The attention span of the average user has declined rather drastically over the last decade and a half. In order to engage with your blog readers in any meaningful way, you have to grab their attention right away. Learning to use titles, headlines, and headers in a strategic fashion will go a long way toward helping you in this regard.
Hooking Your Readers and Reeling Them In
In 2015, the average attention span for humans had dropped from 12 seconds to eight seconds. Since then, a lot of focus has been given to the idea of human attention as it relates to marketing, sales, and internet browsing tendencies. And whether it’s eight seconds, 12 seconds, or 15 seconds, the reality is that today’s online users and customers can’t stay focused for very long before getting distracted and moving on to another task. It’s just the way the brain works.
From a blogging perspective, this is highly problematic. The average person needs four or five minutes of sustained focus in order to read a 1,000-word post. A few seconds of focus hardly allows readers to move past the first paragraph.
The good news is that you can get readers to pay attention for longer periods of time – but you only have a few seconds to win them over. This puts added weight on your headlines, titles, and headers.
4 Tips for Attention-Grabbing Headlines, Titles, and Headers
There’s no secret recipe or proprietary formula for grabbing the attention of your blog visitors, but here are a few suggestions you may find helpful:
Show Your Readers Why They Should Care
The first step is to give your visitors a reason to care. In other words, it should be evident from the very start as to why your content is worth consuming. The more blatant you are in answering this internal question, the better the results will be.
This page from JunkACar.com is a great example. Notice how the header includes a clear value statement/call-to-action: “Hey New Jersey…One call right now gets top-dollar for your car today.” The statement is specific (targeting New Jersey readers), simple (one call), and timely (today). Assuming the right visitors are being funneled to the page, this header will be highly effective in pushing people further down the page and quickly appealing to their emotions and decision-making capacities.
Always put yourself in your readers’ shoes and ask the question, why should they care? If there isn’t an obvious value statement or call-to-action in the headline, title, or header, you aren’t doing an adequate job of answering this question in a straightforward manner.
Write Captivating Headlines
“The headline accounts for up to 50% of your blog post’s effectiveness. If you fail to make it powerful and clickable, every other marketing step that you take will be a total waste of time,” successful blogger and internet marketer Neil Patel explains.
There are numerous tips, tricks, and hacks you can use to develop captivating headlines, but it ultimately comes down to appealing to your target audience. What is it that motivates your readers to click and read?
Patel likes to use concrete numbers and data points in the headline, if at all possible. This level of specificity really draws people in and encourages them to take the content seriously.
Keep it Short and Simple
The size of your headlines and titles – in terms of word length and number of characters – is critically important. While every situation will be different, Outbrain reports that headlines with eight words have a 21 percent higher click-through rate than the average title. Having said that, somewhere between 7 and 12 words is considered ideal.
Keep People Guessing
If you give everything away in the header of a blog post, there really isn’t much left for the reader to discover. You want to be descriptive in your titles, yet keep people guessing.
Here’s a recent example from TIME. The title reads: Is Hummus Actually Healthy? Here’s What the Experts Say. The headline itself makes a slight revelation, but you have to read on in order to get the real answer. This is a great example of a well-crafted headline that keeps readers engaged.
Nail the First Impression
Grabbing a reader’s attention in an over-stimulated world where focus is hard to come by is a huge challenge, to say the least. From a blogging perspective, it all starts with the first impression. You have nanoseconds to show visitors why your content is worth consuming. Getting your headlines, titles, and headers right will go a long way towards helping you engage your readers in a meaningful way.
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