Before we worry about the perfect call to action, let’s take a step back and see where we left off.
- In Part 1, I laid out my process for writing a blog
- Part 2 explained how to determine who your target audience is and why that’s so important.
- In Part 3 we dipped a toe into the SEO ocean.
- Part 4 covered research and gathering expert information.
Betcha thought it was finally time to start writing.
You’re never going to attract readers if you don’t give them an enticing headline. And you’re not going to grow your business without a clear (and non-spammy) call to action.
Do I Really Need a Great Headline and a Persuasive Call To Action?
It depends. What are your blogging goals?
If you’re writing for yourself, then no. People write blogs all the time and don’t worry about this stuff. Say you’re capturing vacation details for friends and family. They’ll read your blog anyway; no need to worry about headlines or calls to action.
But if your goal is to attract readers who become customers, then yes, you need a headline and a call to action that get the results you want.
How To Write an Eye-Catching Headline
Here’s where the experts will drive you crazy. I’m going to give you the best advice I can, at the time this blog is published. However,
- SEO evolves and trends change. What makes a good headline today may not work next month.
- You’re a human being writing for other humans. Don’t let your desire for strong SEO results get in the way of good writing.
Incorporate your target keyword or keyword phrase.
The closer to the beginning of your headline you can place it, the better for both human readers and SEO.
Promise to address a problem, explain a benefit, or offer a feature.
Remember all that research you did in the planning step? Now’s the time to use that information. Build it into your headline with phrases like “How to…” “Three Challenges Facing…”, “Worried About….”, “Why You Need….”.
Write to be read on any device.
Some experts will tell you blog headlines should be about six words long for legibility on mobile devices. Others insist they need to be at least 10 for SEO. How to decide: where will your ideal reader be viewing your content?
Create a list of 10-20 candidate headlines to start. Play with the sequence of words, rearrange them to see if that adds punch. Look for a combination of powerful, emotional, and uncommon words.
Engage Readers With a Call to Action
A call to action (CTA) is what you want your reader to do once they’ve finished your blog:
- Download a freebie like a white paper, a checklist, or a template they can use
- Sign up for your newsletter, a webinar, or an event where you’ll be showcased
- Follow you on social media
This is an ideal opportunity to encourage readers to build a relationship with you.
I Hate Calls to Action!
I get that; some people worry about sounding too “sales-y.” But hang on a sec. Remember you’re promising to solve a problem for a customer. Why lead them this far, then drop them like a hot bowl of ramen right out of the microwave?
If you want to build a relationship with your reader, this is where you nudge them to the next step in solving their problem. You don’t have to be all “call me now!!!!” Use a gentle approach to let the reader know it’s up to them: they can choose to follow your CTA to not. If they like what you’re saying, they will continue the conversation with you; the decision is in their hands. It’s as simple as that.
Call to Action Done? You’re Almost Ready to Write
Take a deep breath and pat yourself on the back. The hardest part is done.
Now that you have an opening, a closing, and your keywords, outline the major points you want to make. As you’re writing, identify where you want to add:
- Links to other websites
- At least one link to another page in your website
- Links to other interesting sources of information like research, videos, or data sources.
- Images and video
In the next post, we’ll talk about actually writing, editing, and publishing your baby, the best blog post in the world.
Use CoSchedule’s free headline analyzer to help you select the best headline. (You want a score of 70 or higher.) While I generally like CoSchedule, it can lead you to sound like clickbait. Remember, this is just a tool. It’s not perfect and a good score won’t guarantee success.
Another great analyzer is the American Marketing Institute’s Emotional Marketing Value analyzer. In this case, you’ll want to hit 30-40% emotional value if you can.
Tips for Success
Take your time writing headlines. Search algorithms aside, you’re writing for busy people. You have just a few seconds to grab their attention. It’s worth sleeping on an idea and worrying about getting the wording just right.
Don’t be afraid to be bold, but know there’s a fine line between bold and off-putting. Follow your gut on this one: balance your comfort level against what will get attention.
At the risk of repeating myself one more time, don’t miss this opportunity to include a call to action. Seriously. You went to all this work, why blow the payoff? (You’d be surprised how many people get this far and forget this last step.)
How Can I Help?
Tired of worrying over a headline? Stuck on your call to action? Schedule some time on my calendar for a 30-minute conversation. Let me help you with this tough task.