The headline is the most important part of every blog post. In this episode, we discuss a counter-intuitive, but highly effective exercise you should go through on EVERY blog post in order to model and create highly effective blog post headlines.
And so with that, I welcome you back to Coffee Break Blogging, Episode 60. 😉
Today we are going to dive right into the content of our blog post and talk a little bit about that. Obviously, with a podcast about blogging, content is a pretty big part of what we are doing here. And so that is what we are going to be talking about here…
How To Make Content That Is Going To Engage
Now the first thing we want to talk about is our headlines. It is really the gateway to whether anybody is going to read your blog post.
Statistically, most people are not going to read your blog post. It kind of truly sucks! We think that all of our readers are going to check it out because they are interested but it is actually not the way that it actually works. But is what is going to really set it for you and really be the “make or break” point of whether they will read or not is going to be your headline.
Now, if you are anything like me, you probably do not put a lot of thought onto your headline. Well, at least I didn’t used to; I do this a lot more now. I used to be; and still I am, by nature… a guy that shoots from the hip. I tend to write a good post and then I’ll come back and look for a headline that I think people would search for on Google to find a post like what I just wrote and I would tailor it by that; and then you know, tweak it a little bit to try to make the headline sort of interesting but basically, I would shoot from the hip.
There are better ways to go. And that is what we are going to be talking about.
Now the real big thing you want to do when it comes to headline is, do you want to write a ton of them? And this is probably the big idea that I want you to get from this episode; and I want you to work this into your procedure or your system or every time you write a blog post, I want you to do this:
Write 25 headlines for every single blog post.
Now it might seem like an awful lot of work and I got to be honest with you; it definitely is more work. Where did I get this from? the first time I heard of this was a presentation that was put on by the people at Upworthy.com. If you are familiar with upworthy or if you are not familiar with Upworthy; it is a viral content site. And essentially what they do is they scour the web looking for things that are interesting and then they surface it on upworthy.com. And essentially what they are doing is they are putting a really, really sexy headline on it; packaging the content the way to magnify it out there, make it viral… but essentially, they didn’t make it. And that is the really cool thing about their model; they did not write the content. But what they are really good at is the headlines.
So they did a presentation. I actually have a blog post over at blogmarketingacademy.com where I talk all about headlines and I did link in their presentation in that blog post. But they talk about every single blog post that they write or piece of content that they do; they write 25 headlines for it. And just the process of writing those 25 headlines you are going to arrive at a lot better ones. Usually a shoot from the hip “I’m going to write one headline and dammit, that is going to be the one I’ll put out there” isn’t going to be your best headline. So if you sit down and you force yourself to write 25 of them, you are going to start coming out with a lot better headlines.
I actually did the exercise. I tried it. And I think it took me about 12 or 13 minutes to do it. So it is not that bad and the scheme of things in 12 or 13 minutes is a pretty good investment of time to come up with a better headline to get more people to read my post and get more effect from the post. Because if it takes me 3 or 4 hours to write a good blog post; the last thing I want is for me to cut the readership of that post in half because I wasn’t willing to spend an extra 10 or 15 minutes coming up with a really clever headline for it.
So that is a real big thing that I hope that you will begin doing and really put it to use. You can go out there in Google and search for this, by the way… upworthy+25+headlines or something like that; you will find this presentation. And this is a really good piece of advice: It does take a little bit longer but you are going to come up with a lot better headlines.
Keep A Swipe File Of Headlines
The other thing that I recommend that you do is keep a “swipe file” of headlines. This is something that is easy to do when you read other blogs; whether they be in the same market or not, even if it is just blogs that you are personally interested in and you see a headline that makes you want to read it, ask yourself “What is it about the headline which is actually working right now?” Save that headline. Swipe it in to Evernote or something and keep a swipe file.
