Headlines: From boring to ‘tell me more’

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Most of your website visitors are not going to read (all) your copy. Often, they only hit the headlines.

This sounds strange coming from a copywriter — but it’s actually a core principle of what we do.

The best websites can be scanned and understood within a quick scroll. That means seconds, not minutes. Your target audience isn’t going to care about you, nor dedicate much time to you, until you make them care — but that takes effort and time. So what can you do with those precious few seconds of attention at the start?

You must take your headlines from eyes-glazed-over to ‘yes, tell me more’!! Here’s how to write better website headlines.

Wait, what’s a headline?

Website headlines are those big, bolded hero sentences that are pulled out from the body (smaller text) copy to signify they are important and worth reading. They are the most-skimmed bits, because they stand out from the rest. There are no rules to placing headlines on your website — they’re a fun piece website designers like to play with. Headlines can be anywhere, everywhere, sideways, scrolling or stagnant. The only trick to remember is that each one must be purposeful… otherwise why bother at all?

So, like where it says ‘About Me’ or ‘My Services’?

Sure, but that’s a waste of space. If your ‘About Me’ headline is no more than its namesake, you’re wasting an opportunity to tell part of your story at a glance. 

If you’re looking to improve your headlines, these basic, predictable titles are the perfect place to start. Why say ‘My Services’ when you could say ‘The words side of bold brand strategy’? Both titles get the same point across — it’s the part where readers learn what you do — but one of them primes the audience to understand the benefits they receive, while the other simply introduces another boring section.

Headlines should be benefits or solutions. Not features. 

Before you run off to update your (ineffective) headlines like ‘Shop The Collection’ or ‘Product Features’, first you should understand the best choice to replace it.

The best headlines list a benefit or solution to the customer’s problem. This is much more effective than just listing a feature.

It’s the difference between ‘made with solid gold’ (a feature) and ‘made with waterproof, wear-everywhere solid gold that lasts a lifetime’ (benefits). It’s ‘no lock-in retainers’ (feature) compared to ‘the freedom and flexibility of no lock-ins’ (benefits). 

Pull out the feature you want to highlight, then twist it to make it matter to them.

Remember: no rules.

Writing boring, basic headlines happens when we believe we have to do it. When you feel pushed into some outdated box of so-called professionalism, creativity suffers, and the real people on the other end want nothing to do with it. 

When you rewrite your headlines, consider this: there are absolutely no rules. You don’t have to state ‘Testimonials’ when you could write ‘See why they’re so obsessed with me’. You don’t have to write ‘Blog’ when you could title it ‘Things I want to say but generally don’t (anywhere but here)’. It’s easy to see which ones make you want to read on — and the same goes for your audience. 

But what about SEO?

I knew someone would ask. Creative copywriting is a delicate balancing act against its evil twin (okay, maybe dramatic), search engine optimisation, better known as SEO. 

While it’s true that SEO best practices should play a role in your headlines — you may feel compelled to squeeze in an important keyword, or a few — don’t get so swept up in the world of SEO that you forget to write for humans first. Effective SEO can bring the right people to your website, yes, but do you really want to bore them to tears when they get there? 

You have to play both sides, and listen to both the devil and angel on your shoulder (which is which, that’s up to you to decide). SEO can attract people, but creative, engaging copywriting keeps them there. You don’t want to send them away with a keyword-ick and an eye roll (I’m looking at you ‘Best copywriter Melbourne’). 

(Yes, I just added SEO’d my insult towards SEO. Get creative like this.)

So, if you write a killer headline that captures who you are, what you do so well, and the immense value you can bring to the reader… consider this your permission slip to flip the bird to SEO and let it be. Because you know your fans will love you for it.

We’re obsessed with the words that define your brand.

So if you want our headline-writing minds across your website, the first step is our rate card (which includes a link to book a call). Click here to get your hands on it.

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