We are in the age of “quick-glance journalism.” People will only view a website for a few seconds, 2 seconds for an email subject line, and a micro-second for a post. And just like the magazines at the grocery store check out, your headlines need to instantly entice and push impulse buying or clicking.
This is a screen grab from a Business Insider page at the end of an article. These are all promoted stories or ads, but they are good examples of how headlines are changing in advertising and in other content. You may read them and not like the tone, but they are part of a new age of results-driven content. Writing headlines is not for the weak of heart. In today’s instant-results feedback, you know if your headlines are effective or not.
One of the senior editors at Business Insider says that the headline is written to get clicks or shares. If the headline isn’t working, they change it. At the same time, they work hard to make sure the headlines get clicks but are not “annoying.” It is a fine line to walk.
We know numbers work well (7 habits of the ultra-wealthy) and the negative headline (You doctor does not want you to read this article), but the proof is not in the eye of the editor or beholder, it is the metrics. If your website headline is not getting click-throughs, change it. If no one is visiting a page on your site, change the conversation. I’m assuming the content is highly relevant—if so, change the headline and watch your success, and conversions, soar into the millions. It is also good to make sure the headline actually relates to the article it is promoting.