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Before you begin writing a headline for a press release or blog post it’s important to remember that there’s fierce competition out there. For small companies, the competition is so intense that your content really has to shine to stand out. When drafting your press release, article or blog post, there’s so much to consider, from readability features to elements that can boost your SEO. Your headline can boost both your readability and your SEO if you develop it strategically. This is true regardless of what you’re writing about.

In order to ensure that your content reaches the target audience, you must create an engaging headline. To make this easier for you, we consulted a group of experienced writers, marketers, and PR specialists to create this expert guide just for you. The following guide highlights elements to consider adding when creating engaging headlines.

Elements to add to your content headlines

1. Keywords

A vital element to consider when writing your headline is the keyword. Keywords are important for SEO. Once you’ve published your content, your keywords are what direct potential readers to it. You can spend hours – weeks even – developing an article or press release, but if your competitors are doing more effective keyword research, then this will all lead you nowhere.

With the right keywords, your content will gradually rank well on Google. Remember, the way you write your headline plays a massive role in how your SEO performs. That’s why you need to add high-volume, low-competition keywords to your headline. Ultimately, the right keywords will make your content more visible to prospective readers.

2. Angle of approach

You can use written content to share any story about your business and the team behind it – as long as the content itself is newsworthy. Once you’ve developed a newsworthy story, your headline should reflect this. If you’re not sure about how to make your headline sound more interesting, think of the clickbait you stumble upon every day. The writers behind these headlines can take the most ordinary title and turn it into one that leaves you curious about the story. All it takes is the right twist of words and all your readers would want to read the rest of the story.

Now, we’re not saying you should create clickbait. After all, misleading headlines will leave your audience feeling duped. Once you trick them once, they’re unlikely to ever click on one of your links again.

Remember that if you want to achieve business growth and retain a loyal client base, trustworthiness is vital. As such, you cannot twist the headlines to imply something false, simply to capture attention. However, with the right news angle, you can create newsworthy headlines. You can also hire a professional to assist with this if you find it overwhelming.

3. Valuable information

When drafting your headline, you should leverage the essential 4 “U’s”. These include unique, useful, ultra-specific, and urgent. Satisfying all these elements makes for a resourceful headline. As you are making the headline resourceful, remember that your readers have other important things to do. Therefore, they will be upset – justifiably so – if you waste their time.

For this reason, if you are using urgency in your headline, make sure you justify it. If someone clicks to read the rest of the content and finds no justification for the urgency, they’ll get irritated. Don’t be surprised when these initial feelings of betrayal and annoyance cloud their perception of your product.

For instance, let’s assume you were planning to buy a new bed in the next few months. Of course, you are not in a hurry, but then you hear that mattresses are going for 35% less at the local furniture store.

That discount alone will probably be enough to get your attention. To convert you into a buyer, they may announce the offer will end in less than 7 days. Thanks to this sense of urgency, you will find yourself checking the mattresses out in store or online. However, if you find that the discount is actually 15% and not 35% as advertised, you will most likely feel tricked and annoyed. Moreover, you’re unlikely to take any discounts from the same store seriously in the future.

Keep this in mind when you’re creating your headlines. You should only create a sense of urgency strategically.

4. A sense of inspiration

While writing your unique headline, make sure you create a sense of inspiration. After all, every day we’re surrounded by news about economic decline, job losses, and the lingering effects of COVID-19. A story that inspires people will definitely stand out from the rest of this noise, attract clicks and boost your business visibility

5. A unique twist

Readers interact with a huge amount of content daily. Think about it from your point of view. Between the emails, pop-up ads, YouTube ads, and Instagram reels that come off as entertainment but are actually ads, you’re surrounded by branded content wherever you go. The good news is that you can get your content to stand out if you create a unique headline that captures attention. The four “U’s” can help you here. However, it can be difficult to satisfy all these elements in your headline, since it’s supposed to be short and sweet. Instead of trying to make your headline unique, useful, ultra-specific, and urgent, you can aim for at least two of these requirements.

6. Specifics

A headline that goes straight to the point will help you to avoid confusing your audience. As you create your specific headline, make sure it makes sense to someone with no background information whatsoever on the company you’re talking about. Your headline should make sense to a reader who is interacting with your company for the first time, otherwise you will lose many potential readers.

With a specific headline, the reader will immediately understand what your story is about and take the necessary next steps. Even without reading the rest of your content, a reader should be able to decide whether they are interested in your brand based on your headline. On the other hand, with a vague headline, your audience will be confused. More importantly, they probably won’t bother reading the rest of your article or press release to decipher your message.

Remember, your readers are not detectives, and they definitely won’t waste time playing detective with your vague content. Getting straight to the point is one of the most effective ways to ensure that your readers stick around to find out what you have to say.

7. Eliminate fluff

Your headline is not a new novel whose release readers look forward to for months. Neither is the article you’re writing. For this reason, you need to keep your writing as concise as possible. Popular authors can afford to ramble because readers will be hanging onto every word. You cannot afford to do the same thing. When you are creating a headline, review it several times. If there’s a word that you can eliminate while making sure the headline still makes sense, do it. There’s no room for fluff here, even if it makes your headline sound good. Get straight to the point and tighten your writing up as much as possible. The same goes for the rest of your article.

According to expert studies, most audiences have a short attention span. In fact, rumor has it that our attention span might be worse than that of a goldfish. Therefore, if you want to engage your readers, you must be precise.

Final Thoughts: Creating engaging content headlines

The headline is usually an afterthought for most writers, who hurriedly throw a random string of words together at the last minute. This is a mistake, because your headline can actually make the difference between a reader who stops in their tracks and one who moves on to the next distraction. For this reason, no matter what kind of content you’re creating, you must spend the necessary time and effort on your content headlines.

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