Writing effective web headlines follows its own science and formula. In order to be effective and satisfy your user, you need to adhere to the norms. Web headlines are one instance where being unique and different is not a good thing. Instead, to write an effective web headline, you need to follow the rules.
Effective Web Headline Rules
1. Keywords: Think of your keywords for your article. If you had to sum your article up into only one or two words, what would they be? Aim to make your keywords as specific as possible and not generic.
2. SEO: Your keywords should be relevant to your article and also SEO-friendly. If you choose generic keywords, your headline will not rank high in a user search. That’s why specific and well-targeted keywords are best because a user can search those words and find your article quickly (good SEO).
3. Frontload: Once you have chosen your ideal keywords that are SEO-friendly, place them strategically in your headline. They should be at the front of the sentence; this is called frontloading. You are giving your user the most important information upfront.
4. Be Informational: All of the words in your headline should be informative. There should be no mystery for the user as to what your article will be about. Clever and unique headlines are not as effective as informative ones.
5. Active Voice: There is a difference between active and passive voice. Active voice is favored on the web and in effective headlines. Users want headlines that are concise and filled with action. Passive voice can’t usually accomplish these tasks effectively.
6. Fewer than 10 Words: Long headlines are tedious for users. Make your web headlines short, fewer than 10 words is best. Short, informative, and to the point are the most effective headlines for the web.
7. Use Numbers: Users like numbers, but they don’t like them spelled out. Go ahead and use a number in your headline. It’s even better if you frontload the number (not spelled out).
8. Use Names: Users also like names in headlines. It isn’t essential that your users know who the person is. Specifying a name lends itself to active voice and a claim about the person. Users like this sense of action.
9. Avoid Unique and Witty: Not to overstate it, but unique and witty headlines may be tempting to write. However, they are just not as effective because your user may feel confused about what the article will be about and whether it will interest them. Stick with informational instead.
10. Pair with a Picture: Pairing a great web headline with a relevant picture will enhance your user’s satisfaction. A picture will draw your user’s eyes to your headline. At this point, your user is looking for information in the headline to explain the picture and the article. The picture should reiterate your headline or main point of your article in graphic form.
These are the rules for writing effective web headlines. If you follow them, you are likely to satisfy your user and engage them in your content. Likewise, if you don’t follow them, your user will likely feel unsatisfied and not engage with your content. They may also avoid your content in the future.
Creating a satisfying user experience all begins with a well-written headline.