Effective website headlines #2

Author -  Labyrinth Solutions

In Part #1, we examined why headlines are so important in web copy, and the need to construct them for both your target audience, and Google. Today, we'll look in detail at the headlines themselves, and gives some ideas on what type of headline fits where.

Types of Headline  

Broadly speaking there are 7 main headline types. Bearing in mind the need to write headlines for Google too, each example below is focused on a single search term, in this case the word “website”: 

  • Direct – e.g. “A Unique Approach to Website Design”. This should be a bold and direct statement.
  • Commanding. The first word here should be a strong verb like “Join, Subscribe, Come along” etc. Example – “Become Proficient at Website Marketing Now!”
  • How to…! This can be very engaging. Again, providing it is something the intended audience want to know about. For example - “Labyrinth Show How to Improve Website Performance through Better Headlines!”
  • The Question - to intrigue the reader. For example “What can Gordon Ramsay Teach us about Website Marketing?”  This works very well as at first glance there is no connection between Gordon Ramsay and website marketing!
  • Announcement. The trick here is that it has to be newsworthy, to your intended audience at least! Keeping to the theme - “New Easy to Use Website Content Management System just launched!”
  • The Explanation. For example – “The Reason a Labyrinth designed Website Will Work for You is…” The rest of the content provides the detailed reason why.
  • Testimonial. For example “We chose Labyrinth Solutions to build our Website and its been hugely instrumental in our business growth!”

When composing a headline, try and imagine the reaction of your primary target audience. If you can picture them thinking – “So what?” then your headline is bound to fail. If you can imagine them nodding in agreement, or even scratching their head wondering, then you are probably on the right track.

Different Headlines for Different Personality Types  

No matter how tightly defined a target audience, within it there will still be a mix of personality types. In regards to website usage, these can broadly be categorised into 4 main types: 

  • Status – someone self interested and keen to be seen as important/wealthy by others. This type of person wants information quickly and is not driven by price.
  • Trend setter. He/she is driven by all things new. Again they are not price sensitive and are keen on succinct information. Both types tend not to delve too deep into all areas of your site, their primary area of interest being the product itself and what it will say about them.
  • Social. He/she is not easily takes a more holistic approach, and are more likely to read all the information on the site, including about you as a company, your values etc.
  • Price. This type of person will want to examine features and benefits, but also the plusses and minuses of the product against competition, the long term value for money, details about the company, level of support, handling warranties or product returns etc. 

Each has a need for different areas of information. The status and trend setter are unlikely to delve into the lower areas of the site, concentrating mainly on the pages relating directly to your products. So on these pages, use headlines such as the ‘direct’ and ‘announcement’ to appeal to them. These will also work for the other personality types too. It’s not that they don’t want this information, it’s just that they also want a lot more on top!  

On supporting pages, ‘explanation, testimonial’ and ‘question’ headlines might be the best fit. Typically these pages are not visited by the first two personality types, but are by the second two. For example, instead of a mundane (but often used) headline such as “About us” why not try instead, “Why We are the Team to Help You”

No matter how great the headlines, if the content they lead into is poor, the website will struggle. However, even brilliant content will not shine without well crafted headlines as unfortunately, with nothing to entice the reader in, it will largely go unread. For a successful website, it’s important that you have all content working as hard as it can.

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