When it comes to maximizing the ROI of your medical practice's content marketing campaign, your headlines may matter more than anything else.
Advertising legend (aka, the original Mad Man) David Ogilvy once said, “On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.” In other words, 80% of your marketing effort should be focused on headline creation.
If your skepticism alarm just started going off, consider the following: according to Moz, about eight out of 10 people will read the headline copy of an article, but only about 20% will actually go on to read the article itself. Moreover, an article’s pageviews can vary by as much as 500% based on the headline alone. In fact, headline construction has become so important that viral content organizations like Buzzfeed and Upworthy have built an entire industry out of it.
But for most medical practices, a viral marketing strategy probably isn’t going to be the best approach. First of all, it’s difficult to do — even Upworthy has a mere 0.3% success rate when it comes to getting posts to go viral. And while generating heaps of traffic and shares is all well and good, unless those visitors are converting into new patients, that time and energy you’re investing into your headlines is effectively going to waste. Here are few tips and tricks to help you make highly clickable headlines for your practice’s blog that also drive conversions.
In terms of search engine optimization (SEO), keywords are...well...key. When Google and Bing’s bots crawl your blog to index your content, the keywords you incorporate into your headline will play a central role in determining that post’s search ranking.
That said, try not to sacrifice readability — remember that for healthcare organizations, the primary purpose of a headline is to get your target audience to actually read your article. While some keyword stuffing is necessary from an SEO standpoint, it’s more important that you appeal to actual patients who are looking for useful information from a credible and authoritative source.
It’s best to include a few relevant keywords that inform your prospective audience as to what your post is about, then focus on optimizing other areas of the post — e.g., title tags, meta descriptions, subheadings, and the actual blog content itself — to maximize its visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs).
Some of the most common issues that arise with headlines have to do with length; too long and you risk losing a reader’s attention, but too short and they won’t have the amount of information they need to determine whether or not they want to read the piece.
According to HubSpot, determining the optimal length of your headline really depends on your goals; if you’re trying to optimize your post for search, you should try to keep your headline under 70 characters so it doesn’t get chopped off in the results pages. If you’re trying to grow your practice’s following on social media, headlines between 8 to 12 words typically get the highest shares on Twitter, and on Facebook, headlines with 12 to 14 words get the most likes.
Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment
At the end of the day, the definition of “the perfect headline” largely depends on your specific practice and its unique goals. In order to find the most effective formula, I recommend experimenting with a number of different approaches and measuring the results.
Try out headlines of different lengths, question vs. statement formats, listicles, etc. — some experts recommend crafting as many as 25 different headlines per article in order to gain a better understanding of your target audience’s preferences and maximize results.
There are also a number of great (and free) headline analyzers out there that are definitely worth trying out — my personal favorites include ShareThrough, CoSchedule, and Advanced Marketing Institute.