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12 Headline Writing Tips To Drive Traffic & Clicks

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12 Headline Writing Tips To Drive Traffic & Clicks


Picture this: You’ve spent hours researching and writing a phenomenal article.

Obviously, you want people to read the article since you worked so hard to create it.

But here’s the sad truth: on average, 6 out of 10 people only look at the headlines before sharing an article.  And only 49% claimed to read the articles.

What is a content creator to do?

There’s a clear connection between the value and interest of an article’s headline and whether people are intrigued enough to click on it.

Writing a strong headline isn’t an exact science, but plenty of data has been compiled and studied over the years to provide some clues as to what makes a strong headline great.

Here are some headline-writing tips to win those readers over and earn more clicks.

12 Tips To Write Click-Worthy Headlines

Your headline serves the essential role of making a first impression on a potential reader.

We all know how important first impressions are.

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Being average isn’t better than being bad. Your headline is either exceptional, or it’s forgettable. There isn’t much gray area.

The following tips and methods below will help you turn a poor or average headline into one that earns clicks and pulls in readers.

1. Look At Google Search Results

Once you’ve researched the keyword(s) you’re planning to target, analyze the search engine results page (SERP) to see the articles you’re competing against.

How can your content stand out?

What is the user intent?

Are the top results listicles? How-to articles? Commercial content?

If you’re going to rank on Page 1, you need to have a comprehensive understanding of what kind of content is already there if you’re going to be a serious competitor.

2. Make An Emotional Connection

Emotional headlines dependably perform better than neutral ones.

Using power words to evoke emotions in your reader enhances their first impression of your content while building curiosity, dread, or anticipation to read more.

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The best emotional headlines target:

  •       Happiness.
  •       Love.
  •       Fear.
  •       Anger.
  •       Disgust.
  •       Affirmation.
  •       Hope.

However, exercise caution when using emotional headlines. You don’t want to fall into the clickbait trap of not delivering what you promised readers.

3. Use Names

For this headline trick to be successful, the names need to be well-known to your target audience.

Brand names can be just as powerful as people.

For example, when targeting SEO topics, using “Google” in your headline will bring in clicks, as will using “John Mueller.”

These are widely recognized brands and figures within the industry.

The names you choose to feature in your headline should be tailored to your specific brand niche.

4. Use Numbers

Numbers are natural eye-catchers.

In an endless sea of words, numbers snag our attention and make us pause. We remember numbers because they help our brain organize information.

Use the power of listicles and numbers to beat your SERP competitors.

 Screenshot taken by author on July, 2021

5. Make The Benefits To Your Reader Clear

When a reader is deciding whether or not to click on an article, the question they’re asking themselves is, “What do I get out of this?”

Your headline should indicate the value a reader can expect from clicking through and reading it.

High-performing content serves one or more of these purposes:

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  •       Entertain.
  •       Engage.
  •       Empower.
  •       Enrich.
  •       Educate.
  •       Inform.
  •       Inspire.
  •       Answer a question.
  •       Provide a solution.

When a reader decides to click on your article and invest their time and attention, they’ve already set expectations based on the benefit your headline promised.

Make your reader benefit clear, but don’t overpromise.

12 Headline Writing Tips to Drive Traffic & Clicks 2Screenshot taken by author on July, 2021

6. Optimize For Humans And Search

Your first priority is optimizing so your human audience will find your content and want to click on it.

Your second priority is optimizing for search engines, especially Google.

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The good news is, humans and search engines can generally agree on what they like to read, including content that is:

  •       Accurate.
  •       Comprehensive.
  •       Credible.
  •       Engaging.
  •       High-Quality.
  •       Informative.
  •       Specific.
  •       Unique.
  •       Useful.
  •       Valuable.

Be sure to include your primary keyword in the title to optimize it for Google and help people find your content when searching for the topic.

If you’re in need of inspiration, check out free title generator tools to help you write a better headline.

Keep in mind, though, that these tools don’t know your audience as well as you do, and just because a headline was generated automatically doesn’t mean it’s the most advanced for SEO.

These free tools are best used for idea generation and analysis, not a replacement for a human-created headline.

If you’re using WordPress, tools such as AIOSEO and Yoast are great SEO-based plugins that will give you a built-in analysis of your headline SEO rating (as well as the post as a whole).

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They’ll also give you suggestions to help you improve your rating, as you can see with AIOSEO below:

12 Headline Writing Tips to Drive Traffic & Clicks writingScreenshot taken by author on July, 2021

7. Write Multiple Headlines

Chances are, the first headline you come up with isn’t going to be gold.

And that’s okay! In fact, it’s normal.

Some people advise writing 10 or more headlines per content piece and then selecting the best option.

Write a variety of headlines targeting different formulas. Don’t just swap the word order.

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Try targeting different emotions, points of view, and styles, such as:

  •       Humorous.
  •       Upbeat.
  •       Unexpected.
  •       Witty wordplay.
  •       Numerical.
  •       Question.
  •       Thought-provoking.
  •       First-person (I).
  •       Second-person (you/yours).
  •       Third-person (he/she/they/them).

