Content Masterclass: Headlines that get Clicks
For many sites, the importance of quality content is a lesson that they have learning the hard way. Google penalties or just a long-running blog that never gets read are just two of the symptoms of badly written content. With this in mind, I thought that today, we’d take a look at what inspires people to click on a headline and go on to read a blog.
Good headlines are an art form that it’s not particularly easy to get right. We know from experience that ‘How to’ pieces and ‘5 tips for..’ type posts are popular with readers. Why? Just from glancing at the title the reader knows that they will learn something and so that content is of value to them.
However, no matter how good your title is, if you can’t back it up with a good read, then it’s worthless. Take for example the kind of sensationalist headlines that the tabloids use and how popular these are amongst the reading public. People love a good scandal and the juicier the better for the most part. However, does creating this kind of clickable headline mean that your post will do well?
Well yes, it probably will so long as the content of the article is reasonably well-written and contains information that can be supported. But is this really the kind of content you want to be building a reputation for? Are you sure that these types of headlines won’t do more harm than good? After all, thought leadership is something that you want to be respected for as someone at the head of their industry isn’t it?
There are ways in which you can combine the two though and this is all about the branding. Take technology site The Register, for example. The headlines that the hugely successful site is known for are funny, controversial and sometimes, just downright rude. But they work.
Take a couple of today’s headlines for example:
“Samsung touching up ROUNDED, CURVY plastic enhanced MODEL”
“Wanna run someone over in your next Ford? No dice, it won’t let you”
“It’s the end of jokes about women parking, too”
These are just great aren’t they? I love the site, it very often has me laughing out loud at the monitor and even sometimes makes me cringe, when the headlines are especially close to the bone. And therein lies the reason why The Register and all of its stories are successful, along with the fact that the site uses damn good writers that know their trade.
It’s also worth pointing out that The Register has made this a part of their brand so the important of getting the right voice when creating a strong brand is a vital part of the process.
A headline that provokes an immediate emotional response is one that is a winner. Humour is by far the winning emotion and controversy is a close second. We want to read things that make us feel and for that reason, every headline should attempt to create an emotional hook.
Another good idea when coming up with ideas for content is to always keep your eye on hot topics. You know the ones, these make the news every day, whether its mainstream or more niche news sites. By reading the news for your industry every morning, you can pick up hot topics but as you really want to be amongst the first to use them, it’s even better if you can get in there early. To do this, visit the site of every company that’s relevant for your industry and that’s large enough to create regular press releases and sign up to receive them by email, you’ll be surprised just how much useful information and great stories come your way.
Get a hot enough topic, create a great headline and then get it posted asap and you could be in a chance with it going viral, especially if you use all the distribution channels that you can.
Another good idea is to sign up to Google Alerts, using keywords that are industry relevant and sitting back to watch stories come in. This isn’t as good as getting the story from the source as it means that its already been posted about, but it’s a handy tool.
Remember to check the major news outlets such as Reuters too to catch any breaking news as it comes in.
Just following these simple steps could make all the difference to the amount of shares, reads and comments that your content does, so get creative and start coming up with headlines that just scream ‘click me’.