Writing accurate, compelling display copy is no easy feat. These tips can help.
By Colleen Ringer
When it comes to creating content, there may be no heavier burden than the one borne by the headline. Tasked with enticing readers to click through and read more, headlines need to also provide a glimpse of the topic at hand and add SEO value — and they need to do all of that within very limited word count parameters. So, how do you write a headline that works? Here, C/A editors offer their tips and tricks.
Be Direct and Descriptive
Today’s average consumer can sense clickbait from a mile away. (Remember when every headline was some iteration of “You’ll never believe what happened next”?) Rather than relying on a manufactured sense of suspense to drive clicks, use language that lets the reader know what the story is about right away. This can help drive higher-quality conversions and show respect for the reader — nobody likes to feel misled.
Optimizing for search will help more readers discover your content, and when your headline speaks directly to what they’re searching for, they’ll be more likely to click through.
Integrate Target Keywords
Before you begin drafting any copy, conduct keyword research. In addition to boosting your content’s SEO, incorporating target keywords can help you narrow the focus of your headline — and maybe even the story itself. Optimizing for search will help more readers discover your content, and when your headline speaks directly to what they’re searching for, they’ll be more likely to click through.
Choose Your Words Carefully
The pull of the thesaurus can be strong, but when it comes to headlines, sometimes simpler is better. If your article is offering information on how to spot the signs of a stroke, call it that. If you’re writing a travel guide to Mexico City, say so in the display copy. Superfluous and uncommon words only serve to alienate your target audience.
Delineate Between Print and Digital
When repurposing print content for the web, it is typically a good idea to write an entirely new headline. While print pieces often feature creative headlines bolstered by design and untethered to the world of SEO, digital headlines are quite the opposite. When you take a high-level editorial intro and paste it into a grey text box, the headline’s meaning all but disappears in the absence of design and complementary copy. For maximum on-page SEO, opt instead for something descriptive and tangible for your digital pieces.
Ask ChatGPT to Write Your Headline
As an AI-driven natural language processing tool, ChatGPT can read your content and generate headlines that are optimized for search engine rankings or social media shares. Once ChatGPT generates a list of headline options for you, it’s important to take the time to review them for accuracy and refine them to ensure they align with your brand voice and target audience.