you’re using a user testimonial, challenging the reader with some unknown or controversial fact or figure, or simply pointing out why the reader needs to continue reading, there’s few ways to go wrong when value serves as the centerpiece of the creation process.
The last thing to keep an eye on when creating a powerful headline comes in the form of keeping things short and sweet. Hubspot’s Ginny Soskey suggests that the perfect length of a headline is six words, as this number offers just the right amount of room for the utilization of some of the aforementioned tactics, all without boring or losing the person on the other side of the screen. (Can you guess how many words are in the headline for this article?)
As you can see, crafting a clickable headline isn’t the easiest thing to pull off in the world of content marketing. However, if you’re able to put these tips and tricks to good use, or work with something that’s willing to put in the time and effort necessary, there’s nothing out there that can hold your brand back from joining the ranks of others who understand just what it takes to reel in views via a great headline.