Learning the hard way how to write web content headlines

When I first started writing my theatre blog 11 years ago my headlines were rubbish.

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I was trying to be clever or witty, sometimes using puns or a play on words.

But the more I learned about writing online content, the more I realised my approach was entirely based on what worked in print rather than online.

My experience and background was magazine journalism after all.

An article in a magazine or newspaper has images, graphics, tables, box-outs, subheadings etc. which help grab attention.

And an article in a magazine may already have context.

If someone has picked up a copy of ‘Window Box Weekly’, they are probably interested or at least curious about window boxes.

Try to find your own content

A big test was trying to find my own theatre blog content using Google. I knew I’d reviewed a particular production, but my ‘clever’ headlines meant it wasn’t coming up in searches – certainly not on the first few pages of results.

For example, I saw a play called Grief by Mike Leigh, and the headline of my review was ‘Good Grief?’

See what I did there? It might work if the piece sat in the theatre review section of newspaper or magazine, alongside a production photo and a subhead.

But out of context and with just two words to go on, it didn’t work so well.

Getting savvier about online search

As I started to understand how people find stuff to read online (search engines, social media etc.), I realised my headline style needed to change so that people could find my blog posts.

And know what they were about from the headline.

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Want people to stop scrolling and click on your B2B content?

Promoting your content on social media can be a great way of increasing engagement with your B2B content but there is an art to writing posts that get people to stop scrolling and click through to your content.

A row of people in suits all looking at their smart phones - picture is a close up of their hands.
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Think of LinkedIn or Twitter as like a huge crowd with everyone shouting to be heard. You need to craft a few sentences that stand out and grab attention.

It’s not simply a case telling people you’ve written something and they will click through and read.

Doing this just lets down all the hard work you put into your creating your B2B content.

Look at it this way. If you were selling a book door to door, you wouldn’t simply say: “I have a book, do you want to buy it?”

You’d talk about what was in the book and why it was interesting or useful.

And yet it isn’t unusual to see a social media post that says something like: ‘Our latest report on the office market is out’.

Now context, the business brand or person writing the post might help.

But it may not.

And if you are relying solely on who you are to ‘sell’ your content to potential readers, then you are missing out.

Hint: People may not know who you are or have read anything you’ve written before.

You want to make people stop and pay attention and to do that you need to capture their interest or intrigue about your content, so people want to click through and read it.

Here are some ideas for how you can do that:

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Unlocking the benefits of regular B2B content – and my goal for 2021

It’s been two years since I set myself a goal of writing regular blog content here on my business website but like a lot of New Year’s Resolutions, it fell by the wayside.

I knew I needed to blog regularly because it is good for business, helping to build authority and traffic for my website. And I also knew I should practice what I preach.

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But it wasn’t until a lightbulb moment in September last year that I was finally on the road to achieving that goal – and as a result, it’s unlocked a new content marketing opportunity for 2021.

Up until last Autumn, my blog post writing was sporadic at best with some months going past without publishing anything at all.

It meant my web content wasn’t delivering with no discernible rise in traffic or engagement. And few business leads came from my website.

Content ideas weren’t the problem as I was publishing regularly on social media – LinkedIn – and getting good results.

So what changed? The spur – or perhaps kick up the backside – was a conversation with a fellow freelancer who refocused my B2B content strategy.

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Are you marketing your content effectively?

Creating regular content whether it is thought leaders, blog posts, client newsletters, videos or podcasts takes time but sometimes how that content finds its audience can get overlooked.

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All the value and hard work get lost because the content isn’t presented in a way that entices people to read, watch or listen.

There are different avenues for putting content in front of people such as email lists and social media and you shouldn’t just rely on one.

However, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.

It is not enough to just tell people you’ve written something or got a new podcast episode, you’ve got to give them a reason to invest time in consuming that content.

You need to intrigue and tell them what value it has to them.

And there are lots of different ways of doing that.

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Quick tip: How to make online content more readable

Here’s a simple tip.

It’s for making your content more readable.

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Add in some paragraphs. 😮

No seriously, add in some paragraphs.

Give your sentences some space.

It doesn’t matter if your content is only a few sentences.

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