Did that work? Well you’re reading this, so I guess it did! Now that I have your attention, let’s dive into the eye-catching, concise, and strategic topic of headline and heading writing, and blog language.
Use Effective Structure
We all know that there are many types of users that visit a website or blog. All of these users have different characteristics. One thing they all have in common is that they are hungry for information. The best way to fulfill this need is to implement the inverted pyramid structure into your blog. The order of information goes:
- Essential Information
The inverted pyramid structure delivers the essential information first. All of the essential information (who, what, where, when, why) should be located in the first paragraph. This structure draws readers in, encouraging them to read on, or to simply skim for the information they need.
- Additional Information
Following the essential information comes the additional information. This content supports the main content. While it is useful, it is below the essential information in the hierarchy of the inverted pyramid structure.
- Least Important Information
Save the least important information for the end of your blog. You already gave your reader the essential and supporting information, so if they don’t stay until the end, it is fine. However, the best scenario would be to keep your reader engaged until the very last line!
Write with Conversational Voice
After structuring your content, comes development. Before you can get into writing, you need to establish the why of your blog’s content. As you are strategizing your blog with the inverted pyramid structure, predict your users’ questions. After understanding why the reader may read your blog, and what they may want to learn from your blog, begin to write content that answers the anticipated questions. This is called conversational writing, and it actively engages your reader.
According to Zery’s, these are the dos and don’ts of conversational writing:
- Write in second-person active voice
- Use contractions
- Keep it simple
- Practice by reading conversational writing
- Break all the rules
- Write like you speak
- Use long sentences
Focus on writing in a plain language style and write directly to your audience. Use the word “you” to show that the blog is written for them. Make sure to write concise sentences that are straight to the point. According to valuablecontent.co, the job of your words is to engage, inspire, and reassure. Establishing those emotions in your writing will better hold the attention of your reader, giving them exactly what they came for.
How useful is your heading?
Yoast says, “Headings are signposts that guide readers through an article. Therefore, they should indicate what a section or paragraph is about. Otherwise, people won’t know what to expect.”
Make it informative
When writing your headings, make sure they are informative. They should properly prepare a reader for the information that follows. The main focus of your heading is the content.
Headings are used for navigation
Headings are also used for navigation purposes. The use of shortcuts allows those who are simply scanning for information, to go straight to the heading that will hold the content they need. If a heading is vague or misleading, the reader will get frustrated and most likely leave the page.
Your Headline needs to spark interest
“On average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest.”Writing Spaces Web Writing Style Guide (pg. 29)
If your headline doesn’t spark interest, who is going to want to read the actual content?! This is your first impression with a reader. If it isn’t compelling, it is time to implement one of these 7 tips for writing blog headlines:
- Reflect the actual value of the content
Right from the start, share with your reader exactly what they will learn from reading your blog. For example, How To Nail The Interview.
- Use words and phrases that actually resonate with your audience
If you have an understanding of your desired audience, you can make calculated decisions to determine which words or phrases will make your blog appeal to them. If your audience was college seniors, you might use, To Go To Graduate School or Not?
- Ask questions
What better way to catch the attention of your reader than to ask them a straight-forward question. For example, Is Your Network Protected?
- Use numbers
Numbers allow you to communicate concise, useful information that readers will perceive to be a quick read, which is perfect for everyone’s busy lifestyles. For example, 3 Easy Ways To Revamp Your Resume, doesn’t seem like an overwhelming read.
- Play around with visual structure
Impact BND says, “Using two-part headlines with a colon, parentheses, or brackets can add a dynamic feel to your content, tease the contents of the article, and provide further context to the value of your blog content. For example, WordPress Vs. Squarespace (Reviews/Ratings/Prices), uses parentheses to convey additional information, supporting the visual structure of the headline.
- Be concise and to the point
Great headlines are short and concise. Your headline should fall within the “character sweet-spot” of 40-49 characters. This means your headline will entice and attract readers, but not giveaway the “meat” of your piece. A short and sweet example would be, The Skill That’ll Set You Apart Among Applicants.
- Optimize for keywords and search performance
Get specific with your most valued keywords. Think about the language your audience would use when searching your topic, and rank your keywords accordingly. The headline, Best Blue Dog Beds for Smaller Dogs, offers product, animal, size, and color details that will help meet the various searches of your desired audience.
The Ethics of Headlines and Headings
While the goal is to attract and keep readers on your blog, how we bring them in matters. Honesty is critical, and your reader is trusting you to honor that. According to ONA Ethics, “Clickbait headlines, or social media posts that seek to deceive users into clicking on a story, are viewed with disdain in much of journalism.”
A flashy, somewhat-accurate headline may boost your page views and site traffic while situationally improving your metrics. However, it does not hold the same value as establishing loyalty by building your audience.
Don’t Forget to Review!
Now that you’ve constructed a blog that has an informative title, deliberate structure, and concise language, it is time to review it. Forge and Smith shared these three tools to improve the readability of your content:
The Hemingway Editor
The Hemingway Editor conducts a readability score test to best advise how to improve your content. But what’s a readability score test? A readability score is a computer-calculated rating that determines the readability of your content based on:
- Sentence structure
- Number of adverbs
- Instances of passive voice
- Length of paragraphs
- More items if you visit the site!
After you apply the suggestions, you are good to go!
Yoast SEO is a plugin that can be used directly in your WordPress CMS. While you are working, it will provide you with suggestions and a readability score.
Simple Words & Phrases
Simple Words & Phrases is a list of words you can use to help simplify language you have written for complex subjects. This tool can help to make your content easier for the reader to digest.
In conclusion, implement one or all of these tips next time you write a blog! Nobody is born an expert at creating catchy headlines, or writing with an active voice. We’re all learning, so give it a try! Happy writing!