Why It's So Important To Use Compelling Headlines On Your Radio Station's Blog
January 12, 2016
As I help radio stations implement digital Content Marketing strategies, I consistently see an area where they can improve their blogs: in the titles they give the individual posts.
These might seem like a trivial detail, but in fact they're extremely important. To understand why, here's a quick refresher on how Content Marketing, the strategy we're going to use to tie all of our digital tools together, works:
First, we create online content. This content can be text, video, or audio, but it will all be housed in our radio station's blog. We want to use three channels to share that content: social media, search engines, and our own airwaves. This drives people back to the content on our website. Once they're there, we can encourage them to complete a goal, such as sign up for the email list or enter a contest.
This short video will illustrate the strategy:
Well-written headlines are crucial to this strategy. Why? Because when a blogpost is shared on a social network, displayed in search engine results, or mentioned on the air, it is usually the key piece of information people use to decide whether or not they want to click through and read the rest of the content. A well-written title will attract people back to our site; a poorly written one will not. In short, headlines are how we get people from where they are to where we want them to be.
So what makes for a good blogpost title? Here are some features:
1. Good headlines tell people what the post is about.
Avoid getting too artsy with the headlines. To Kill a Mockingbird is a great title for a literary masterpiece, but not for a blogpost.
We need to include the post's keywords in the title. If we're writing about Justin Bieber, Justin Bieber's name should appear in the headline. This is important not only for search engine algorithms, which will now show the article when people search for "Justin Bieber," but also for humans who want to know what they're going to get if they click on a link.
2. Good headlines leave enough mystery to entice people to click.
We want to intrigue people without giving away the store. In other words, we want to tell them what the blogpost is about without telling them so much that they don't need to read any more than the title. There are phrases that can help with this:
- "How to..."
- "The Secret Behind..."
- "The Real Reason Why..."
- "The Truth About..."
3. Good headlines make sense out of context.
Often, content creators forget that the first time people see their headline may not be on their website, where there are lots of surrounding cues to give the article context. Instead, people may first encounter our blogpost's title in a Facebook post, a tweet, an RSS reader, or an email. Often we can't control the other content that will surround it. If your blogpost appears in my Facebook newsfeed, it will be crammed between my friend's baby photos, Star Wars critiques, and political rantings. So we need to make sure that our headlines make sense even without context.
4. Shorter is better.
As with on-air breaks, word economy is key when writing headlines for blogposts. Many experts say that the ideal title length is seven words or less. You want to make sure that your headlines are not cut off in tweets (140 characters, and you usually want to leave at least 25 characters free for easy retweeting) or Google search results (under 55 characters recommended).
5. Good headlines use appropriate grammar and punctuation.
I often see inconsistent styles on different posts in the same blog. Don't use abbreviations. Capitalize consistently. Avoid emojis. If you really can't resist the temptation to use an exclamation point, limit it to just one.
NEXT STEP: With a quick Google search, you can find tons of tips for writing compelling blog headlines. Do some homework and establish some guidelines for writing headlines for your station's blog. Before long, you should see an improvement in your site's incoming traffic.