We’re here today as part of the 18 Must-Haves for Website Copy That Converts checklist series. Go ahead and grab the checklist now so you can follow along.
Yep, just click that link and follow the instructions.
Today we’re talking headlines!
Headlines: Should create curiosity and be easily understood at a glance
Easy, right? Let’s get to it.
Why are headlines important?
I have to tell you something about writing website copy that you might not like, after all this work/money you’re putting into it…
People don’t read.
If this is a shock to you, think about the way you glean information from a website you’ve never been to before. You probably scan. You see what’s relevant to you, and if something catches your attention, you’ll read more deeply.
One study said that 28% of copy is read. (Lots of interesting stuff in this article, btw, if you’re in the mood for… you know… reading.)
So, people are scanning from top to bottom, in an “F” shape, checking anything that pops out if it’s relevant or intriguing.
What the heck is a headline, anyway?
For our purposes, let’s think about any headings on your website. The big words that give your website structure. Some sites might have just one heading on each page, and some might have a bunch.
This page has a bunch, but most of your web pages won’t be 500+ words like this blog post is.
Headlines Should Create Curiosity
You don’t have much time to convince someone to stay on your website (about 15 seconds, if you’re lucky), let alone to follow your call to action. Your headlines, design, and visuals need to do a lot of heavy lifting to convince busy and distracted people to stick around.
Good headlines will pique curiosity. Let’s look at a a few examples. Which one would catch your attention?
Headlines—Yawn. See you later, gonna go check Facebook.
Headline Optimization for Simplified Conversion—Are you talking to me as a business owner? You must be talking to someone who enjoys throwing jargon around, and I’m only interested in getting clients and pretending I don’t spend as much time on Facebook.
Headlines Potential Clients Can’t Ignore—I may stick around to learn more about this, if Facebook is slow.
Hey! Grab Attention with Headlines—Kelley’s at it again, isn’t she? She usually has pictures of dogs, though.
Try to stay away from “clickbait” titles that may elicit an emotional reaction, but probably won’t attract your ideal customer.
You know clickbait when you see it: One Golden Retriever Licks Its Chops, and You’ll Never Guess What Happens Next
Headlines Should Be Easily Understood at a Glance
Yes, headlines should create interest, but don’t get too cute, friends.
We’ve already established that people don’t read. Headlines must convey meaning in the few seconds you have to convince your prospect to stick around.
So, yes, your headlines had better be clear, especially on home pages and—holy crap, even more so—landing pages. (Sing it with me: Home pages are not landing pages!)
Headlines create organization
One of the hardest parts of writing is finding the best structure for your many wise thoughts and ideas.
Headlines and headers are the steel beams of your copy structure. Just like those topic sentences in five-paragraph essays you wrote in high school, your headlines announce what’s coming.
Be clear to everyone
Stay away from jargon, unless you’re absolutely sure that your audience knows what you’re talking about. If you’re not sure, ask a friend from outside your industry to read through your website. Sometimes you forget what a subject matter expert you really are.
And you are.
Like this post? Read the first two in the series:
Do you need help with writing or rewriting website copy? Email me! firstname.lastname@example.org
Let’s get more clients in the door.
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