Headlines are important. They attract people to read the rest of your content. They make sure to engage your audience, providing you that user activity your website needs. They make sure your article gets shared around the web. Or do they? Then why does 89% of articles in the entire web get less than 100 shares?
China is the single most populated country in the world. China governs over 1.3 billion people. Even so, they experience around 43,835 newborn babies every day. And you know what? We consider China as overpopulated.
The internet has over 2.9 billion people in population, and has over 92,000 articles produced each day and counting. If you think China has problems, think again. The internet is over populated and the crap content floating around is many.
Your article’s headline can be so easily drowned out.
Writing awesome headlines is important. It’s pretty much the only way your article can get legitimate readers, shares, links, and user activity. It’s also overlooked and downright neglected (the pie chart data says so). So here are some simple gems that you can take home to your blog and start the process of weaving awesome headlines.
A/B/n Testing Titles
There’s no better way to verify a headline’s effectivity than data. AppSumo recently ran a contest entitled “Which headline won?” It’s basically a contest wherein 700 people submitted their guesses on which headline would perform best out of those that AppSumo listed.
The winning headlines are bolded below:
1. Article about blog growth
- A. How I used this blog to replace my day job
- B. How I grew this blog from $100/m to a full-time income
- C. How to make money with a blog
2. Adobe Creative Cloud Announcement
- A. The Updated Creative Cloud Video Apps Are Finally Here – Download Them Today!
- B. Adobe Releases Creative Cloud 2014 – Download the Updated Apps Today!
3. World Cup
- A. 3 Ways to Use The World Cup for your Brand
- B. How to use Dr. Dre and Neymar to promote your products
- C. 3 Ways for your brand to survive the World Cup hiatus
- A. How Do You Begin Building a Partnership with an Introvert?
- B. How To Assist An Introvert
- C. How do you build a relationship with a reserved boss?
- D. 5 Quick Tips For Assistants to an Introvert
5. KingSumo Headlines
- A. Are you neglecting the most important part of your blog?
- B. KingSumo Headlines
- C. Are your headlines driving away your readers?
- D. This title is optimized for traffic, is yours?
- E. Headlines are the most important part of your website
- F. Get 20% more traffic per article without extra work
To make the long story short, with 700 people submitting their guesses, they were ALL WRONG. Not one of them guessed a headline right. And that’s because as people, we are affected by words, emotions, history, DNA – everything but data.
However, in the real world, it’s the data that counts.
I happened to stumble upon an awesome WordPress plugin called Title Experiments that tells you which of your titles get more attention. All you need to do is enter your title and some variations of it and see how each performs over time. Here’s a sneak peek of how one of our blog entries performed:
The variation title greatly outperformed the original title (according to the plugin’s algorithm) by 730%. So the plugin automatically allocated majority of SEO Hacker’s readers to see the variation title instead of the original one to garner more click-throughs.
It’s interesting to note that you can do more than an A/B test (one original, one variation). You can do an A/B/n test (one original, multiple variations). Such as this:
I recommend keeping the test to A/B/C tops. Any more than that may skew your data and keep you undecided on which one to use with finality.
Takeaway: Interesting plugin eh? Get it here.
Chances are, there’s a huge amount of time given to you before you publish your article. In the age of editorial calendars and social media, you can’t be too careful with publishing headlines. One wrong headline and your entire content goes down the drain.
Testing a title before it goes live is arguably the best way to ensure your title’s click-through success. We used a free microsurvey tool called Qeryz to know which title people would be most attracted to click. In order to keep the purity of the data gathered, we randomized the order of the choices. We also made sure to keep users from answering more than once in a 24-hour period as well as give users the option to minimize the Qeryz survey once they have already answered it in the survey campaign duration.
Here are the results:
As you can see, the test gave good insights as to which title will most likely see better click-throughs compared to its variations. The result from the Title Experiments WordPress plugin wasn’t too far from the precursor test.
Takeaway: Precursor title testing is a lifesaver. The Title Experiments plugin is a tool that assumes you have already published the article – hence, blasting your title regardless of its click-through rate effectivity out to your email list, social media platforms, etc. Precursor title testing assures you that you are publishing your article with the best title possible while Title Experiments verifies that fact.
Sign up for your free Qeryz account here.
Get the Qeryz WordPress plugin here.
Use the List Strategy
Garrett Moon’s latest study shows that a list post gets a whopping 11.10% chance to be shared compared to all the other choices out there. Check out the stats:
It’s interesting to note that absolutely implicit words like ‘ The Most‘ and explanation implicit words like ‘Why‘ get the least chances of being shared. And yet a lot of people use these headlines like it had the Midas touch.
However, Garrett also notes that there are certain words that make a list post much more shared. Those words consist of ” Things“, “Reasons“, “Should“, and “Every” and its combinations. Here’s an example:
- 5 Things You Can Do To Write Better Headlines
- 4 Reasons You Should Wash Your Hair Every Day
- 8 Things Every Mom Says To Her Kids
Takeaway: Try incorporating these words to your next list headline experiments. See what happens.
People are emotional beings. So if you want to play your cards right, your headlines have to touch base emotionally. Good for you there’s a tool to measure that.
I know it doesn’t look too decorated but the Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer tool does its job. Put in your best headline there and you’ll realize, it’s not a walk in the park. And that’s why big publications like the Huffington Post, Forbes.com and other such sites have full-time editors and copywriters in their team that do nothing but optimize headlines.
You and I don’t have that much luxury to iterate through tons of titles.
We can almost swear that if you get a score of 40% or higher with this tool, you’re well on your way to virality. Check out how it rated our last entry’s A/B titles:
This is the original title with a 12% Click-through rate.
And we have a winner! It seems that the Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer tool and Title Experiments WordPress plugin pretty much agree with each other.
Takeaway: Go ahead. Give it a spin – Click here.
These are 4 extremely easy ways to optimize your headlines and increase your click-throughs. I assure you, the time it takes to publish the right headline is well worth the wait. Tell me how your next headline does for you in the comments below!