In SEO copywriting, the headline is arguably the most important element of the page simply because it’s what draws the reader in; it’s what makes them click on a link. Nothing can happen before a click takes place – no sales, no traffic, no leads.
Hence, it’s not important if you’re writing copy for your newsletter, your website, your email campaign or an article marketing campaign – whenever you write (online or offline copy for that matter), getting the headline right is most of the battle.
If you’re an SEO copywriter and you want repeat clients – or want to increase sales from marketing your own products and services on the web – knowing how to write headlines is one of the best things you can learn how to do. And, it’s free. All it takes is some dedicated web research, reading and practice.
Some copy writers come by this skill naturally; others have to work at it. I’m in the latter group. I’m constantly reading about how to do it better because a good headline can increase sales, leads and traffic by a significant amount – as much as 90%. They’re that important. Proof? Did you know that . . .
What a Leading Ad Exec Said about Headlines That All SE Copywriters Should Know
On average, 5 times as many people read the headlines as read the body copy. It follows that, unless your headline sells your product, you have wasted 90% of your money.” — David Ogilvy, One of the most influential advertising executives of all time
Never heard of David Ogilvy?
Post Continued Below . . .
Copyright Violation Notice: If you’re reading this entire post (snippets are fine) on any blog other than SeoWritingJobs.com, it is stolen content. Scraping content (eg, using software to illegally copy and paste copyrighted content from websites and blogs) is becoming a common practice which affects every site owner. So if you see this content someplace else, please take a quick moment to send an email to [info]at[SeoWritingJobs.com] (remove brackets, of course) so that we can take the appropriate action. Thank you in advance for your help.
Olgivy was the founder of the world-renown Ogilvy & Mather advertising agency, which had offices in New York City. As an aside, I lived in New York and used to pass by Olgivy offices all the time. When I ran my editorial staffing agency in the city, I wanted badly to land them as a client (unfortunately, it never happened). But, I digress.
Mr. Olgivy is an advertising legend. He’s been called “The Grandfather of Advertising.” Born at the turn of the 20th century (1911), he was writing ad copy long before the internet. Decades later, the principles of writing master copy (ie, headlines) remain basically unchanged – even in this, the age of writing “SEO” copy.
Search Engine Optimization Copywriting: How to Write Headlines that Make Readers Click in 3 Easy Steps
Now that you know just how important headlines are, let’s get to how to write effective ones – ones that make web surfers go click, click, click!
Step 1: Know Which Questions to Ask. Too many web marketers try to sell prospects without knowing even the basics about them because they’re too focused on their need to sell, instead of the prospects want/need to buy.
It’s important to know exactly who you’re selling to; why; why the customer should purchase from you instead of the competition; why the customer wants/needs this product (their motivation for buying); etc. Master SEO copywriters know that this is the first step in writing headlines effectively.
Some experts estimate that you have 3-5 seconds to grab a reader’s attention. Hence, all of the following questions need to be addressed before you can even begin to think about writing any portion of an ad; especially the headline.
This is because your headline has to grab a reader right away – so you have to know who you’re talking to, why and what their motivation is for buying – so you can capture this in the headline copy. To this end, following are 3 questions to ask – and answer – before you even think about writing a headline. There are more, but these are the most important.
i) Who is your customer? What is their age range, interests, race, sex, education, etc.; in short, their demographics.
ii) What are your product/service benefits? What problem(s) does your product/service solve for potential customers? Don’t confuse benefits with features.
iii) Why should a prospect purchase from me as opposed to my competitor? You always have competition. Scope them out and see how you’re different; what makes you and/or your product/service different/better.
Ask these questions for every product/service you promote – and you’ll be well on your way to outpulling a lot of your competition because many just don’t take the time to do this basic lesson.
Now, for the SEO component.
Step 2: SEO Your Copy. This is where today’s web writing techniques come into play. SEO’ing your copy is what gets it properly indexed by search engines so that it can be returned in search results so that readers can find it and react to it. Following is some more info you may not have thought about when it comes to search engine copy and headlines.
Web Copywriting: Why It’s Important to Write Headlines with Search Engine Optimization Guidelines in Mind
Your Headline Is Most Likely Your Web Page Title: Look at the top left of your browser window. In the case of this page, you’ll see the copy, “SEO Copywriting Tips: How to Write Headlines That Can Increase Sales by 90%”.
Search engines tend to rank pages with relevant titles higher than those no title and/or without relevant titles.
Note: All web pages technically have a title, whether you put one in there or not, because search engines will grab text to put there – whether it’s the words that start the text, a generic company name you use as a title for every page, etc.
