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Hook the Reader with a Great Headline

The headline or title is the most important part of your content. In the case of email, make that the subject line. It is the first thing people read and it is what they use to decide if they will read further.

Write the headline last, after you know exactly what content it will represent. Consider these important elements as you craft the right one:

  • Target audience
  • Purpose of the content
  • Importance to the reader
  • Accuracy
  • Right Language

Who Is the Content for?

Who do you really want to see the content? In other words, who is your target audience?

The target reader for each piece of content is generally a subset of your overall target audience. Not everything you offer is interesting to everyone, and that’s OK. Think about who this content is really for and write the headline to speak to that person.

What Is the Purpose of the Content?

Every piece of content must serve a purpose for your company.  You need to know the purpose to make the content effective. Common purposes include:

  • Entice someone to open an email
  • Share information on a website or social media channel
  • Increase brand visibility on search engine results pages

Write a headline that reflects the purpose as well as the key point of the content.

Why Would Someone Read This?

Your content has a purpose for you and a purpose for the reader. Understand why someone would be interested in the content from their perspective. Write a headline that clearly lets them know what’s in it for them.

A great headline will tease the unique attributes of the content. Give the reader a reason to read on.

Don’t Be Tricky

Clever headlines catch attention, but they must be related to the content. Don’t annoy readers by making them think they have been duped by a headline that does not match the content. That approach can do long-term damage to your online marketing efforts.

Keep Language Rules in Mind

There are some language rules that will lead to effective headlines, no matter the topic or the audience. Always use:

  • Active verbs
  • Concise language
  • Clear wording

Shorter is always better: few words with few syllables and few letters.

The Right Link Text Will Get You Ahead

Recent research by Nielsen Norman Group gives great advice on the best link labels.  To get the most clicks, write specific links that set sincere expectations, are substantial enough to stand alone, and are as succinct as possible.

As people scan your site, they look for links to get them to the information you want. Keep these four elements in mind to create links.

A link’s primary purpose is to communicate to users what they’ll find when they click. Vague or repetitive language fails that purpose. “Learn more” and “Click here” are not effective links.

What makes a great link? These four elements:

  • Specific: Make the link text specific, so the user knows exactly what they’ll get.
  • Sincere: Link text must set expectations that will be instantly met when the user clicks . When links set expectations that aren’t met, the user’s trust in the site and the organization it represents is reduced.
  • Substantial: Most users scan rather than read online. Links draw attention. The link text needs to give the user enough information to decide to click.
  • Succinct: Get to the point as quickly as possible, to increase the likelihood that users will quickly understand the link.

Great Post AND Awesome SEO

When you commit to writing a blog, the first fear is probably coming up with enough topics to write about. These days, writing an interesting post isn’t even half the game.

Writing a blog post or other online content is only worthwhile if it helps your effort to be found online. Every blog post should advance your search engine optimization (SEO) goals.

It is actually pretty easy to write a post that your audience finds interesting AND helps your SEO.

Define the Message

What do you want to tell your readers? What is the key takeaway you want to offer?

Every post you write should have a purpose. Define that purpose before you start to write.

Keywords Come First

Every post should be written with keywords in mind. You need to use the same words and phrases that your audience uses when searching online. Define a primary keyword or phrase. Also have a list of keywords related to the content. Use them all!

Structure Your Writing

Start with an introduction. Say what you are going to say. Tell the reader why they want to spend the time to read your post.

Write the text of the post in a series of short paragraphs. Each paragraph should consist of short sentences that use short words. This approach increases the chances your reader will understand what you are saying.

Group related paragraphs with subheads that keep the flow. The reader should be able to read the title and subheads alone and get the main point of your post.

End with a conclusion that revisits your main message. All of the elements – title, subheads, paragraph and conclusion should make use of keywords.

When you are done you have told the reader what you will say, provided the details, and then told them what you said. And, you have done all of that using the words and phrases that they use!

Write Enough to Count

Aim for 600 words minimum per post. Google likes articles of 600-1200 words. However, if your article is too long and not easy to read it won’t be read. So make every word worth reading!

Link Related Content

Be sure to use links to connect related content. Link to related website pages and other blog posts. Internal links – links within your website and/or blog – helps readers get the full breadth of your expertise. Links are also important for your search engine rank.

Add New Content

Search engines like active websites. A major signal is new content. So, be sure to add new content often.

Make sure every addition adds to your business goal, highlights your expertise and speaks in the words (keywords!) that your audience uses. You will keep you audience interested and attract the attention of search engines, too!

Great Content Works

Every blog post is an opportunity to highlight your expertise and to talk to your audience in a way that makes sense to them. It is also an opportunity to get the attention of search engines. Make sure every post follows the basics of great online writing and you will advance your business goals.