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Your Essential Guide to Creating Killer Subheaders for Web Content

This post was updated in January 2019.

You spend hours perfecting your web content.

You create a headline that’s unique, urgent, and ultra-specific.

Like Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel, you carefully craft your content with gentle but passionate effort.

When you’re done, your blog is flawless.

In fact, it’s beautiful.

It answers your audience’s needs, questions, and problems. It’s entertaining. There’s nothing like it online.

So why are people still clicking the back button like it’ll save their lives?

The answer is you may be doing something wrong that hugely affects your blog’s readability – and that is writing dull subheaders. 🤨

Your Essential Guide to Creating Killer Subheaders for Web Content – Table of Contents

Why Amazing Content Isn’t Enough to Prevent Your Readers from Running

How Subheaders Can Attract More Readers to Your Blog

10 Mistakes That Weaken Subheaders for Web Content

Five Easy Steps to Compelling Subheaders for Web Content

Are Your Subheaders Good Enough to Reduce Your Bounce Rate?

You can call your web content the best one you've made so far. But why is your bounce rate still high? You might have missed polishing your subheaders! 💎 Read this essential guide to creating killer subheaders by @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

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Why Amazing Content Isn’t Enough to Prevent your Readers from Running

The web isn’t your local library.

And people don’t go online to ponder upon beautifully written sentences.

For instance, imagine yourself clicking a website and seeing a huge block of text like this.

Source: Amazon

Jeet Thayil’s novel is a deep, thought-provoking work. However, it requires a quiet corner and hours of time to read and ponder on.

Online, it’s not about reading for pleasure. It’s about finding a solution to a problem in the shortest time possible. So no matter how helpful your content is, people won’t read it if you present it in a long block of text.

This is why amazing content isn’t enough to keep readers from bouncing. You need amazing content and an amazing way to present it.

The solution? Divide your text into sections with attention-grabbing subheaders.

An amazing web content allows people to find the solution to a problem in the shortest time possible. 🙋 They don't have the time to scan through a huge wall of text! 😣 So it's important to use subheaders. Click To Tweet

How Subheaders Can Attract More Readers to Your Blog

Here’s the cool part.

Subheaders can do more for you than just prevent your readers from running when they see long blocks of text on your page.

In fact, they can get you even more readers!

This is because of how Google’s web crawlers work.

Users search for information, products, and help on Google using chosen keywords. What crawlers do is come up with relevant sites that have the content these users are looking for.

On your part, it’ll help when you add relevant keywords to your content. But did you know that where you put these keywords is as important as which keywords you use?

That’s right. Google crawlers pay extra attention to website headings and subheadings. When you plant your keywords in them, you improve your SEO ranking considerably.

The result? More people finding your blog and reading it!

Besides making your content more readable, subheaders can bring more readers to your site 🏃🏿 - especially if you've added the right, relevant keywords. Click To Tweet

10 Mistakes That Weaken Subheaders for Web Content

While your first instinct might be to cut up your content and slap on any keyword-rich subheader you can think of above each section, don’t do that.


Your subheaders are the glue that will compel people to read your whole post.

Think of them as your mini headlines. While your curiosity-piquing headline sucked people into your blog, it’s the job of your subheadings to suck people into every section of your blog.

Subheadings have the power to compel your readers to keep reading until the end of your post.

That is if they’re done right.

But a ton of things could go wrong with your subheadings. Here are 10 of them.

1. Forgetting Your Blog’s Promise

Readers come to your blog because your headline promised them something.

For instance, take a look at this headline from Healthline.

Readers click on this headline because it promises them something specific: They’ll get relief from a toothache without visiting a dentist.

Now, see the subheadings listed below? Each one of them is in line with the blog’s promise.

Imagine what would happen if you wrote a subheading like The History of Toothaches. You got it. Readers won’t go that far on your blog.

2. Turning Subheadings into Content Spoilers

Subheadings can be tricky.

You want to keep them in line with your blog’s main promise.

BUT you don’t want them to give too much away.

Look at this example:

When readers see this subheading, they won’t need to read the content you write under it. They already know everything it’ll say.

Now, what about this subheading?

This subheading still delivers on the promise of your blog. However, it’s just a sneak peek that encourages readers to get into your content. When they continue reading, they learn that the secret ingredient for outstanding subheadings is uniqueness.

3. Being Too Dry

Putting emotion into your writing always works. Why? Because readers come to your blog with their own complex feelings.

For instance, think of a small business owner who’s going bankrupt. What emotion is he feeling? Maybe it’s fear, hopelessness, or desperation. When he goes online and finds your blog, he takes these emotions with him.

