Web Content Writing: 5 Ways to Craft Winning Headlines

Could The Success of Your Web Content Writing Rely on Your Headline? How to Create the Perfect One

by | Jul 22, 2013 | Website Content | 0 comments

It’s undoubtedly true.

Today, the single most important aspect of your web content is your headline.

As people cruise through online content at warp-speed, it’s the content with outstanding headlines that are more likely to get recognized.

Subsequently, it’s the content creators who know how to develop quality headlines that are likely to reap the highest number of likes, shares, and engagement.

While readers want compelling web content writing, the average visitors’ attention span is short, and people are highly unlikely to click on a headline that doesn’t grab their attention, even if the content behind it is high-quality.

With that in mind, learning to craft exciting, unique, informative headlines is by far one of the most critical things a content creator can do for their business. Content relies on headlines, and this guide is designed to help you learn to create outstanding ones.

web writing with headlines

Why Do Headlines in Web Content Writing Matter?

While it’s easy to dismiss the importance of headlines, they’re more critical to content than most people understand.

While 80% of people read a headline, only 20% will go on to read the body content.

Because of this, it’s incredibly important for the headline to be attention-grabbing and unique. This is especially true when you take into account the fact that the average human attention span is around eight seconds, one full second shorter than that of a goldfish.

With these two things in mind, it’s clear that bold, unique, attention-grabbing headlines are more important today than they’ve ever been before. A quality headline can increase click-throughs and boost engagement, while a dull or dry headline can easily harm your content, encouraging readers to move on to a better, brighter topic instead of staying and engaging with yours.

Five Examples of Good (& Bad) Headlines in Web Content

To create compelling headlines, it helps to have an example of what a compelling headline looks like. Here are a few we’ve rounded up:

The Good: 5 Awesome, Stellar Web Headlines

Here are five examples of functional, exciting headlines that get the job done.

“How to “Waste Money” to Improve the Quality of Your Life”

This headline, which features on the blog of Tim Ferriss, does all of the things you expect a great headline to do: it’s unique, attention-grabbing, and different.

While wasting money is often seen as a bad thing, this headline turns that on its, well, head, and makes the reader think twice by claiming it can actually improve the quality of your life.

Are you going to click? I would. 😛

“7 Life-Changing Beauty Products You’ll Wish You Knew About Sooner”

Are these beauty products good? Are they great? No. They’re life-changing! This BuzzFeed headline makes a big promise and offers value and actionability to the reader, all in one sleek package. Maybe that’s why it has more than 46,000 views.

“15 Genius Ways Your Phone Can Help You Sleep Better”

This is another BuzzFeed headline that gets the job done. The word “genius” promises readers that these aren’t run-of-the-mill tips, and the article as a whole addresses a common problem: poor sleep.

“The Amazing Reason that Medals at the Paralympics Make a Sound When you Shake Them”

This is an Upworthy article that does a few things right. In addition to giving readers some new information that grabs their attention (did you know that Paralympics medals made a sound?) this article also promises a bit of information that the reader is unlikely to get anywhere else.

“How to Have a Healthier and More Productive Home Office”

This IncomeDiary piece promises actionable solutions, which makes people want to read. It also promises benefits that virtually everyone wants: better health and increased productivity.

The Bad: 5 Icky, No-Good Headlines

While the good headlines are good, the bad ones are really, really bad. Here are five examples of headlines that missed the mark:

“How to Write (With Pictures)”

The fact that it has pictures doesn’t make this WikiHow article any more compelling. In addition to the fact that its headline is way too vague, it also doesn’t offer the reader any real value, which makes them want to keep looking for something more distinct and unique.

“Has Obama Been a Good President?”

Whether he has or not, this Odyssey article headline doesn’t do much to inspire the reader. With so many interesting headlines out there, this one falls short of the mark.

“5 Strategic Ways to Beat the Competition”

Wait – to beat what competition? Where? How? This NaijaPreneur headline is way too confusing, and way, way too vague.

“How to Win Summer”

Come on FoodNetworkHow to Win Summer? Details, please! This article just doesn’t provide enough specificity to make readers want to click.

“22 Ways to be Beautiful”

While being beautiful is great (presumably), this Self article headline lacks specificity and doesn’t make up for it at any point throughout. While I might click if it added “Without Makeup” or “In the Morning,” I’m not interested in the generalities.

The ROI of a Great Headline: It Impacts All Your Web Writing

While a great headline takes some time to write (some experts claim you should spend 90% of your writing time on the headline alone), they’re well worth the effort.

Here’s why: when a headline is catchy and expertly-crafted, it draws people both in the immediate short-term and in the much longer term for months and years after its initial publish date. In this way, good headlines are the gifts that keep on giving

5 Proven Web Content Headline Creation Tips

Creating great headlines for even better web content writing results can be tough.

These five tips can help:

1. Be as concise as possible in your headlines

In addition to the fact that headlines longer than about 160 characters get cut off in Google’s SERPs, long headlines lose your reader’s attention at a quick rate. With this in mind, keep your headlines short and concise, and pack them with the relevant information your reader needs to click.

2. Be informative in your headlines

Remember those bad headlines we pointed out? Many of them went wrong by simply not being informative enough.

While it’s not necessarily that they were about boring topics, they simply didn’t provide the information a reader needed to be enticed to click, and thus they fell short.

With this in mind, be informative in your headlines. Instead of writing a headline like “22 Ways to be Beautiful,” shoot to include the what, where, and when: “22 Ways to Look Gorgeous (Even After Your Sweatiest Workout)”.

In addition to the fact that this headline targets an audience (people who don’t exercise likely won’t click), it also provides some truly actionable info the audience feels they can rely on.

3. Use a headline tool to gauge your success

Wondering if your headline will cut it or not? One of the best ways to tell is to use a headline tool like Advanced Marketing Institute’s headline analyzer, or CoSchedule’s headline analyzer.

Each tool is designed to help you understand the emotional impact and balance of your headline (between common and uncommon, emotive and powerful words, and more), so you can create better ones every single time.

For an example of how these tools work, check out what happened when we plugged “22 Ways to be Beautiful” into the CoSchedule analyzer:

22 Ways to be Beautiful

4. Add adjectives to your headlines

When used correctly, powerful adjectives can overhaul your headlines. Take “15 Genius Ways Your Phone Can Help You Sleep Better,” for example. Would “15 Ways Your Phone can Help You Sleep Better” have been more compelling? The answer is no, and the reason is simple. “Genius” quantifies the content as high-quality and helps grab readers.

5. Use call-to-action language in your headlines

While many people believe that a call to action and a headline are two separate things, the fact of the matter is that adding call-to-action language to your web content headlines can go a long way toward making them more unique and compelling.

Consider a headline like “Try These 10 Simple Cooking Hacks in Your Kitchen.” When compared to something like “10 Simple Cooking Hacks for Your Kitchen,” it’s easy to see how the first is more compelling.

Content Writing That Transforms Websites

While the headline is a commonly overlooked piece of your content, it’s one of the most critical components of high-ROI material, and web content that transforms–your readers and your revenue.

In addition to drawing in readers and helping drive conversions, a great headline can also help inform and educate your readers, which goes a long way toward turning them into life-long converts for your content.

So regardless of whether you’re writing “how-tos” or “how-comes”, a great headline is the one thing that truly has the potential to transform your content from start to finish. Focus on fantastic headlines in creating your web content, and when it’s time to find a content writer for your website, look for that key skill set to succeed.

Need content writing services for your website? Contact Express Writers today and hire some of the best copywriters in the industry for your web content!