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As any good content marketer knows, it’s not enough just to create an entertaining or informative piece of content that you can publish online and then share via social media – you also have to come up with a great headline that will get people to click in the first place. People have limited attention spans these days, and you need to grab their attention with great headlines. Here are a few of the best tips and tricks for writing an article headline that gets clicks in the social media era.
#1: Don’t resort to clickbait
If you’ve spent any amount of time on the Internet recently, you’ll realize that it’s filled with clickbait – seemingly irresistible headlines (“You’ll never believe what happens next!”) that always over-promise and under-deliver. Not only is clickbait unethical, it’s also not nearly as effective as it was just a few years ago. Today, clickbait is associated with “fake news” and all the other problems of social media. If you’re serious about building a trusted, authoritative brand – then never, ever resort to clickbait just to get the click.
#2: Be as clear and descriptive as possible
Back in the analog era, it might have made sense to lead with a cryptic headline or a clever pun. But guess what? In the digital era, those tactics are outdated. What is needed now is clear, descriptive headlines that tell readers exactly what to expect. On Entrepreneur.com, for example, one recent headline was: “This 19-year-old entrepreneur is exposing the secrets of the billion dollar underground sneaker market.” (Any questions about what you are about to find out here?) And, since there is no limit on how long a headline can actually be, you’ve probably noticed that headlines are getting, well, a lot longer these days.
#3: Optimize for SEO
One reason for the growing length of headlines has to do with SEO. Longer headlines mean more words can be added for SEO purposes. As a general rule of thumb, your most important SEO keywords should appear as early as possible in the title. If in doubt about which words to include in a headline, always err in favor of words that people are likely to be searching for via Google.
#4: Do a little testing and experimenting
You don’t have to run formal A/B tests to do testing and experimenting with headlines. Your goal is to see which types of headlines resonate the most with your customer or fan base. If you’re a B2B company, for example, you might want to minimize the number of Buzzfeed-like article headlines that you use. (Recent Buzzfeed headlines have included “I guarantee you will find your new favorite dress in this post” and “35 products we’ll literally never stop trying to convince you to buy”).
It helps, of course, to get inspiration online from your favorite websites. Instead of reading articles on those websites, spend some time just reading the headlines. See which articles are showing up in the “Trending” or “Most Popular” category – that should give you a good idea of what types of headlines are most effective. By paying attention to current trends, you can get an intuitive feel for what works – and what doesn’t. And that will help you create the very best headlines possible.