I like to keep my swipe file inside of Evernote. And you can really use these things as models to come up with your own headlines. And you are going to find these headlines everywhere. You are going to find them on magazine covers. So if you are in the bookstore and you see a really, really good headline on the front of the magazine, what can you do? Pop up your phone, snap a little photo of it and put it into Evernote; and you have got that and your swipe file.
Magazines & Social Media
Same thing when you are in the grocery store check-out line and you are looking for magazines. Now obviously, those things are going to be like celebrity gossip and mostly bull crap, but the headline structure works. And so that is something that you can swipe with your phone and put it in an Evernote swipe file. Same thing with blogs or social media stuff that you see in Facebook or Twitter; when you see a headline that really works and you think you can model, you could swipe that into an Evernote swipe file.
You can go and find swipe files; for example you could go to Google.com right now and here is a search that you could run… you could search for: headline swipe file… very simple and see what comes up. But here is a little modifier that you can put on that; and you may not even know that you could do this with Google, but put: headline swipe file and then the next thing, say “filetype:pdf”… one word with no space in there… and what that will do is tell Google to search for “headline swipe file” but specifically PDF search results. So you are going to get a bunch of PDF files of different swipe files that other people created. You can go and check them out, and guess what you can do… you can save them and put them in Evernote. So you had other people do all the work for you creating these headline swipe files and you can now put them in Evernote and save you a hell of a lot of time. And then you, when you need to come up with your 25 headlines for your next blog post you can go and use these swipe files so you do not have to sit there and rack your brain for an hour. You can use these swipe files and shorten it to maybe 10 or 15 minutes; like it took for me to come up with these 25 things.
Now once you come up with these 25 headlines…
What do you do after that?
Well, pick the one that makes the most sense to you; that really stands out to you and you can use that as your headline. Now what can you do with the other headline there; the other 24 of them? Well chances are, a good portion of them are going to suck; let’s be honest. But you are probably going to have five or so headlines and be like “Ah, those are pretty good, actually” but you can only use one.
Split Test It
Well, there are a few things that you can do. First of all, there are plug-ins out there; I had to go out and find it for you but you can find this on Google quite easily, but there are plug-ins in WordPress that will allow you to split test headlines on a single blog post and so you can enter two or three different headlines for the same exact blog post and WordPress will literally, automatically rotate them and find out which one gets the most incoming traffic. So that is something that you can do. And then the plug-in will actually take the winner and make that your permanent headline.
Share And Check Stats
Here’s another thing that you could do with your alternative headline; is when you share your post out on social media to get traffic to them, you obviously don’t want to send out the exact same tweet multiple times but you can send out your alternative headlines.
And then what do you do from there? You could see which one of those tweets is getting the most click-throughs. Now obviously, you are going to want to use a different bitly link or something like that so you can actually track which of those tweets are getting the most engagements.
In fact if you go to your Twitter account like actual Twitter.com and not inside of an app or something, you can go to the stats section. I think it is maybe in the advertising sections; it’s been a little while since I’ve been there, but you can actually look at your stats and see which of your tweets are getting the most engagement; the most click-throughs. So what you can do is then go and look at which version of your headline is getting higher click-through rates from Twitter and then you can go, “Okay, well that might be a better converting headline than even the one I’m using on my blog” so go change your headline. And it isn’t going to hurt anything. You can definitely go and switch out a headline after the fact. Now obviously do not change your URL to the blog post, but you can change the headline. It is not going to have a negative impact.
So that is what you could do with those alternative headlines and get maybe another incentive to write 25 headlines for every single blog post that you do.
So those are my big tips on how to actually write better headlines to model high converting headlines. Pay attention to what other people are doing and get a lot more practice by making it a part of your routine to write up to 25 headlines for every single blog post that you publish. Okay? You will get more click-through rates. You will get higher click-through rates, more traffic by doing this.
I will see you in a few days with the next episode where we are going to be talking about how to keep your readers’ attention through to the end of your blog post. This is a very important episode coming up and that will be Episode 61, and I’ll see you then! 🙂