Nowhere is it easier for blog content writers to screw up than in your headline. And nowhere is it more important not to screw up.
After all, without a click you’re just talking to an empty room. Many of the words professional blog writers, content marketers, and SEO consultants used to bank on for loads of clicks no longer work.
Hubspot and Outbrain teamed up and analyzed data from a sample of 3.3 million paid link headlines. Their analysis looked at (among other data) the clickthrough rate of these headlines. Clickthrough rate (CTR) is a measure of how many people who saw your title actually clicked on it.
They found that many popular terms have fallen out of favor.
- Headline including the words “how to,” “tips,” “easy,” and “simple,” all had over 40% less clicks.
- Headlines with “you, your” and “you’re” performed 36% worse in CTR.
- “Always” and “Best” showed a 14% reduction in clicks.
There’s far more in their free eBook on writing better headlines, including what words to include to improve CTR.
A word of caution on CTR—it’s not the be all end all.
Ultimately, you want your blog to make the reader take action. To extend on my metaphor, with high CTR but low conversion, the room you’re talking to might be full, but no one is listening.
That’s where user engagement and conversion rates come into play.
You measure user engagement by how long a user stays on your site and if they interact with other content. A conversion means you’ve convinced your reader to act—they downloaded your eBook, subscribed to your email list, or bought a product.
To decide on an optimal headline, you must determine what you want to optimize for—CTR, user engagement, or conversion rates.
Some words lead to lower clickthrough rates, but result in better engagement or conversion. And sometimes the opposite is true, a word that increases CTR may decrease engagement or conversion.
Hubspot found that while the word “amazing” reduced CTR, it also increased user engagement. Similarly, while including “need” in a headline reduced CTR by 44%, it increased conversion rates by 171% compared to headlines that didn’t have the word.
Good blog content writers have a purpose
By knowing the purpose (exposure, educational, promotional, etc.) you can craft an effective headline and avoid all the old, tired words blog content writers have overused.