Have you ever thought of what is the first thing you do after you read an interesting headline? Most probably you scroll through the article, blog, or post and read the subheaders and this is exactly what your readers are doing. Even if you manage to captivate their attention with your amazing headline, you didn’t win them over yet. If they don’t find the sub headers as interesting as the headline, they will simply click on another link and it’s bye-bye traffic. So, how could you write subheaders that will keep the reader engaged?
1. What Does The Reader Have to Gain?
Most probably you mentioned the benefits of your piece in the headline, but the reader needs constant reminding of why they should go on reading your article. This is why you must have good subheaders. This is not the time to slack off.
2. Give Your Readers a Roadmap
In the moment when the readers scan the subheaders they must get a general idea of what your piece is all about. If they cannot use them as guidance, they will simply leave the page.
3. A Call to Action
When writing a blog or an article, it is best to start the subheaders with the same part of speech. As an example you could have all the sub headers start with a verb. These will also represent a call to action and your readers will have a more powerful emotional response. However, this tip may not work in case of sales pages. If you have a sales page, focus on making the reader read the next paragraph instead of emphasizing the subheadings.
4. Build Your Piece on Subheaders
You may have heard that it is best to start with the headline before writing the body. Once you are done with this, write the subheaders. This will guide you towards writing high quality content.
5. Give People an Explanation
It is all right for the subheader to be longer than the headline. In fact the sub headers are an extension of the headline and these are the elements that put the body into context.
6. SEO: Don’t Forget It
You might have all the witty words and little jokes you can think of in your sub headers, but if they don’t really have anything to do with your SEO targets, they will be useless from the traffic’s point of view. At the end of the day, your web content will be alive only in case there are people interested in it.
7. Give Your Readers A Break
Even if you write content, for sure you also read other’s content. Let’s be honest: do you prefer reading long blocks of content that go on and on indefinitely or you’d rather read something broken up into smaller pieces that gives you the impression that you won’t have so much to read to get all the information you need? For sure you’d go for the second option and subheaders are a great way to break up the content; feel free to use them.
8. Don’t Label Your Content
Many people think of subheaders as labels. Like reading the label on a jar saying “jam,” it’s plain, lifeless and totally uninteresting. Instead it should say, “the secret ingredient for a sweet life”. Simple labels don’t attract the attention of the readers; subheaders do.
9. But Don’t Spoil The Fun!
If the sub header tells the readers exactly what the content is about, there will be no point in them reading the content. You should be using the subheaders to make the readers curious about your content and engaged.
10. Avoid Cryptic Messages
Sometimes people think that if they use subheaders that contain a secret message they will raise the interest of the readers. However, in many cases, instead of making the readers interested, they only confuse them. They will have the impression that they have no idea what the writer is writing about. The readers are searching for information not puzzles.
11. Use the Element of Surprise
The effect that you have to be going for when it comes to subheaders is to have the readers ask, “what on earth could that be about?” Use your own personality and think of the phrases that would make you curious and that will make the readers curious.
12. Create an Emotion
The subheaders don’t necessarily have to be mysterious or funny. Sometimes it is enough to focus on words that create an emotion in the reader. Think of something like “The only thing that could save my business”. Such a subheader will make the reader be interested and you can be sure that they will read all the content.
13. Give Readers Something Relatable
Do you know the questions that you ask yourself from time to time? You can be sure that these are the exact same questions that other people ask themselves as well. If your content gives an answer to any of them, make sure that you let the readers know. In the subheader ask the question that everybody is asking.
14. Do You Need To Give Up Being Direct?
Never forget that no two readers are the same. This is why, although it may seem dull, sometimes you have to be direct. For sure there will be some readers thinking “this is exactly what I have been thinking about” and they will read your piece. Just make sure that this won’t be your ruling style.
15. Hit the News
In case you are writing about something new, you can use the power of novelty. A journalistic style subheader can be straightforward and it can have authority without being boring or offering too much information.
If you ever skipped a chapter of a book because it seemed boring or uninteresting, you will understand why your readers will skip some parts of your piece or your piece entirely. The only option for salvation is having subheaders that grab the readers and simply don’t let them go. Try these tips and see how well your next piece of published content does.