With 2.8 million comments posted on Reddit daily, crafting a catchy, attention-grabbing headline that is directly relevant to your target community is the key to rising above the noise and capturing your audience’s attention.
With the level of competition that your post will be contending with, your headline needs to instantly resonate with the reader. The headline sets the tone for your post. So, if the headline is boring and predictable, then people are going to jump to the conclusion that your post is going to be boring and predictable too.
It is important to emphasize the impact your post will have on the lives of your audience, without beating about the bush. People will only click through to read your post if it is directly relevant to them, connects with their emotions and will add value to their lives.
Here are examples of good headlines:
- Something that will help them solve a problem such as: ‘The proper way to tie a bow tie’ or ‘How to tell if you’ve been exposed to asbestos’. Or
- Tips that will help them personally or professionally: How to land your dream job in 30 days. Or
- Something to inform them about an issue that is relevant to them: Rail crew shortages on the London to Manchester route are expected to lead to severe disruption. Or
- Teach them something valuable: How to see tomorrow’s solar eclipse.
Intimately understanding your target community should be your first priority. Understanding the motivations and needs of your clientele is crucial in online marketing, and nowhere is this more important than the main headline. This will help you figure out what is really important to them so that you can describe how it is going to benefit them directly.
Before you start working on your headline:
- Finish writing your post. It will be a lot easier to emphasize the emotionally driven benefits in a compelling title.
- Use niche-related keywords in your posts that are highly relevant to what your target audience is searching for the most.
- Research headlines that have received the most engagement within your target community by analyzing posts in the top tab. You need to understand what it was about those headlines that generated upvotes, comments and shares, and then incorporate those insights into your headlines.
- Perform keyword research. Use free keyword tools such as Google Keyword Planner and Ubersuggest.org to identify the most relevant, niche-related keywords that have the largest search volume. Where appropriate, use the exact keywords as the title of your post. For example, if you’re in the finance niche and you find that “how to save money for a rainy day” has a tremendous amount of search volume, use the keyword as your title.
Here are 10 rules to follow when writing good headlines:
1. Aim to only appeal only to your target audience.
You need to laser focus your headline directly on the core target audience. Don’t try to appeal to everyone or you risk diluting your message to potentially appeal to no one. Sometimes, if the headline is compelling enough, people will actually upvote the post before they click through to read it.
And this is what can happen when you create posts that connect with the emotions of your audience. Always keep in mind that you’re writing for a specific audience. You need to craft your headlines in a way that is going to be irresistible to only that audience.
2. Make an instant, emotional connection.
And you can do that by creating posts that provide clear value. This means your headlines need to be benefit driven and speak directly to the goals, problems, fears and the aspirations of our target audience. Here’s an example of a post that made a powerful instant connection and you can see why from the level of engagement that the post received:
If the post doesn’t have an emotional benefit, then it’s probably not going to resonate with your target audience. Consider the following example: say I’ve just written a post that discusses the top 10 ways a user can optimize their AdWords account. Now, for the headline, one option is to use something like, 10 Ways to Optimize Your Google AdWords Account. Now this headline is a good headline because that’s the value that is being delivered in the post.
However, we can make the headline much more compelling by making it about the value that the reader is going to get from the post. Something like: Increase Your Google Ads ROI For With 11 Awesome Tips. With this type of headline, your target audience can immediately see how that article will add value to their lives just by reading the headline.
You need to tap into the reader’s “What’s in it for me?” factor. You need to get into their heads, their hearts an minds. Keep in mind that your headlines are competing with hundreds of others that your target audience has already been exposed to, so you need our target audience to immediately see what’s in it for them.
3. Spark curiosity into your headline to drive engagement.
Find a way to spark instant curiosity in your headline and make it compelling to read. According to research, this is exactly why clickbait headlines that start with “Need [x]? Here’s why” or “The one thing that will make you…” work really well and get the most clicks.
