Hey, Detroit! Hey, Wolfsburg! Hey, Toyota City! Think you know how to get noticed? Let’s see if you’re right. In this week’s Leadfoot post, we’ll look at headline-making best practices. And by that I don’t mean launching new models or issuing recalls or committing scandalous acts (hello, Volkswagen). Or anything else that might get you on the cover of Car & Driver or the front page of the LA Times. No, this is SO much simpler.
This is about the golden rules of headline writing for blogs and Twitter. Other than keywords, headlines are the most important element in any blog post. Why? Because if your readers use syndication tools to scan the news, they’re sifting through a lot of blog posts. So your headline is the first thing they’ll see, and the biggest deciding factor in whether they’ll read on.
Steak + Sizzle = Sales
Great headlines get clicked, tweeted, retweeted – and, even more important, they turn into sales. In fact, according to tests by Marketing Experiments, an Internet-based research lab that conducts experiments in optimizing sales and marketing processes, compelling headlines will:
· Increase conversion rates by 73%
· Get read by 8 out of 10 people
· Perform 259% better than bad headlines
Top-ranked content marketing influencer and social media expert Jeff Bullas says we can thank Twitter’s 140-character count for highlighting the importance of writing short, pithy, “mind-blowing” headlines. Twitter, he contends, “has brought back the art of the headline.”
Great headlines blend substance and style, otherwise known as “steak and sizzle.” Of course, writing great headlines is easier said than done. Says Mark Schaefer, one of the world’s foremost social media strategists and author of The Tao of Twitter, “headlines can be painful to write — it’s like ad copy. It has to be short and impactful.”
Or, to put it more plainly, Schaefer asks, “Are you more likely to enjoy and remember a post titled ‘An analysis of SEO implications for blogging’ or one titled, ‘How to Be a Google Whore’?”
What’s more, the most effective headlines should incorporate keywords and phrases people might be searching for.
Top Tricks of the Trade
Lucky for all of us, there are many tried-and-true techniques we can use to craft eye-catching, intriguing and SEO-optimized headlines. The following tips and tricks come from the utterly charming and highly informative blogging resource website, Blog Godown:
- Lists or Numbers. Example: “The 21 Worst Things To Have On Your Blog or Website”
- Questions. Example: “Bloggers: Are You Making this BIG Mistake?”
- Adjectives. Example: “7 Smashing Techniques to Pull Guest Authors to Your Blog”
- Slang. Example: “Kickass Alternative Commenting Systems for Bloggers”
- Personal Experience. Example: “Why I Won’t Follow Everyone on Twitter”
Jeff Bullas believes “great headlines grab you, shake you and demand your attention” and offers these additional techniques from Authority Blogger:
- Get What You Want (In Health, Wealth, Relationships, Time and Lifestyle). Example: “The Secret To Getting More Money For Your Property!”
- Crystal Ball and History Example: “10 Predictions on the Future of Social Media”
- Problems and Fears. Example: “Get Rid of Your Debt Once and For All”
- Fact, Fiction, Truth and Lies. Example: “Little Known Ways To Make Money On The Stock Exchange”
- How To, Tricks Of The Trade. Example: “How To Plan The Ultimate Holiday”
- Best and Worst. Example: “The 10 Worst Mistakes Made by Bloggers
Auto Industry Checkup
So, based on all this expert advice, I had to wonder: How are the auto industry bloggers doing? A quick scan of the headlines produced these five examples:
From the dealer blog for Capistrano Volkswagen: “What Happened to Mini Vader from “The Force” VW Commercial?”
★★★ 55 tweets, posted November 13, 2015
From bestride.com blog: “VW and Audi TDI Owners: Your Guide to Volkswagen’s TDI Crisis”
★★ 13 retweets, posted September 22, 2015
From the vwvortex.com blog: “Dr. Michael Steiner Becomes Group Compliance Commissioner”
★★★ 1,748 tweets, posted November 18, 2015
From Car Auto Daily: “2016 Volkswagen Beetle Dune: A Bit of Baja for the Bug”
★★★★★ 3,500 retweets in 2 hrs, posted November 22, 2015
From the New York Times:
“How Volkswagen Got Away with Diesel Deception”
★ 16 retweets, posted November 21, 2015
Hey, you! Yes, YOU, auto buyer, dealer, manufacturer, enthusiast – whether you’re in Michigan, Germany or Japan, you’re wise to follow these blogging best practices. Ready to make headlines?
Really enjoyed being in class with you this term, Betty. Good luck in all your future endeavors!
Thanks, John! Likewise. I’ve learned a ton from @Granelle and wish you all the best, too.
You provided some great tips and tricks here! I haven’t heard the positive feedback about Twitter, saying that it brought back the art of the headline and haven’t ever thought of it that way! However, this certainly is true. Users must choose their words carefully as they only have limited space to make a compelling post. Truth be told, I’ve always been a little bitter about Twitter, probably because it came out when I was in college and most posts were about drunken college parties – not my thing! Now that we are seeing it used more by businesses for advertising, I can frame it in my mind as a headline and maybe learn to have some more fun with it!
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Thanks, Anna! Glad my post gave you news you could use — and a fresh appreciation for Twitter. I’ve no doubt someone who’s “been a little bitter about Twitter” can have more fun with it. ; )
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Good points about headlines and keywords! There is definitely an art to coming up with good headlines that will produce the expected results. I have to agree that the mini Vader commercial is still one of my favorites.
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I really enjoyed your blog. Very informative and enjoyable! Nice mixture of bullets, copy, and pictures!! Great job!!
Elizabeth, This is a great post. Your page is beautiful and you follow your own advice. You have a great and slightly irreverent voice. Somethings makes me think you do this often. Great work and best of luck with the rest of the program.
Thanks, Richard! Yeah, I’ve been dabbling in writing for quite some time. Love the outlet this blog has provided. Thanks for reading and commenting. Best of luck to you, too!
Thank you, Nancy! I enjoyed yours as well and applaud your strength and candor in talking about your struggles with MS and cancer. I’m sure your book has been cathartic for you, but I think it will help others, too. Keep persevering and indulging in the joy of learning!
I am happy that you liked my blog (Blog Godown) and found my articles useful.
Thanks for your comment, Gautam, and I’m glad you approve my use of your blog. I am new to blogging and turned to your blog while doing research for a social media class I took in the fall. I found it very helpful. Thx!