Hey! Grab Attention with Headlines

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.

Dog chasing a yellow ball

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.

Website Copy That Converts Checklist: Headlines

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

Via Giphy

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?

HeadlinesYawn. See you later, gonna go check Facebook.

Headline Optimization for Simplified ConversionAre 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 IgnoreI may stick around to learn more about this, if Facebook is slow.

Hey! Grab Attention with HeadlinesKelley’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.

Too cute, in an appropriate way

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.

cat high five

Like this post? Read the first two in the series:

Target Pain Points to Make the Sale

Keywords 101

Do you need help with writing or rewriting website copy?  Email me! hello@kelleygardiner.com

Let’s get more clients in the door.

If you liked that blog post, you would looooove my email newsletter.

It goes out once a month or so, and it’s a short and sweet way to keep up with the latest in business communications.

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Keywords 101

We’re back at it with our blog series based on the 18 Must-Haves for Website Copy That Converts checklist. If you haven’t downloaded it yet, might as well go for it now.

#2 on the list: Select a mix of short and long-tail keywords to weave into text.

Today, we’ll go very briefly over keywords.

Why? In short, optimizing your keywords will help your business show up in internet searches.

Shaggy teeny dog with text overlay

This subject can be a bit of a yawner, I know, for non-techie types. But if* you want to show up in these searches, you’ll need to put a little bit of work into the front end. We’ll try to make this intro quick, fun, and actionable.

*Wait… what do you mean, *IF* I want to show up in these searches?

Some people don’t care as much about SEO. Maybe you’d prefer not to get every rando on the internet emailing you to ask you for a quote. Instead of gathering leads via your website, you’re trying to convert warm leads once they get there.

For the rest of us… KEYWORDS!

Keyword 101

What the heck is a keyword?

Make a cup of coffee and sit down here for a moment. I’m here to tell you about a story about a penguin, a panda, and a hummingbird.

It is not nearly as cute as it sounds.

When someone makes a search on Google, Google takes a look at everything the company has indexed, all across the internet, and uses its algorithm to give the user back the most pertinent information. That’s why we use Google—because it works. Most of the time.

Penguin, Panda, Hummingbird, and Fred (yes, Fred) are all code names for Google algorithms, which are being tweaked and changed all the time—maybe once or twice a month. Google doesn’t always announce changes.

Red panda

You know how this works. When someone searches for “cat photographer,” a number of websites pop up. In this case, “cat photographer” is a search term. If you want that search term to find your delightful internet home, you use “cat photographer” on your website as one of your keywords.

Long-tail and short-tail keywords

There are two kinds of keywords: long and short.

Long-tail keywords are… longer. They’re a string of words. They’re searched less often, but have higher conversion rates.

So, maybe 100 people search this term in a month, but many of those 100 people are doing specific searches that mean they’re ready to buy.

Think: best cat photographer in Portland, Oregon

Short-tail keywords are… short. There’s a ton of competition across the internet, and your conversion percentage will be much lower.

People are searching for these terms might be looking for something unrelated to what you do. But, hey, they’re easy to sprinkle throughout your site.

Think: photographer

Figure out the type of traffic you’re looking for, and plan your mix of short and long-tail keywords accordingly.

Keyword Research

I’m not even going to pretend like I’m the best person to talk to about this.

Check out a couple of beginners’ guides. Here’s one for WordPress.

And so many more you can google. The point? Start thinking about what keywords you want to rank for BEFORE you start writing.

You can pay people money to do this for you if you like.

Make a list

Still on board?

You have:

  • thought about what kinds of traffic you’d like
  • did some keyword research to find long and short keywords, and
  • put them all in a neat and tidy list

Maybe a spreadsheet. I do love a good spreadsheet.

Cat sitting on a computer lol

And yet…

Put away the list and start writing

I know, I’m sending you mixed messages. Yes, you’ll need to know what keywords you want to rank for before you start writing the bulk of your project. But. Don’t worry about putting those actual keywords in until your second or third draft.

Your copy needs to be written with your ideal client in mind. One perfect client who loves you dearly, pays on time, and sends you chocolates on your birthday. Write to her. Sell to her.

Make things clear. Or, make things weird on the first draft, a little better on the second, and clear on the third.

You’ll have the opportunity to put those keywords in later, when you’re fine-tuning the message.

Go back to that list of keywords

Once you’ve written everything, go back to your list and make sure all those keywords are included. Don’t force it. Keep it natural. If I were putting BEST PORTLAND OREGON COPYWRITER in every other paragraph, you’d be very aware of that instead of my message. The first goal is to be useful to your clients, prospects, and hot leads.

That’s it! Told you we’d keep it short(ish). If you’d like to do some extra reading on the subject, here’s some food for thought:

SEO Copywriting Ultimate Guide from Yoast.

Don’t load your copy with keywords, says Neil Patel. Sprinkle and wave, baby.

Most Massive SEO Copywriting Guide from CoSchedule. Maybe save this one for when you break your leg and can’t move for a few weeks. (Partially kidding.)

Need help wrapping your brain around all this? Let’s talk! I can write it for you, or coach you through finding a strategy.


If you liked that blog post, you would looooove my email newsletter.

It goes out once a month or so, and it’s a short and sweet way to keep up with the latest in business communications.

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