How to write headlines that drive traffic

Your headline is the first and quite frankly, the most important, impression you make on a potential customer. Without a compelling headline, you may not be able to turn a casual browser into a customer; the rest of your words may as well not even exist.

Therefore, from a marketing standpoint, writing an attention-grabbing headline is a critical skill. Unfortunately, by getting crazy and coming up with really catchy, ultra-clever headlines we try to accomplish this.

However, most of the time, being clever really just means being unclear and if you’re not clear, people won’t waste their time trying to figure out what you are conveying.

A while back, I wrote an article about “Finding your business unique differentiator” that sets you apart from your competitors; this is a subject I hold dear to my heart. When I first decided to write an article about it, the first thing that popped in my head was “How to find your unique voice in a crowded world.”

I instantly fell in love with the mentioned headline and in all honesty it was my focal point of inspiration to write the article.

Against my better judgment and what I preach, I started my article with this headline; that was the very first sentence.

However, as I moved past the first couple of paragraphs, something was bugging me about the headline. Once I got to a stopping point, I decided to go back and revisit the headline and it was then that I realized in order for this article to intrigue people and reach as many as possible, I needed to come up with a better headline.

You might be asking, “What’s wrong with this headline?”

Here are the two fundamental issues with this approach:

  1. First and most importantly – if you care about driving organic traffic to your site through search engines, which any reasonable online business entrepreneur should care about, then there is only one question you should be asking yourself when you write your headline. That is, “If someone was looking to learn about this topic, would they actually search for this specific search phrase?”In the article mentioned above, if someone is looking to find information about their business or product differentiator, would they type the search phrase, “how to find your unique voice in a crowded world?”Chances are they would type a phrase that includes keywords such as “Differentiator” or “Unique Selling Point” – which are not even in that headline.So choosing a clever headline like the one previously mentioned would minimize, if not eliminate your chances of driving away organic traffic from that article.
  2. You might say, “Well, I like this type of headline because once my prospects are on my site I have a higher chance of grabbing their attention in reading my article.”That might be true but here is the reality, this could have been a good strategy a few years ago when we, the consumers, went on a hunt for good information and resources.That’s not the case anymore.Information comes to us in so many ways, we receive more information on a daily basis than we have time to actually read!

    If you click and read an article on a specific topic on Facebook you are bombarded with similar topics on a daily basis.

    You are bombarded with articles and resources as soon as you opt into someone’s email; the list goes on and on.

    These days, the chances of someone digging through your blog post categories page by page is very slim.

    In most cases, they land on a post from somewhere else. Maybe from your social site, maybe by someone else sharing it on their blog, search engine, etc.

    In most of these situation, the more specific and clear you are with your headline, the better the chances of getting someone to click on that headline and read your article.

The most effective headline is one that is clear and consistent with the topic you are writing about.

The best way to make sure you are accomplishing this is to write your headline after you’ve written your article.

Many people believe the headline should come after they have written their article.

The mistake most people make is that they think the first thing that has to be written is the headline.

That’s absolutely wrong! Your headline should be the very last thing you write. Start with the end result what you want to communicate and work backwards. Here’s the flow that I like to encourage you to use:

  • Write down the end result your customers are looking for in their own words.
  • Create a call to action button that’s aligned with this end result. If their end result is to lose 10 pounds, then the call to action; the text on that button is, “YES! I want to lose 10 pounds now!”
  • Write a narrative that logically leads to that call to action.
  • Now look back at the very last line of your copy, leading up to the call to action. Using their words, write a headline that describes the end result they expect to get when they click on that call to action button.

Here’s an example: let’s say you’re selling a detox plan; after doing your research, you’ve found out the end result people are looking for is not just to be healthy but to lose weight quickly — without exercising. So that’s your end result.

If we work our way backward to the headline, then it would look something like this: Lose 10 pounds in 4 weeks without exercising!

So there you have it!

Just remember, the type of products or services you may be offering does not have a significant effect unless  your headline suggests that you have something the prospects want. In having that, it will definitely benefit and thus, propels them to be interested in what you are offering. Also, ensure your headline says what it means! Simple as this may sound; your headline should be  very concise and easy to understand at first read. Remember, first impression can last a lifetime!

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