The head of content strategy for ScrollStack, Kevin J. Delaney, who has nearly 30 years of business writing experience, says there are some key ingredients creators need to have in their work to engage readers. The foremost of these elements is a solid headline.
A good headline will get you more traffic and encourage readers to share your work with others. If you’re charging for your posts, a solid headline is a good way to encourage readers to pay for it.
Here are some tips on writing a good headline and making your work stand out.
Grab the reader’s attention
This post by Delaney on ScrollStack is a good example of that: ‘What if you knew how much money everyone at your company made.’
What you must do when coming up with a headline is to make it as clear as possible for readers what you’re talking about and why it’s interesting.
Once you’ve decided on a topic, try and think about what people might react to and put that as your headline.
Read A LOT of headlines
Put yourself in the shoes of a reader and go through several headlines – carefully making note of the ones that made you want to click to learn more.
Read as many headlines as possible, this will help you understand writing styles and formats that make for an effective headline – and also steer you away from ones that don’t work.
Think about shareability and accessibility
When coming up with a headline, keep in mind that you want readers to share your work with their network. For that to happen, your posts must have an element of shareability. Think about the audience you’re trying to reach and why – and make it more accessible.
The key objective of the headline is to let the reader know what to expect from the piece – without giving away everything. This doesn’t mean your headline has to be dull. There’s a lot of room for creativity – as long as you don’t compromise on clarity.
Take this headline on ScrollStack for example: ‘Research shows that silence and other surprising tactics can make virtual meetings better.’ It tells you exactly what information will be presented in the post.
Use numbers in your headline
In the interest of clarity and transparency, use numbers in your headline to let readers know what exactly to expect from the piece. This headline on ScrollStack is a good example of that: ‘10 helpful tips about branding in your advertising.’ This will make your post more shareable as well.
Tip! Avoid using all caps in your headlines and use title case instead. With title case, you capitalise the first letter of each word – rather than just the first word.
Don’t forget about SEO
To make sure your work is appearing in search rankings and to get more traffic from Google, it’s critical to have keywords in your headline.
Apart from being clear and interesting, your headline should have words that readers are actually searching for on the web. However, beware of overloading your headline with keywords.
Brian Dean of Backlinko has prepared a guide to search engine optimization in 2021 where he focuses on key SEO trends. The complete guide is available here.
Here are some of his tips: find untapped keywords on Reddit, update and republish your old posts, look for a keyword’s Google Adwords ads to maximize clicks, link out to trusted sites, publish posts with at least 1,800 words, and use the Google Search Console to get targeted traffic.
Tip! Find undiscovered keywords using this tool.
Best practices for republishing
Republishing your old posts is a great way to increase your reach and capture new audiences. If you’re republishing your work from other websites like The Conversation, Medium, etc. on ScrollStack, here are some best practices to consider to ensure Google doesn’t penalize you.
Backlink and footnote
This one is crucial! Make sure that your republished post on ScrollStack includes a link back to your original article.
Example footnote text: This post originally appeared on The Conversation [link to the original post here].
If you change the headline of the post, make sure to not lose the keywords.
Add new media
Try adding more images, graphics and videos to your post.
Apart from this, make sure to add compelling images to your posts. Great images can lift up your work and make it more attractive. Here are some free stock images websites to help make your posts more visually appealing.