Use headline analysis tools to keep track of SEO ratings for each option when you’re making your decision.

8. Test Your Headlines

Click data doesn’t lie, but your brain does!

Don’t be too mad at your brain – we’re all biased. Our brains convince us that we’re clever and creative, and of course, all of our headlines are genius.

But plenty of imaginative headlines never get a single click.

Despite what your brain thinks, the people bypassing your article aren’t to blame. It’s the headline.

Eliminate the bias by relying on quantitative data instead of your opinions and feelings.

9. Experiment With Headlines, Too

There’s an art to writing click-worthy headlines, and it does take some practice to make the task feel natural.

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If you’ve followed every rule and still aren’t finding success, don’t be afraid to throw the rulebook out the window and go with your gut.

What kinds of headlines interest you? Go from there.

10. Follow Formulas

Even though there’s an art to crafting headlines, it’s important to keep in mind that your headline isn’t a whimsical creative writing assignment – it’s a science.

No, really.

Headline-writing formulas exist because they work. They’ve been tested over and over again to measure click-through rates.

Understandingly, this begs the question, “If everyone is using the same formulas, how can I make my headlines stand out from the crowd?”

The best advice is to create your own formulas by tweaking others and then testing your click-through rate (CTR) to find the ones that work best for you and your brand.

11. Should You Be Careful with Question Headlines?

Yes.

Question headlines can be an effective tool to spark reader curiosity, but they come with a warning label:

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  •       Don’t ask a question that has an obvious answer. Nobody is going to read your content.
  •       Make sure you actually answer the question in the article. Don’t cop out and waste the reader’s time!
  •       Your answer should be better than other existing content that poses the same question.
  •       Be cautious about withholding information. Your content will come across as clickbait if you do.
  •       If the answer to your question is yes or no, don’t ask the question in the headline.

In most cases, you can write a more compelling headline that isn’t formatted into a question.

12. Be Positive

There’s enough negativity in the world without adding more gasoline to the fire.

Your primary goal should be to help your target audience, whether you’re providing useful information, solving a problem, answering a question, or entertaining your readers.

With that said, some brands want to be associated with negativity. Sparking controversy and getting people riled up does create a strong emotional response, albeit not a positive one.

It all depends on your brand image and the message you want to convey to your audience.

Write Compelling Headlines That Win Readers

If you’re going to break that 6 out of ten reading statistic, your headlines need to raise the stakes.

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That’s going to require a lot of trial and error.

Even if you follow every piece of advice in this article, that isn’t a surefire formula for success every single time.

Pay attention to your audience within your specific niche. What are they clicking on? Which headlines are piquing their interest? Which ones aren’t?

Just like every other type of content marketing strategy, follow-up data and analysis are critical to understanding how to best target your specific audience.


Image Credits

Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal
All screenshots taken by author





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Does Google Crawl URLs In Structured Data?

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Does Google Crawl URLs In Structured Data?


Google’s John Mueller answered whether Google would use links in structured data for crawling. Getting links discovered, crawled, and then indexed is vital to SEO, so any available advantage for getting more pages crawled would be helpful.

What Does Google Use Links For In Structured Data?

The person asking the question wants to know if Google uses links discovered in structured data for crawling.

They also want to know if Google doesn’t use the links for crawling if they’re just stored.

Here is the question:

“Does Google crawl URLs located in structured data markup or does Google just store the data?”

Google Tries Crawling Many Kinds Of URLs

Mueller’s answer might seem a little surprising because, among other things, he mentions that Google might try to crawl a link that’s in a text file.

Another point of interest is that he says Google will crawl anything that “looks” like a link, followed up with examples of what “looks like a link” means.

Mueller’s answer:

“So for the most part, when we look at HTML pages, if we see something that looks like a link, we might go off and kind of like try that URL out as well.

That’s something where if we find a URL in JavaScript, we can try to pick that up and try to use it.

If we find a link in kind of a text file on a site, we can try to crawl that and use it.”

Mueller’s answer is a pretty good overview of what Google might do with alternative links, links that are not traditional HTML hyperlinks with anchor text.

What followed is Mueller’s reminder that all of these alternative forms of links should not be viewed as substitutes for actual HTML hyperlinks, what Mueller calls a “normal link.”

Mueller strongly recommends using a standard HTML hyperlink if you want something that performs like a link.

He continued his answer:

“But it’s not really a normal link.

So it’s something where I would recommend if you want Google to go off and crawl that URL, make sure that there’s a natural HTML link to that URL, with a clear anchor text as well, that you give some information about the destination page.

If you don’t want Google to crawl that specific URL, then maybe block it with robots.txt or on that page use a rel=canonical pointing to your preferred version, anything like that.

So those are kind of the directions I would go there.

I would not blindly assume that just because it’s in structured data it will not be found.

