If you’re reading this, you’re among just 20% of readers who make it past the headline. This article refers to a study by Conductor, who looked in the behaviors of blog readers and how the headline has an impact on what articles get read, nad which are skipped over.
With over 250 million blogs on the internet, competing for reader’s attention is fierce and getting an edge any way possible can help your blog stand out above the rest.
I’ve written about How Copywriting Killer SEO Page Titles Destroy The Competition before and this new study cements the idea even further.
Types of Headlines
Conductor tested different headline types to determine which resonate with readers by analyzing a large sample set of headlines from multiple content sources including BuzzFeed and The Huffington Post.
They found there to be 5 main headline types:
– Normal (Ways Matcha Green Tea Burns Fat)
– Question (What are Ways Matcha Green Tea Burns Fat?)
– How to (How Matcha Green Tea Burns Fat
– Number (30 Ways Matcha Green Tea Burns Fat)
– Reader-Addressing (Ways Matcha Green Tea Burns Fat While You Sit At Your Desk)
Conductor showed respondents headlines written in each style for three different articles and asked them to select the headline that resonated most.
According to the findings, “number” headlines resonated the most by far.
Overstating The Point
Conductor also tested a readers tolerance for superlatives in a headline. For example,
– 12 Ways to Catch a Fish (0 superlatives)
– 12 Best Ways to Catch a Fish (1 superlatives)
– 12 Best Ways Ever to Catch a Fish (2 superlatives)
– 12 Best Ways Ever to Catch The Perfect Fish (3 superlatives)
– 12 Best and Smartest Ways Ever to Catch The Perfect Fish (4 superlatives)
The results from the study showed that over half of readers preferred headlines with one or no superlatives.
Interestingly, it seems you can go wild with superlatives and really overstate the point to get the message across. Being somewhere in the middle is no good.
Next, Conductor surveyed readers about their preference for headline capitalization.
– How to speed up your blog like a pro (lower case)
– HOW TO SPEED UP YOUR BLOG LIKE A PRO (all capitals)
– How To Speed Up Your Blog Like A Pro (sentence case)
The study found a clear preference for sentence case.
The Study’s Conclusion
The best performing headlines are ones that explicitly state what the reader would get out of reading the article. The benefits.
Why do numbers in headlines work so well? It’s very specific and readers like to know exactly what they’re going to get for investing their time.
Contrast that with the least popular headline type, the question. This type of headline leaves some uncertainty for the reader, and uncertainty is certainly not best.
Remember, 80% of readers never make it past the headline, so craft your headline carefully and thoughtfully. It’s not just about SEO or being witty. Get the reader’s attention and be as explicit as possible about what your content will and will not do for them.
Although headlines should be *just* about SEO, you definitely should take search engines into account. It’s a fine balance between crafting a great headline and getting your target keyword in there.
The main thing to take away from the study is that the headline is at least as important as the article’s content, if not more so. If you can’t get reader’s attention to click through to your article, the content might as well not even exist.
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