However, it is important to keep in mind that Redditors hate gimmicks. You need to add value in the body of the post and make sure that the content delivers on the value promised in the headline.
If the reader feels tricked into clicking a headline, you’re going to get a ton of downvotes and negative comments. So, only use curiosity only if it makes perfect sense to do so.
Here’s a real life example. There was a study into the popularity of email, and the headline was: New Study Shows Email Is Popular and Effective. However, that is just not compelling enough to grab attention. Instead of simply talking about the popularity and effectiveness of email, this headline can be improved by adding curiosity into the headline. For example: 73 percent of Millennials Prefer Email. Here’s Why Email Marketing Is the Number One Way to Generate Leads.
4. Use Longer Titles.
You need to be clear, unequivocal and ultra-specific in your headline so that people understand exactly what to expect when they click it. Write headlines that give clarity to what is in the post, and keep the language simple and clear. Leave no ambiguity as to what is included in the post.
Longer titles tend to generate more engagement because using more words allow us to be more engaging and more persuasive. So try to use as much of the 300 characters that you’re allocated as possible.
5. Inject your headline with a sense of urgency.
In a lot of cases, unless you infuse your headlines with a sense of urgency, your target audience are likely to bookmark or put off reading your content “until later” when they are less busy. In most cases, they never come back to it again. When’s the last time YOU looked through your bookmarks? Exactly.
So the best way to get a reader to read your article is to get them to read it right now. Not later on when they have some spare time. How can you create that sense of urgency? Well, the best way to do that is to convince them there’s information in the post that just can’t wait. Great examples of headlines infused with urgency include: “Tax Laws Change on Jan. 31–Are You Ready?” “14 Huge Mistakes That Even Seasoned Property Investors Make.”
6. Work numbers into the headline.
According to an analysis of 100 million headlines by Buzzsumo, numbers in headlines generate 73% more engagement than headlines without numbers. This is because numbered titles almost always link to a list post, which are very popular with users.
Find a way to work numbers into some of your headlines whenever possible. Studies have also shown that people click on odd-numbered headlines 20% more times than even numbered headlines. Furthermore, women like numbered headlines more than men. So, if your post is aimed at females, then you may want to use numbered titles in every 2 out of 3 posts.
7. Always include your most important target keywords.
You want your readers to associate you with your most important keywords. It plays a psychological role in communicating to potential readers that your post is all about what they are searching for. If you are interested in a particular subject, you will always notice when a word relating to the topic is mentioned in the headline of a post.
The word will almost jump out at you because, as humans, we have a built-in radar to pick up on words that we are interested in. It is therefore important to make a list of the most important keywords in your industry and get into the habit of incorporating them into the headlines of every relevant post you create. With time, your audience will begin to subconsciously associate you with those keywords.
8. Ask engaging questions.
‘Why’ questions can be powerful, because they challenge readers to think before reading further. When you ask questions in the headline, you’re making the reader stop and think.
Make them want to answer the question by asking questions that they cannot easily answer with a ‘NO’. Questions are some of the most popular headlines, so get into the habit of crafting your headlines as thoughtful and intriguing questions.
9. Avoid Clickbait.
Clickbait works really well in the real world. That’s why they’re called clickbait. They are effective at drawing the click from users. However, Redditors are unique. They have trained themselves to avoid anything that sounds remotely like clickbait.
Clickbait generally includes sensational or misleading headlines that are specifically designed to increase the clickthrough rate of that piece of content, whether its a video or article.
The problem with clickbait headlines is that they never quite live up to the drama they promised, leaving the reader disappointed and angry. And Redditors will vent that anger on you in the comments. Once you’ve damaged your credibility on Reddit, it’s nearly impossible to regain it. So, throw away everything you’ve learned about blog headlines because they don’t work particularly well on Reddit.
10. Relevance is key.
Make sure that the post you’re submitting is relevant to the subreddit you are submitting it to. If your submission is out of place, it will not get the traction you’re looking for and may even get deleted.