How to Improve Your Headlines Using Other People’s Content

Engagement is the ever illusive golden grail of website success. Although social media engagement is one of the hardest to measure, there are ways to improve what you can measure. It all starts with headlines.

The Importance of Headlines

If you read Copyblogger, Problogger, or any other popular and helpful websites about blogging then you know the power of headlines. Some bloggers are known to spend just as long or longer figuring out a headline as they do on writing a post. Consider that it takes 10,000 hours (see Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell) for your mind or body to adapt to a particular focus. That is a lot of blog posts to practice crafting a decent headline. Here is a quick and easy way to shorten that process using your own or other people’s Tweets. First we need a basic tool in place to measure our progress.

Tools for Measuring Headline Success

Twitter posts offer one of the fastest ways to practice getting people to click through to a post. Here are a couple of easy tools to measure the click through rate of each tweet:

  • Bufferapp: This tool measures how many people click through and offers an easy way to automatically tweet at the best time. Unfortunately you can only accurately measure for your own tweets;
  • Hootsuite: A full social media dashboard that will also give you some basic stats;
  • Timely: Provides the best times to tweet based on your Twitter history.
Once the tools are in place then it is time to play with headlines.

Updating Twitter Headlines

Now go to your popular blogs and tweet some of the posts. If you need some ideas try using Google Alerts or, if you have an iPhone or an iPad use the Zite app to explore new blog posts. Instead of using the auto generated headline when you tweet, try improving the headline. Here are some quick tips from Copyblogger’s Twitter headlines to get you started:
  • Be specific regarding what people will get if they read the post;
  • Provide a sense of urgency;
  • Make the benefit seem unique;
  • Make what they get useful.
Here is an example of how you might change a headline. Consider the following:
How Pinterest Can Turn Your Brand Red-Hot [INFOGRAPHIC]
If we made the headline more specific we might get more people to read it. Here is a revision of the headline with more specifics:
Make These 7 Improvements Right Now to Increase Traffic from Pinterest. [INFOGRAPHIC]
Instead of just being “Red-Hot” there are now 7 specific improvements to be made “right now.”

Looking at the Twitter Click-Through Results and Trying Again

Once you are done changing your Twitter headline, wait awhile and see how many people clicked through. Want to improve that result? Consider that in his most recent book on Google+ Guy Kawasaki says, “My tweets are repeated four times, eight hours apart. I can prove that this increases click-throughs by a factor of four.” This means you can try repeating the same tweet but with a different headline. Keep in mind that this type of test is what Which Test Won calls sequential testing and not as accurate as tests run at the same time. Despite that and other true testing technicalities, you can still get some idea on which headlines probably worked better.

Keep Practicing Twitter Headlines

There is no easy fix for creating the best headlines, they do take work. Playing with Twitter headlines using some of the tips from Copyblogger or elsewhere provides the necessary practice without the time it takes to write blog posts.

 

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