What you need to do with your subheadings is to offer alternative emotions. For instance, “The Unexpected Lifeline That Saved My Doomed Business” is full of hope, courage, and optimism. These emotions will keep your businessman reading until the end of your post.

If you want to test your subheadings for emotion, try AMI Institute’s Free Headline Analyzer.

4. Overdoing Creativity

Creativity is good, but not all the time.

Look at the title of chapter three in Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient.

Source: Amazon

This line is taken from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. What does the chapter title say about the chapter itself? To answer that, it’ll take hours of pondering and even debate.

Now, if your goal is to win an award for literary fiction, you should go ahead and be as deeply creative as you can. But for your blog? An overly creative and confusing subheading will have readers running.

5. Confusing Subheaders with Labels

When you think of subheadings as mere “labels” for new sections of content, you turn them dry and yawn-inducing.

For instance, let’s say you’re writing a section on your blog about how to craft amazing content. You can craft the subheading into a boring label such as “How to Craft Amazing Content.”

Or you can inject a drop of life and intrigue into it. For example, you can make it “10 Hacks for Amazing Content Most Writers Don’t Know.”

6. Missing Out on the Guidance Your Subheaders Can Give

Your subheadings are powerful guides that will help you create better content.

Imagine you’re writing a blog dealing with how to write online content. You prepare your outline, including a number of subheadings.

Now, let’s reuse the two examples of subheadings for web content in the previous point. If your subheader reads “How to Craft Amazing Content,” you’ll do some research and come up with a few tips. The result? A generic piece that only scratches the surface of your topic.

But what if you choose “10 Hacks for Amazing Content Most Writers Don’t Know”? You can’t settle for generic. You need to dive deeper and find unique, uncommon writing secrets most people don’t know.

See where subheaders can lead you? Great subheaders will always result in great content.

7. Not Being Relatable

When you write subheadings for web content, make sure they resonate with relevant questions in your readers’ minds.

For instance, take a look at this subheading.

This subheading works because almost all human beings ask this question at some point. It’s relatable and what’s more, it’s interesting. You want to know why the question is really three questions.

8. Creating a Weak Subheading for Conclusion

After you’ve come up with powerful subheadings for your piece, you might be tempted to slack off with your subheading for the conclusion. Don’t do this.

Your concluding subheading precedes the summary of your blog. Get it right, and readers will leave your site feeling satisfied.

Here’s an example from our own blog Why We Introduced Header Formatting in Word in our Writing Team as a New Standard.

The subheading for the conclusion shouldn’t be a last-minute label for the final part of your blog. It’s a title for one of the most important parts of your blog: your conclusion.

9. Leaving Out SEO

As mentioned earlier, planting killer keywords into your subheadings will help you rank better on Google.

Here’s how to do it for more success:

  • Use your focus keyword in your first subheading.
  • Use synonymous keywords in the following subheadings.
  • Use variations of your keywords if your grammar sounds awkward.

Here’s an example of subheaders that optimize the keyword “tone of voice.”

Source: The Write Blog

10. Limiting Yourself

So, how many subheaders should you use within your content?

The answer: the sky’s the limit! More subheaders in your content means content that’s easier to read. For example, check out this blog: Your Guide to Subheaders in Content: What to Do with H1s, H2s, and H3s. When you do, you’ll see that it has 14 subheaders!

Are your subheaders too dry? confusing? or missing a keyword? 😕 Know the rest of the common subheader mistakes and how to avoid them in this guide by @JuliaEMcCoy 🗂️ Click To Tweet

Five Easy Steps to Compelling Subheaders for Web Content

Here’s a simple exercise you can do every time you need to write subheaders for web content.

  • Step one: Open the blog you wrote. Go through it casually and take note of the subheaders you used.
  • Step two: Go over the blog again. This time, separate each subheader and the following text from the rest of the blog.
  • Step three: Study the text under the subheader carefully. What’s its big idea? What’s the main purpose of the section?
  • Step four: Imagine that section of text was a stand-alone article. If so, what would you title it?
  • Step five: Craft your subheading as carefully as if it were a headline. Study it to make sure you haven’t made any of the 10 mistakes mentioned above. Are you merely using it as a label? Giving away too much information? Confusing readers? If your answer is no to all 10, you’ve come up with a killer subheader.

Are Your Subheaders Good Enough to Reduce Your Bounce Rate?

When readers land on your blog, you have around eight seconds to capture their attention. In such a short span of time, how do you convince them to read everything you’ve written?

You got it. The magic starts with subheaders that work like headlines to pull readers into every single section of your blog.

And when you have subheaders for web content that are unique, targeted to solve problems, curiosity-piquing, and promising? Your bounce rate will decrease.

Want to get content that’s supercharged with killer subheadings? Visit our content shop to learn more.

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