Why are blog headings so important to a copywriter? 

Why are blog headings so important? Well, since you asked, I’ll tell you.

headings
A good heading gets the reader to read the copy.

As a copywriter, I admit there have been times when the heading was pretty much an afterthought. This isn’t good, but no one is perfect, right?

The truth is that headings are VERY important. In fact, many copywriters believe 80% of your time should be spent on them. Now, I can’t say I spend quite that much time on headings, but I certainly spend a lot.

The online copywriter

Once upon a time copywriters wrote for print — brochures, direct-response sales letters and catalogues etc. These days, though, much of their time is spent writing online. As a result, the function of a heading has taken on another dimension.

The purpose of a heading

The great direct-response copywriter Joe Sugarman said this about headings:

The purpose of a heading is to get the reader to read the first sentence

I agree. However, when writing for the web, your heading can also help people find your blog in the first place.

So, when writing a blog, your main heading has two functions:

  1. attract people to your blog 
  2. as Joe Sugarman said, get people to read the first sentence.

 

Attract people to your blog

You may be wondering how a heading could possibly attract people to your blog. Well, it won’t do it alone, but it does have an influence. To help people find your blog when searching online, you should include a key word in your main heading as well as your title tag (what people see when your blog comes up in a Google listing) and throughout the copy.

Key words

A key word is a word or phrase that your customers use when searching for your products or services in search engines, like Google.

As in this blog, I often use the word copywriter. This is known as a short-tail key word because it contains less than four words. You will find that short-tail phrases generally attract more traffic, but are less valuable because they are not very specific. So, using a long-tail phrase, like Why blog headings are so important to a copywriter, is often more effective.

Get people to read the first sentence

This is probably the hardest part. How do you cut through all the “noise” and get people to take notice?

Well, I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but I’ll tell you anyway: You need to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. What are their problems? What are their desires?

Basically, your heading should encapsulate what you can do for your customer.

As a rule, I like to exploit a problem — we are more interested in curing a tooth ache than having shiny white teeth. So, if I was a business coach, I might use a heading like, Would you like to keep your creditors at bay? I will show you how.

What about other headings in your blog?

Headings are important throughout your blog as well. Here’s why:

  • they can include key words
  • they explain what the next paragraph is about
  • they break up the text to make it easy to read.

 

When writing online, your copy must be scanable. This is because people usually won’t read all of your copy; they’ll just scan for the parts they are interested in. So, the headings throughout your copy are important. They are like road signs pointing the reader in the direction they want to go.

Breaking up your copy into chunks with headings also makes it look less intimidating. Most people are busy and won’t invest their time in a blog that looks like a tough read.

Of course, you can also include key words, though, in my mind, this is a lesser priority to breaking up the text and directing the reader.

What do you think? If you found this useful please share. I welcome your comments.

  1. A well argued article, Andrew, thanks. Since most people don’t read past the headline, they have become more important than ever. Many people don’t realise, until they try, how hard it is to craft a headline, whether in print or online. I still work a lot in print and love the fact that you can play around with words and come up with puns that make the readership laugh (well, hopefully). It’s certainly not a style that works well online, so copywriters have to be adept at changing styles to suit audiences – but then copywriters have always had to be good at that, haven’t we?

    1. Hi Alison, thanks for your feedback. I would have to say that coming up with great headlines isn’t my strongest skill – I’m a work in progress. You’re right about copywriters needing to adapt. How many of us wrote online 10 years ago? What on earth will we be doing in another 10?

  2. Andrew, I could not agree more. I love seeing posts that have subheadings to I can read quicker and more easily and yet still understand it. I’ve been taking more time to come up with headings as they do make a difference on the Twitter stream and elsewhere. Excellent point about using long tail keywords in headings as the short ones are harder to rank for and could take years.

    1. Thanks for your feedback, Lisa. Sub headings are really important. I read somewhere that it doesn’t matter what you say in them – it could be completely unrelated – as long as you use them to break up the copy.

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