Okay, I've fibbed in the headline, but only a bit. There's not just one key. There are several, and they won't magically unlock a secret vault of headlines that somehow will rocket your content to the top of Search Engine Results Page (SERP) #1.
Three of these headline analyzers helped me with the title of this post. Check them out below. Did it work?
You decide. If you've read this far and are an old hand at headline writing, feel free to skip the next two sections and scroll right down to the goodies below.
On a deadline, mind your headline
On a deadline, it's easy to forget that the whole effort's success ultimately rides on the headline.
Will it stand out? Does it "speak" to our audience? And does it address the question on the mind of busy professionals when they quick-scroll through their feed readers or email inboxes and come across your post: "What's in it for me?"
If our headline or subject line cannot answer that last question upfront, they won't feel compelled to click. Only a few hardened souls (thanks, mom!) will read our post or landing page or whitepaper or email.
And forget about them making it anywhere near the call-to-action button. The blog post may be a masterpiece of IT security content marketing, but nobody will ever know without a headline that works. Game over, before it has even begun.
How to improve your headline in under 2 minutes
Science-based headline analyzer apps measure a title's or subject line's potential to grab human readers' attention online. Before we conscript them to serve as our free data-driven copy editors, let's take care of a few basics first.
Does our headline meet essential SEO requirements, such as including a relevant keyword? After all, bots have to pick up on a headline so that people can find and click on it.
B2B headlines that set specific expectations drive more traffic. Options range from including a number to directly addressing the target audience ("...for IT Admins") to promising valuable insights on the fly ("…In Under 3 Minutes").
Can the content deliver on what your headline is promising? Keep in mind that most IT security professionals have no tolerance for clickbait. There's a reason why even Buzzfeed stays away from Buzzfeed-style headlines for cybersecurity topics.
Screenshot: Blog post title score on the EMV Headline Analyzer
Three free tools to adjust your headline in a hurry
Do you have a solid headline draft? Then it's time to run it through one or more headline analyzer apps and use their feedback to calibrate your message.
I selected three of these online tools for copywriters to tweak the title for this blog post. Each of them has its own advantages:
- CoSchedule's Free Headline Analyzer covers the basics. It's designed for quick assessments of a headline's sentiment, word balance, and length.
👍 for the headline "Skimmability" gauge. It marks the words most readers will focus on.
- The Headline Analyzer at CapitalizeMyTitle.com evaluates the headline or email subject based on more than 50 different data points and rates it on a scale of 1-100. It emphasizes readability and SEO impact.
👍 for the built-in weasel word detector.
- The Advanced Marketing Institute's no-frills Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer, the pioneer in this category of copywriting tools, doesn't concern itself with SEO. It estimates the emotional and intellectual impact of word choices.
👍 for how easy the EMV Headline Analyzer makes it to home in on a headline that predominantly appeals to most people's intellectual sphere.
Such headlines are "especially effective when offering products and services that require reasoning or careful evaluation," according to the site, so it's a logical choice for cybersecurity industry blogs, ads, and email subject lines.
To fine-tune my headline for this post, I first ran my drafts through all three tools. Then I let the EMV Headline Analyzer tip the scale when I chose the final title, because I write for people, not (Google) bots.
I've found in the past that an EMV score above 50 means that a headline will fulfill its purpose. Did it work?
You be the judge.
Expect further hands-on tips in my upcoming posts and mailings. Are you looking for subject matter experts who plan, create, and promote targeted IT security content fast? Let us know.
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* I picked this example because it's one many cybersecurity bloggers, IT industry copywriters, and content owners/managers are familiar with in 2020.