Picture of a woman writing notes while working on headlining.

When it comes to your website, few elements are as important as your homepage headline. Test after test has shown that simply improving your headline homepage can greatly decrease bounce rate and increase conversion rate by up to 40%. But why are headlines so critical to the success of your website? As the average attention span of web users is decreasing, capturing your audience’s attention from the very beginning has become increasingly crucial.

Additionally, there’s a well-documented content glut on the internet. Web users have to filter through more websites, more blogs, and more social media feeds than ever before to find quality content. Your headline needs to stand out from the rest and position you not only as different, but better than your competitors.

Writing a great headline isn’t an exact science, but there are some best practices that will help it stand out. Here are five surefire tips to improve your next headline.

Screenshot from AirBnb demonstrating effective headlining.

(Source: Airbnb.com)

1. Keep It Succinct

Say only what you need to say. Most studies out there point to strong homepage headlines falling between 5 and 12 words. Too few words and you risk a vague, bland headline that doesn’t convey your brand effectively. Too many words and your site visitors can be distracted or miss the point.

In some cases, adding a short subtitle under your headline can be effective. But, if you choose to go this route, you should pay even closer attention to brevity. (If you’ve written a paragraph, you’ve gone too far.) As a general rule of thumb, subtitles should be kept under 110 characters and don’t need to be complete sentences, so always be looking to eliminate filler words.

Screenshot from the Babbel website showing great headlining on a Call To Action.

(Source: Babbel.com)

2. Use Descriptive, Specific Adjectives

The words you choose to describe your service or product should give insight into the value you offer. General adjectives like “awesome,” “great,” and “inexpensive” may be true, but don’t allow your organization to stand out from the rest. And let’s face it, you’re better than “great!”

To combat getting stuck with a bland headline, consider writing down all of the things that differentiate your company and set yourself apart. Write out what features are unique to your organization and what issues or problems you help customers solve better than your competition. However, it does you no good to oversell either. Make sure your actual content can back up what’s promised in your headline.

Screenshot of page from Slack showing descriptive headlining.

(Source: Slack.com)

3. Try As Many Variations As Possible

Crafting the perfect headline is a process. Odds are, you’re not going to come up with a finished headline on your first attempt so make that your mindset from the beginning. Welcome the fact that it will take numerous attempts and begin writing as many variations of your title as you can possibly think of.

This suggestion really works best when you don’t hold back. It might result in some pretty big misses, but so what? Now is your opportunity to try different things and avoid settling for a boring and generic headline. After all, a dull headline is about as bad as you can do. Try exciting, vivid descriptions to get your message across, even if you know you won’t be using that particular version in the end. Each attempt that doesn’t work gets you one step closer to a headline that will wow your viewers!

Graphic of Headline example from Postmates

(Source: Postmates.com)

4. Utilize Keywords

In your search for the perfect headline, remember to keep your eye on the prize: site traffic. After all, if you write a great headline and no one sees it, did you even write a great headline? (This is clearly our weak attempt at the tree-in-the-forest metaphor, but you get the gist.)

Point is, great headlines are designed to drive traffic and links to your content. With that in mind, it’s extremely beneficial to use effective keywords in your headline that will catch the attention of your audience. As with all keywords, be sure to work them in naturally. Conduct your research before the crafting process so you know what your options are from the beginning. Also, don’t forget that a little A/B testing can go a long way when determining the impact of your keywords. It’s that easy!

Screenshot from the Uber site demonstrating effective headlining.

(Source: Uber.com)

5. You Don’t Have to Finish Your Headline First

Here’s the thing: because headline writing is a bit of an art, your best work will require getting into a groove. For some, writing the headline first works best, and for others, it’s the last piece of the puzzle. We usually end up somewhere in between!

Try writing a “first-draft headline” for guidance and/or inspiration. Remember: it’s a draft, so no one else will see this. Try something like “Amaze Visitors with Digital Expertise and 5 Steps to Brilliant Headlines.” Once the main copy found in the body is up to par (now that your creativity is flowing), use our other tips to write your brilliant, keyword rich, final headline!

There you have it. Taking these five tips into consideration can be crucial when coming up with your next headline. Don’t be afraid to show off your creativity and make your website truly stand out!