A well chosen SEO headline is critical for online content. It attracts readers’ attention, builds trust, and helps users find the information they need without wasting time. SEO headlines provide a vital link to your site’s content, attracting the attention of your target audience and drawing them to your website.

What is an SEO headline?

From an SEO point of view, your main SEO headline (H1 tag) provides important information about the content of your pages. When search engines select which links to display to users, a well-chosen headline ensures that your text is included among the top options.

Just remember, your online content is created for the benefit of your readers – you are not writing SEO headlines to appease search engines. It is easy to get focused on SEO and lose sight of the main objective of your articles – to inform, entertain, build trust and gain loyal readers.

This article will equip you with tactics for writing web headlines that appeal to both readers and search engines, and increase traffic to your site.

1. Begin with effective keywords.

Selecting appropriate keywords is fundamental to your SEO strategy. To brainstorm the best keywords, imagine what potential readers would type into the search bar when looking for your topic. What queries would your content satisfy? Try several word combinations and long tail keyword phrases, and type them into Google search, to see what search results come up.

If your website already has a semantic core – a set of words and phrases used throughout your website to attract search engines – you can select your keywords from that list. Otherwise, use Google Keyword Planner or Serpstat to check your keywords and their search volume. (Search volume is the number of anticipated searches using your keyword over a given period of time.)

You can also use long-tail keyword phrases. To select phrases, type your main keyword into Google and see what phrases pop up beneath the search bar. Also check to see which search phrases are suggested at the bottom of the page. Suggested searches are based on queries typed in by other users, which can give you a good idea of the types of phrases your target audience might use.

how to choose headline

2. Define your target audience, your primary goals, and your desired outcomes.

Create personas of your typical potential users. What are they looking for, and what are their interests? Define their demographics in terms of age, gender and location. Next, define your goals. What is the purpose of your site, and how will it satisfy users’ needs? Finally, decide what is most important to you in terms of building a user base. What outcomes would you like to see, today, tomorrow and in the future?

3. Incorporate numbers into your headings, with the words “top” or “best.”

Numbered lists can help organize your thoughts and provide readers with an easy checklist, saving them from having to scan long texts to find the information they need. Articles with numbered lists are very popular, and attract users’ attention. Headings like “Top 10 East Coast Amusement Parks” or “5 Best Blueberry Pie Recipes” let readers know what the article is about, and what type of content to expect.

Using digits in your headlines instead of writing out numbers grabs readers’ attention. Try to limit your main points to 10 or fewer. Research tells us that most readers are overwhelmed by more than 9 concepts at a time.

When creating your heading, use words like:

  • Reasons
  • Principles
  • Facts
  • Tips
  • Suggestions
  • Lessons
  • Ideas
  • Ways
  • Secrets
  • Tricks
  • Tools

For Example : “7 Reasons to Start Exercising Now”

4. Use time-tested and proven formulas to craft effective headings.

There are certain types of headlines that follow a formula. They tend to be popular with readers, and help search engines find your content. Change your headline formula from post to post, to add variety and keep your readers engaged. Common formulas include:

The secret to doing something

This formula gives readers the impression that they are about to learn something new and important that is not common knowledge.

SEO Headline Example: “The secret to building stronger client relationships.”

How to do something to attain a certain outcome

“How to” formulas promise readers that they will learn how to perform a specific task and what rewards to expect for their efforts.

SEO Headline Example: “How to write blog posts that entertain your readers”.

How to do something and avoid a certain outcome

A twist on the basic “how to” headline, this formula tells readers how to do something while avoiding certain undesirable results.

SEO Headline Example: “How to lose weight without feeling hungry”.

Do something like a celebrity

This formula invites readers to perform a task like someone well-known. Associating your brand with a celebrity can increase traffic and add credibility to your article. The header suggests that the reader can perform as well as the named professional.

SEO Headline Example: “Throw a football like Aaron Rodgers”.

What you need to know about

This formula is great for informative articles that help readers solve problems or make decisions. It implies that there are things the reader may not know about a subject, and prompts them to click on the link to become better informed.

SEO Headline Example: “What you need to know before choosing a physical therapist.”

5. Use the power of adjectives to connect emotionally with your readers

Adjectives are descriptive words that infuse emotion into your text and boost reader engagement. Use positive upbeat adjectives in your headlines and within your text to attract readers to your article and keep them on the page.

Some of the most effective adjectives include:

  • Surprising
  • Awesome
  • Effortles
  • Free
  • Proven
  • Powerful
  • Smart
  • Essential
  • Appealing
  • Critical
  • Huge
  • Searing
  • Revealing

6. Be honest with your readers

Headlines are a promise to the reader that the body of text will answer specific questions and provide particular information. Do not disappoint your readers with content that does not live up to the headline, or headlines that do not reflect the content.

Your headlines should:

  • Engage readers on an emotional level.

People want to feel something when reading online content. Use headlines that inspire strong emotions, whether positive or negative. Emotional engagement keeps readers on the page, encourages them to share your content, and brings them back to read future posts.

  • Set readers’ expectations.

Clickbait headlines that arouse users’ curiosity may get them to visit your site, but if the content does not live up to the hype, this tactic will do more harm than good, causing your rankings to plummet. Negative user feedback can be deadly, especially on social media outlets like Facebook. Clickbait headlines cause high bounce rates — an important metric that indicates low-quality content. It is best to be honest with your readers, and deliver content that satisfies what your headline promises. Quality content builds trust and improves your search rankings, helping your website to flourish.

In summary, your choice of headlines can have a powerful influence on both readers and search engines. Carefully crafted headlines will increase traffic, engage readers and prompt desirable actions.

Once you have written your article, go back and rethink your headlines. Do they still fit the body of your text and reflect the angle of your article? Tweak your headlines to reflect your content and prompt search engines to display your resource in response to user queries.