A lot of beginner blog posts scan like an academic journal – lots of text, with no visible breaks. The way people actually absorb ideas, though, is non-linear and in chunks. The simplest step for making your posts more effective, is to use headlines throughout each blog post.
Other than the closing paragraph and the lead-in paragraph (which already comes after the post title), you can and should have a headline for every paragraph or so in your posts. Think of it like this: if you can’t sum a paragraph up in a single headline, it’s probably content not worth including. Also, most people scan or skim first, then decide whether to zoom in and read more closely. Headlines facilitate the way your audience actually reads your posts. That means they should be ubiquitous – they should occur throughout the writing.
Make Your Headlines Self-Sufficient
Good headlines are quotable and can easily stand alone. If the rest of the text were omitted, the headlines alone would tell the story or make the case. Strong headlines omit generalities and fluff – they are the whole post, whittled down to a handful of sentences, lending it a coherent structure that can be expanded upon within the paragraphs.
Strip Your Headlines of Gimmicks and Private Goals
It’s easier to free your headlines for self-sufficient service to the reader and the post if each headline has no ulterior motive, no hidden cards, nothing to manipulate. It stands alone as a complete idea, without depending on other ideas. It is just what it is; it’s authentic. An authentic headline doesn’t sound salesy, ‘tricksy’, or otherwise inauthentic.
Make Each Headline an Assertion or Imperative
Make your headlines complete sentences – either assertion or imperative. An assertion is a statement of fact: x is y, or x is not y. An imperative is an instruction or advice: do this, or don’t do that. Powerful headlines emerge when you structure them the way people actually communicate and organize ideas. That also means headlines should be on point. An on-point headline is one that corresponds closely to what the segment it represents is actually asserting or advising.
Make Your Headlines Grabby
Of course, “grabby” isn’t a technical term – it’s a way of saying ‘simultaneously provocative or evocative, on-point, and authentic’. A provocative or evocative headline is a bit more interesting than a technical summary. It’s not a sack-dress, it’s a curvy, alluring comment with a bit of flare. Grabby headlines inspire us the way we actually respond to something new. We respond with more interest when something grabs or arrests our attention with flavor, rather than just delivering an unadorned utility of nourishing our bodies, emotions, or intellect.
Do Basic Search Optimization on Your Headlines
Keep the main title of your post 160 characters or less, because that’s all search engines (and some social media venues) show anyway. Headlines throughout the post should be roughly no longer than the post title, so they don’t seem unwieldy. Also, to let search engines (and human readers) know that headlines are summarizing the most relevant parts of your post, make sure your headlines are in bold, italic, or set to be true HTML headlines (e.g. H2), if you know how in your blog editor. Word your headline in such a way that you keep your main idea as close to the beginning of the headline as possible. There are no real tricks; search engines will index a post better if you make your headlines what headlines actually are, which is are quickly seen and rapidly parsed summaries of the chunk of information or advice you’re about to provide.
Good headlines are thought organizing features and reading helps. They are grabby, on-point, ubiquitous, authentic and self-sufficient. The most basic reason for using headlines throughout your blog posts is to craft your posts in the way people actually read them, and according to the way people actually communicate information and advice, accounting for how they actually respond to new ideas or information. Contact MadPipe for additional help to improve your content, content strategy, and overall digital marketing.