Why do you write a blog or article or post information and links on social media? Presumably, one reason is to provide relevant and interesting information and updates to your audience. But let’s face it—tow other, perhaps more valid reasons, are that it gets your name out there in the form of shares, and improves your SEO. But the headline of these posts may be the most important few words in them!
A study recently completed by Buzzsumo analyzed one million headlines. The results revealed some surprising data on the most shared and popular phrases used in headlines. For example, the length of a headline on Facebook that received the most engagements was 12 – 15 words long! This is contrary to some experts’ beliefs that headlines should be kept short; ideally six words or less. The results of the study also show phrases that perform better than others.
No matter what the study reveals, the fact remains that the headline of your post or blog is critical to your online presence and engagement. It needs to immediately grab the reader’s attention so that they continue on to read your great content. Research has indicated that:
So how do you create a great headline? Here are some suggestions to get you started.
Using a list in your headings is more likely to get your post shared. Numbers in posts get more readers and shares by far. And digits work better than spelling the numbers out; e.g., 5 versus five. Studies prove that readers, especially on the Web, don’t read all the words. They scan the text for:
Certain numbers fare better than others: 10, 5, 15, 7 and 20 are the top five performers.
Linking phrases don’t start or end a headline, but they link them to each other. Again, in Buzzsumo’s study, they measured three-word phrases (trigrams) against each other for the most Facebook engagements (likes, shares, comments). The top trigram, with quite a margin, was “Will make you …”.
Phrases that elicit emotional responses are great ways to engage your readers. For example, “You’ll cry when…”; “Cuteness overload…”; or “You’ll crack up when you…” can help trigger emotional responses. But be cautious on over-exaggerating the emotions or sensationalizing them, as that could work against you.
Some phrases can reel in readers and encourage them to read on. Phrases like “Don’t miss out!” or “Find out what happened when…” will spark readers’ curiosity and hopefully get them to see what they may miss or what happened.
Yes, the content of your blog or post is very important, but if it never gets read, you’ve wasted your time! If you spend more time thinking about what you want your headline to convey to YOUR audience, it may be more beneficial in catching the reader’s eye enough to get them to read on.
Don’t make the mistake, however, of creating a great headline and your content has nothing to do with it. That will just turn readers off.