In fact, many waste this space by either not putting in a title tag, or putting in their company name. This does nothing to tell search engines what a page is all about. Use the title tag, which looks like this <title>Headline of your article/web page</title>.
If you use a content management system like wordpress, it will automatically use the headline of your article as the title of the page.
Reader More Likely to Click on Relevant Titles: When a web surfer types in a keyword phrase, most times thousands of results are returned. What gets them to click most of the time is the title (headline). Hence, the more relevant and benefits-rich it is, the better chance you have of them clicking on it.
Can Serve as Anchor Text: A properly SEO’d headline should include a keyword phrase. If the content is good, other webmasters will want to link to it. Smart webmasters (ie, those who know what works to get traffic) use keyword phrases as anchor text. After all, this is where search begins with potential customers – they conduct searches using keyword phrases.
Bookmarking: How many times have you read a great post on a subject, bookmarked it, but couldn’t find it to save your life when you went back for a second look? If you forget to rename a post for relevancy before you bookmark it, this can happen. That’s why a headline should always be relevant, relevant, relevant (see how this is becoming a theme).
For example, if you’re writing a post about home foreclosure in Florida, you shouldn’t write a headline like “Sunshine State Outlook Not So Sunny for Homeowners.” While this alludes to what the post is about, it makes it hard to find among hundreds of other favorites you may have saved.
Most web surfers save stuff by topic/category. So if your post is about home foreclosure, that should be somewhere in the title – preferably at the beginning so that it can be filed under “foreclosure,” “home foreclosure,” etc.
See what I mean?
Sponsored Link: Rank Higher Easily — Learn More
Don’t Make This Headline Writing Mistake
Many make the mistake of trying to be cute, funny, etc. when writing headlines. Don’t. Remember search engines don’t have a sense of humor and can’t “read” double entendres or other twists of language like humans can.
And, while you’re always writing for humans, it’s search engines (machines, robots) that categorize the words you put in – so keep it simple.
How to SEO Headlines
This is very easy to do.
i) Use a highly relevant, ideally high-traffic keyword phrase in your title. Note: “High traffic” depends on many things – ie, the niche, the competition, etc. The point is to write your headlines with a specific keyword phrase in mind.
ii) Position keyword phrase in headline: Ideally, you’d want to start the headline with that phrase. For example if your post is about how to repair credit, the headline of your post should start with a keyword phrase that states this, eg, Repair Credit Easily.
Step 3: State a Benefit. This is probably the most often forgotten part of headline writing. Many will remember to SEO their copy and may even have a good idea about who they’re selling to (ie, have asked the questions in Step 1).
But, they’ll forget to tell the customer what they’ll gain. This is the benefit.
For example, the headline of this post is “SEO Copywriting Tips: Why Learning How to Write Headlines Can Increase Your Sales by 90%”. What’s the benefit? The prospect may learn how to increase sales by as much as 90% by clicking thru.
Wouldn’t that make you curious enough to want to click if you were wading through tons of search results?
There are tons of other things to grasp when it comes to learning how to write effective headlines, but if you keep these three tips in mind when you write your copy – you’ll be light years ahead of the competition – and on your way to significantly increasing sales.
SEO Copywriting Tips: 23 Questions Google Says SEO Copywriters Should Keep in Mind When Creating Content
SEO Copywriting: Google Changes that Affect SEO Writers
5 SEO Copywriting Tips for B2B Companies & Other SEO News
SEO Tips for Twitter: How to Optimize Your Tweets to Get More Google Traffic
P.S.: POST YOUR SEO WRITING JOBS, SOCIAL MEDIA JOBS & INTERNET MARKETING JOBS FREE
Find qualified talent for your SEO writing jobs, social media jobs and internet marketing jobs absolutely free. Simply send your ad to info[at]SeoWritingJobs.com. We will post it here, and in our weekly (Wednesday) newsletter.
P.P.S.: Ditch Your Job and Start a Successful Career as an SEO Copywriter? Get SEO Copywriting Training Today.
Find this post informative? Follow Us on Twitter.
Submit a Guest Post: This site and its parent site, InkwellEditorial.com, now accept guest posts. Get the guest post submission guidelines.
Summer is here: want to avoid freelance writing dry spells that usually come this time of year by making extra money as an affiliate marketer? Learn how to earn $50-$150/day online pretty seamlessly in the best-selling ebook, How to Make Money Placing Ads on Free Classified Ad Sites.
Copyright © 2011: All material on this site is copyright protected and cannot be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without my written consent (linking to is fine).