How to use headlines to help create and optimize content


30-second summary:

  • The point of publication should not be solely focused on promoting a brand or converting readers, it needs to be a strong medium to tell a story, educate, and add value to the audience.
  • Fractl’s Growth Specialist, Delaney Kline shares a guide on how to optimize content through effective headlines.
  • She also covers how you can frame, promote, pitch, and sell your content.

As content marketers, we know that the purpose of our content should always be to educate, inform, and entice readers. The point of publication should not be to promote a brand or convert readers — our content should be a tool for journalists to tell a story. 

In order to avoid getting bogged down with data and numbers, there’s one content hack that will help your project resonate with your audience – a headline. Here’s how to use headlines to promote, pitch, sell, and optimize content. 

How to plan for promotional viability

By keeping an interesting headline in mind during the development stages of your project, you’re able to remain focused on the most important takeaways. 

Oftentimes, when creating content, we become attached to our findings, we believe each little tidbit is important to the narrative. This isn’t true. Certain information is more important and more interesting to the audience you’re trying to reach, and you need to plan for that. 

Although research is an essential piece of the process, some pieces of content can thrive on just a single takeaway or statistic. So, if you find one data point that is educational, newsworthy, shocking, and relevant- build on it. It can carry your entire piece of content.

Spend some time online and research the vertical you’re aiming to address in order to optimize content. Journalism has a heartbeat, and adjusting your content to meet news trends is the easiest way to gain traction.

During the creative process, use the headline as a beacon and focus your efforts on creating a story that supports that hook. 

How to frame your content for successful pitching

Not only will your imagined headline look fabulous on the front page of CNBC, but it will look great as a subject line to your email pitches. 

Once your content makes it through the creative process, you face the challenge of promotion. Of course, this challenge is made exponentially easier if the content was created with a headline in mind. 

Not only will your story fit in among other industry publications, but you’re able to compare your content with other articles online.

Optimize content using headlines analysis

Use tools like BuzzSumo to follow topic trends and compare the engagement metrics of some of the most successful articles in your vertical. You can filter through writers and publications with headlines that resemble your own to create a highly-targeted list of people to pitch.

Creating a media list is a strenuous task, but your project has strong ideas, and interesting takeaways, the pitch will write itself. 

Journalists can recognize a viral idea when they see one, and you’re sure to grab their attention from the get-go with a well-thought-out headline and cohesive narrative to support it. 

How to incorporate social proof of concept

This is a process we use in ideation meetings to provide evidence for the strength of a certain content idea. Pulling coverage similar to the concept you’re working with and determining what worked, what didn’t, and how it can be improved, is a solid way to predict success. 

Of course, you can never know 100% that a piece of content will meet your objectives, but by comparing metrics of other successful projects, your team will be able to craft new content within the verticals you’re looking to target.  

In order to make the most of your past successes, ask your team these questions: 

  1. What made this content so successful?
  2. What can we add to make it more timely?
  3. How can we improve the work that’s already been done?
  4. Are there other aspects of the same idea we can explore?
  5. Can we use other tools to enhance this information (social media, digital scrapes, free information sources, and government data)?

These are actionable questions to take into account before delving into a new project. And if your team feels that revisiting this idea would not improve the quality of the work that’s already been done, move on. You don’t want to repeat the same process just to create something subpar. 

How to plan for keyword optimization

Visualizing a headline with keywords for the concept you’re working with will not only help in search, but will also end up optimizing your copy for long-tail searches as well. 

As we learn more about the habits of younger generations, we’re seeing Gen-Z searchers input lengthy queries into Google. Younger generations seem to have a higher interest in searching for things that are the “best.” Maybe this is because millennials and Gen Zers have grown up in an age where endless options are available at the click of a button, so they’re looking to rank the very best the internet has to offer.

This is something to keep in mind when creating your content as well. Consider developing visualizations or lists if the data allows for it. Additionally, “how-to” lists are also an incredibly popular search among all generations. Perhaps your team can spend time developing on-site content with actionable “how-to” tips that are relevant to your industry. 

Bottom line is – if you’re looking to reach a certain audience, make sure you keep their Google habits in mind during the development of your project.  

Focus your efforts to optimize content

The whole idea is to remain focused. While we’re not trying to pigeon hole the creative process to meet a certain end, we are trying to keep a target in mind in order to optimize our efforts. 

Delaney Kline is a Growth Specialist at Fractl, a creative digital marketing agency specializing in the creation and promotion of branded content. She can be found on Twitter at @delaneykline.



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