Nor would I blindly assume that just because it’s in structured data it will be found.

It might be found.

It might not be found.

I would instead focus on what you want to have happen there.

If you want to have it seen as a link, then make it a link.

If you don’t want to have it crawled or indexed, then block crawling or indexing.

That’s all totally up to you.”

Alternative Links

SEOs have created many alternative forms of links, some of which (like “link mentions”) have no basis in reality and are pure conjecture and opinion.

Many years ago, SEOs began practicing something called Google Stacking, which included adding links to Google Sheets and then pointing links to that Google sheet believing that the practice would help rankings.

The idea was similar to Web 2.0 link building, where some SEOs had the mistaken notion that so-called “authority” from a Google-affiliated site would trickle over through the links on Google Sheets and Google Sites.

Adding this to Mueller’s answer about links in structured data, Mueller confirmed that Google might crawl links in structured data, JavaScript and text files. But he also said that regarding structured data, Google might not crawl those links.

Mueller affirms that it’s best to use actual links if you want the power of links.


Citation

Watch John Mueller answer the question at the 23:20 minute mark.

Featured Image: YouTube.com/GoogleSearchCentral, June 2022. 





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The Four Day Work Week

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The Four Day Work Week


Thinking about implementing a four-day work week? It’s easier than you think.

In this episode, Joe O’Connor of 4DayWeek.com joined me to discuss implementing a four-day week and why CEOs and HR managers should consider trying it. We also discussed the global momentum around the shift in thinking amongst companies.

Offering flexible working or remote working used to be a competitive advantage. It’s not anymore. It’s now a standard expectation.–Joe O’Connor, 13:53

And part of the beauty around this is the quid pro quo. You know, it is the idea that this is for many leaders that have done this. They’ve described it as the cheapest, most efficient process improvement strategy we have ever deployed.–Joe O’Connor, 34:44

We’re going to be trying the four-day work week, and we’re going to be sharing how it’s worked for us. Just like we’ve been sharing things like being a digital-first company that has always been a virtual workplace.–Loren Baker, 40:32

[00:00] – A little about Joe and the four-day workweek.
[04:01] – Is a 3-day weekend a great incentivizing force?
[06:15] – Does it level the playing ground with gender equality?
[13:10] – Why is the four-day work week suddenly taking off?
[17:00] – How does it differ amongst countries?
[21:35] – Recommended tools for outdated ways of working.
[25:21] – How do you make the most of someone’s natural productivity.
[26:40] – Misconceptions about shutting down the company on a Friday or a Monday.
[31:53] – Learn from a study from a company that moved to a four-day work week.

People said their output, expectations, and responsibilities are the same as before we took reduced work time. And they’re the same as our five-day colleagues. So what does that tell us? It tells us two things. First, we’ve got a gender equality problem in the workplace. Secondly, Parkinson’s Law is the idea that the length of time that you’ve got available to complete a task that a task will expand to fill the time available for its completion. And that’s something that drives the philosophy behind the four-day workweek movement.–Joe O’Connor, 05:20

It seemed like the first one, and last one out was that indicator of who was working the hardest, and not necessarily the indicator of who was working the smartest.–Loren Baker, 15:15

People’s priorities have changed. For many people, the pandemic has forced them to realign how they value different things within their lives and what they think constitutes a reasonable life-work balance.–Joe O’Connor, 20:12

Resources mentioned:
https://www.4dayweek.com/

For more content like this, subscribe to our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/searchenginejournal

Connect with Joe O’Connor:

Joe O’Connor is a driven and dynamic campaigner with extensive leadership experience in campaign work and organizational transitions. His passion lies with social justice issues that pertain to economic empowerment for all people globally – he’s 4 Day Week Global CEO!

Right now, Joe is leading 4 Day Week Global’s pilot program, with 150 companies launching six-month coordinated trials of the four-day week in the first half of 2022 alone. These trials involve 7,000 employees from the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand.

​​Connect with Joe on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/joe-o-connor-81704287/
Follow him on Twitter: https://twitter.com/joeoc99

Connect with Loren Baker, Founder of Search Engine Journal:

Follow him on Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/lorenbaker
Connect with him on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lorenbaker





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Google Said Linking To WhatsApp Phone Numbers Is Not A Bad SEO Practice

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Google Said Linking To WhatsApp Phone Numbers Is Not A Bad SEO Practice


Google’s John Mueller said on Twitter that it is not a bad SEO practice to link to your WhatsApp number on your site. This is despite what some SEO toolsets say, linking to a WhatsApp number, phone number or fax number is fine and Google does not judge your site differently based on the type of number you link to.

The question was “Google doesn’t like links to a WhatsApp number?” John responded “It’s fine to link to your WhatsApp or phone number (even fax number).”

Here are those tweets so you have more context:

So no need to worry about putting WhatsApp numbers on your site for Google SEO reasons – it is fine either way.

Forum discussion at Twitter.





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